Wishing a better future for America in Lam Tsuen

Wishes in Lam Tsuen

Rolled-up wishes in Lam Tsuen.

It is a dark hour in America. Like everyone, I read the news about the Newtown killings with a heavy heart and wet eyes.

This morning I headed for the “Wishing Tree” in Lam Tsuen for a bit of fresh air and peace. I had my youngest child for company. My older child — who is roughly the same age as most of Friday’s victims — was at school.

Hongkongers visit the tree with their hopes for good fortune and good health. Someone with an ill grandmother might visit the tree to seek her recovery by having a wish for her wellness written on sheets of paper. They’d then tie the rolled-up papers to an orange and toss it up into the branches of the tree. If the wish catches on one of the tree’s branches, it is said to be sure to come true.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

Approaching the tree this morning, it was not filled with oranges and red slips of paper. Instead its limbs were propped up with crutches. The tree itself has been burdened with too many wishes and is now in a “recovery period.” Wishers now either throw their hopes into a nearby artificial tree or tie them to purpose-built wooden racks.

We arrived earlier than the wish-scribes so I simply viewed the tree, thought about the 20 first graders and 6 adults who were killed on Friday, and watched my son innocently and happily wander around the village.

Tin Hau Temple

My son peeping into the Tin Hau Temple in Fang Ma Po Village, Lam Tsuen.

I also pondered a relevant and sadly similar story out of Mainland China last week. Here is the print edition headline from the article in Saturday’s South China Morning Post:

Knifeman injures 23 in Henan school attack.”

Emphasis on “knife” and “injures” (in contrast to “gun” and “kills”) is mine. An on-line version of the story with a slightly different headline can be found here.


I dream of a brighter, less violent future for America.

I wish for better care for the mentally ill.

I hope for serious gun control in America.

9 responses to “Wishing a better future for America in Lam Tsuen

    • Everything about it is sad and difficult, isn’t it?

      I spent part of this morning with my daughter’s Year 1 class playing “musical statues” to “Gangnam Style” (a song they all clearly adore; every one of them has that horsey dance down-pat). It raised my spirits tremendously, while at the same time made me crushingly sad for the families who lost their children on Friday.

  1. Sad that the trees are so burdened by wishes that they need to take a break. In light of everything that’s happened recently, it seems like an apt image of the burden of everything that’s wrong. Or maybe it’s just like The Giving Tree, happy to be of service even when it can’t help anymore.

  2. I don’t know how we, as a civilized society, ever get to this point. Aren’t there any safe places left for our kids? Have we learned anything from Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and countless others over the years?

    I only wish our politicians would grow some spine to take on the Gun Lobby and enact some sensible gun control laws to restore our faith in humanity. I do not have high hopes at this point however given some of our congressman’s proposed solution to incidents like these was to arming our teachers in the classroom!

    I only learned of the sad news after I got off the plane from a HK return trip Friday night. I felt envious folks over there don’t need to deal with daily gun violence and bullet dodging doesn’t need to be taught to young kids as survival skill.

    • It’s all so disheartening. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Another pathetic solution I’ve heard tossed around: re-introduce school prayer. More God (as understood by the ultra-right) and more guns (via armed teachers and broader gun ownership) is not the solution to any of America’s problems.

      And, like your thought on returning to the US from HK, it did make me glad to be here in Hong Kong for the time being.

  3. Pingback: Hong Kong Wishing Festival: “The Hope Will Be Real*” (*even if your house won’t actually fill with gold) | Expat Lingo·

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