On one side we have social grace, pomp and ceremony, hardened
belief systems and a wealth of power. And on the other side we
have excitement, no boundaries, spontaneous interruptions and
I’m sitting with the strictly attired whos who of Hong Kong at a
charity auction of artwork created by adults with special needs. I’m
assuming that the special needs people lined up in seats to my right
are the offspring of the well-to-do seated on my left. And we have
the Christies’ man, no less, upfront ushering bids from the audience
as a very ‘about to burst’ young lady wriggles in her seat watching
with whimsical wonder, the bobbing up and down of brown cards
with numbers on them.
“Three thousand, eight hundred dollars going once… going twice,
sold to the man in the grey jacket.” And with that the young lady
suddenly jumps to her feet clapping furiously with childlike
excitement as a few frowned foreheads lower their glance to the
right with pitying eyes.
I don’t know which is more to pity. I felt like I was sitting on the
fence as I could clearly resonate with both sides. A part of me had
always aspired to becoming wealthy as was the flavour of my
upbringing from a working class father vying for middle class
status. To be ‘anyone’, I had to get a university degree, I had to
marry into wealth and establishment, and act like a Sloane ranger,
despite the fact that Chelsea was 13,000 miles away.
And yet, witnessing the sheer freedom of not caring what others
think was the admirable hallmark of these people with supposed
So what does it take to develop a psyche? Fear, social stigma, self
consciousness, judgment, conditionality, conflicting beliefs and
values? The people with special needs may not be able to live an
independent lifestyle but neither can their parents carrying the
weight of the world on their shoulders. I think we have much to
learn from the social and intellectual freedom of these people.