Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

This Book Makes Me Sad

Written by: on June 17, 2015

This Book Makes Me Sad

Kam Louie, Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image

Like most of you, when I read an anthology, I find the interest level waxing and waning as I move from essay to essay based on the author’s style, area of focus or any number of other factors. Some evoke emotions like joy, sadness, anger or fear, while others bring a chuckle or some other momentary outburst.  Others still are hard to stick with, I lose interest pretty easily (AOADD, Adult Onset Attention Deficit Disorder).  I found this waxing and waning of interest to be true of Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image for the most part but last night, as I was wrapping up Essay 9 (the one about the movies) I realized that one emotion tended to persist through all of my readings in this book.

In varying degrees for sure, sometimes a lot other times just a hint, kind of like a low-grade fever, there was an ever-present sense of sadness that I felt.  I found myself viewing “Hong Kong” through a set of anthropomorphic lenses, as if it is a single person with individual human needs, fears, anxieties and hang-ups and all the while, I felt sorry for “him.” (I don’t know why in my mind Hong Kong is a guy instead of a girl… that’s just how I viewed him.)  I felt that he had no core identity of his own for which he could stand up, fight and even die.  I saw him scrambling for legitimacy, trying desperately to be significant yet, somehow, always mimicking  other “real” societies, dismissed as a poser by the power-holders who pilfer his intellectual property and resell it as their own.  He follows off with toothless protests on blogs and in interviews but not really effecting any change is stature.

I’m not sure why these essays have affected me this way.  I wonder if there is something in my present circumstances that is framing my view of these authors’ words.  I’m looking forward to walking the streets of Hong Kong to discover whether or not these emotions are affirmed or dispelled, I hope they’re dispelled.  It seems to me that Hong Kong is poised for greatness!  No longer a colony, not yet oppressed, the possibilities are immense.  I am hoping for the best.

About the Author

Jon Spellman

Jon is a husband, father, coach, author, missional-thinker, and most of all, a follower of Jesus.

7 responses to “This Book Makes Me Sad”

  1. Dave Young says:


    Identifying with a city deeply is really beautiful and the whole identity crisis thing is also what I picked up on. My post is only lightly related to the book, more related to a visit a few years ago. Hong Kong is clearly anxious, and striving for greatness. Like the driven businessman – striving for success – all the long being far more successful then anyone else in the neighborhood. It is from that sense sad. It’s also going to be a great place to visit… I’m excited to see everyone soon in HK!

  2. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    John, This is so funny, “I found myself viewing “Hong Kong” through a set of anthropomorphic lenses, as if it is a single person with individual human needs, fears, anxieties and hang-ups and all the while, I felt sorry for ‘him.'” I had used “it” in referring to Hong Kong initially in my post, but by the end found myself typing “her.” I corrected it but that it was interesting that I similar emotion had developed within be and that is why I think I went the middle/youngest child route. Pretty interesting that a nation can develop that kind of identity! I can’t wait to go see her:)!

  3. Nick Martineau says:

    Jon…I loved how you you personalized HK. I think it’s really appropriate too. Cities, nations, etc. have personalities and it feels to me that HK is insecure when they really don’t need to be. Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. Mary Pandiani says:

    So if you were to ask “him,” do you think he would be sad? For some reason, I’m thinking that while we may pity the lack of identity, I’m not so sure Hong Kong would. I could see the gangly poser of a guy wanting to defend himself, even in his lack of knowing what he’s fighting for or against. Don’t know…but it struck me that your sadness may have more to do with you than Hong Kong. Is that too strong? I trust you to push back….especially since you put yourself on the line with your post. Thanks Jon.

    • Jon Spellman says:

      No not too strong at all! It’s totally possible that I am overlaying some of my own identity crisis onto the reading. While Hong Kong may not be sad himself, that’s not what I’m saying, his predicament makes me sad. The perpetual feeling of needing to measure up, to validate his existence as a unique individual among others is exhausting! While the momentary exhilaration that comes from an occasional recognition or “win” may feel nice, the exhaustion wins the day most times.

      I know, that’s a lot of anthropomorphizing but that’s the effect this collection of essays had on me…

  5. Mary Pandiani says:

    With your further explanation, Jon, I can see how the excitement of what was hoped for in Hong Kong brings an element of sadness with the loss of what could have been. A number of folks in our area, impacted by China/Hong Kong in one form or another, often speak with sadness of what could have been. I find it fascinating how we connect to the essence of a city anthropologically. Perhaps, I also overlaid my own personality as well – always hoping for the best.

Leave a Reply