High Divorce Rate in Hong Kong
The first Chinese couple to have officially filed for divorce in modern China was Xu Zhimo & Zhang Youyi. Even though there were no Facebook in those days, Xu was a popular poet, widely considered to be contemporary and progressive with plenty of followers. Had his divorce been successful, “divorce” might have become a fad with many more following his footsteps. Fortunately for posterity, it was a miserable failure. Subsequently, “divorce” did not instantly take off to post any threat to our family values . That was in 1922.
Eighty years later, in 2002, the top 6 countries on the World Divorce Rate Chart were: (1) Sweden, (2) Belarus, (3) Finland, (4) Luxembourg, (5) Australia, (6) United States. The only Chinese community on the list was Singapore at # 32. Neither China nor Hong Kong was on the list. For the next decade, European countries took serious measures to address their social problems and saw significant improvement, whilst countries that didn’t, became much worse.
In 2012 and the World Divorce Rate now looks like this:
Singapore rose from # 32 to 16, China came from nowhere to # 17, and we, Hong Kong, have taken the # 5th place with the highest divorce rate in the world !! Not exactly an achievement to be proud of. The HK Census Bureau’s figures agree with the findings from NationMaster.com, in that our divorce rate lies between 25-30% per total marriages, depending on how one calculates. In brief, one divorce out of every 3 or 4 marriages ! What has happened to us?
Let’s look at some basic, fundamental problems that are common to Hong Kong:
1) We have no sense of time -
We do not know when to stop or how to unwind . We all claim to work nine to five, but nobody really starts at nine and nobody ever leaves at five. Business has a carte blanche, we work weekends, public holidays and evenings if necessary, our families are expected to understand.
2) We don’t know how to communicate –
When we are with family and friends, our Blackberry, iPhone, iPads never leave us. We communicate by gadgets through emails, Whatsapps, blogs, text..We no longer write personal letters and we’ve lost the art to talk.
3) Failure of our education system –
Both in school & at home. Our university graduates cannot spell, their English is abysmal and their Putonghua isn’t better. They are forever scrambling for more certificates but they lack direction and set wrong priorities and life goals .
4) Too much material indulgence –
Everyone is career driven and “success” is defined by the amount of money one makes. We worship status and their related symbols much more than family values.
5) We discriminate against different nationalities –
The rich and poor, the fat and thin, and above all, we discriminate against age, thinking we are better, younger, smarter than the next guy. Humility is the driving engine which motivates us to learn and listen. Arrogance does the opposite. When we stop learning & listening, we stop growing.
6) We are righteous and intolerant -
Easily provoked, we march, yell, throw bananas, what we want we must get. We are belligerent because it’s all about getting, never about giving. Lenient on ourselves, harsh and critical of others, we’ve lost the ability to appreciate people’s merits because we are too busy counting their faults.
Divorces lead to broken families which lead to social problems. Let’s start with baby steps: try to overcome one shortcoming this week and together, make a better society for ourselves.