It’s Fake, For Goodness’ Sake

Matthew 7:15-23

“You have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil”.

Earlier this week, a friend sent me this gem found in the Bible. There were ructions in our chat group about two American pastors who flew to Hong Kong to support the rioters or protestors; whichever word you subscribe to will reveal your stance on the civil unrest there.

Dr Pastor William Devlin and Rev. Patrick Mahoney, both American pastors, went to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to support and encourage the students there to occupy the campus area in their fight against their own government. Fighting for democracy, human rights and freedom was their common catch-cry. That will garner universal support, acceptance and solidarity, right? But, even these learned and wise gentlemen of the cloth are blind to the violence and destruction that the students have perpetrated on fellow Hong-Kongers who do not share their political views or object to their destructive strategies for the past six months. In some interviews, some of these cherub-looking teenage students express their preparedness to die for their cause – for their democratic rights. Little do they know that although the notion of having democratic rights is noble and ideal, once we have won it, many of us somehow do not value it as worthy of a trip to the polling booth. To sacrifice our lives? If we are desperately hungry, yes. Less than 38% of women and 33% of men in the 18-29 age group exercised their voting rights in the 2018 mid-term US elections. Even in the 2016 US presidential election, less than six in ten eligible voters cast ballots for their president. In Australia, we have freedom of speech and freedom of information, except that voting is compulsory and we do not have the freedom to decide not to vote. Those disinterested in exercising their democratic right to vote are ignorant of the name of the Prime Minister and will have little idea what their local candidates stand for at the ballot box. Two federal seats won by the government in May this year are being disputed in the High Court. The reason? Some voters apparently did not know who they were voting for and were misled by the Liberal party candidates’ use of white and purple corflute signs that resembled the official signs of the Australian Electoral Commission. But, in Hong Kong, the young ones seemingly are ready to sacrifice their lives for democracy and freedom. Their concept of freedom is warped though, as they freely hurl verbal abuse and throw punches, bricks and molotov cocktails at those who disagree with their views.

Another friend commented, “How can they be pastors and spend most of their time as human rights activists around the world? It is contradictory! A pastor is supposed to shepherd or to oversee his local congregation…”. Maybe these men see themselves as more powerful than Jesus. They have global reach, whereas Jesus even at his peak could only preach for just over three years, in the Middle East beginning in Roman Judea and ending in Jerusalem. These men were working with members of the American Congress and Trump administration to pass the Hong Kong Democracy Act. Wait a minute. Isn’t that interference in another country’s domestic affairs? Can you imagine what the global uproar would be if America were to pass an Act that is called the Australian Aboriginal Death In Custody Act? That would surely stop the many aboriginal deaths in custody in Australia, right? Or if Australia retaliated and passed the U.S. Mass Shootings Act to coerce their Congress to stop the frequent school massacres there? At the time of writing, the bill for the Hong Kong Democracy Act has been passed, almost unanimously. No, there was not a single whimper to be heard in the West.

Not all who sound religious are really godly people. The way to identify a tree (or person) is by the kind of fruit produced. These American pastors are fake, my friend cried out. They are false prophets in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly, they are sneaky foxes. Their unconditional support for the naive and underage students and their encouragement for the youths to execute violence and destruction in the streets and malls will only breed hatred in their hearts and radicalise their thinking. Many families are broken as a result, their children running away from home to effectively become child soldiers in the fight against the government. Matthew 7:17 – Bad trees bear bad fruit. Will these young Hong Kongers become the pastors’ bad fruit? For the teenagers’ sake, they need a quicker way to identify the bad trees. “These pastors are fakes, for heaven’s sake!” my friend cried out to them.

It begs the question. Why are we so susceptible to charlatans? Fakery is rife everywhere, maybe it is the digital age that has emboldened the quacks. Could it be that the internet has provided the easy avenue for them to spin their charm in their deceitful way? I cannot help it but Trump immediately springs to mind. Apart from mad Madoff ‘s Ponzi scheme, Trump’s fakery must be up there as one of the 21st century’s biggest. His trade war with China was meant to be easy to win and he was going to rip billions back from China for trademark thefts and unfair trade practices. Yet, he is the one to block the appointment of two judges to the WTO’s Supreme Court, and so there is every likelihood that the world’s top trade court will soon be curtailed from making any further rulings.

The WTO is presiding over a record number of disputes, many of them triggered by Trump’s tariff wars with China and other nations. Trade officials say the crisis needs to be avoided because if one of the three remaining judges has to recuse themselves from a case for legal reasons, the system will break down.

China is a serial patents thief? Trump obviously has not read any of Joseph Needham’s voluminous evidence of China’s discoveries and inventions over several millennia. Larry Romanoff wrote, “It is reliably estimated that over 60% of the knowledge existing in the world today originated in China, a fact swept under the carpet in the West.” Joseph Needham, a British biochemist, scientific historian and professor at Cambridge University wrote Science and Civilisation In China, a catalogue of 27 books on Chinese inventions, before he died in 1995. During his research, he discovered there are thousands of inventions that the West claim as theirs even in the face of conclusive evidence that prove that they originated in China hundreds and sometimes thousands of years before the West copied (stole) them.” In spite of clear irrefutable evidence, it is still so easy these days for charlatans to write a different narrative, even an opposite narrative. In the current impeachment hearing, Gordon Sondland, a big Trump donor, who was rewarded by becoming the U.S. ambassador for the European Union, verified many facts from earlier witnesses, and when asked if there was quid pro quo for Ukraine president Zelensky to announce investigations that can help Trump politically, his answer was “Yes”. Zelensky was pressured by Trump to “do him a favour” in order to win a coveted visit to the White House and receive the promised military aid his country badly needs to fight the Russians. Despite Sondland’s testimony, Trump did not resile from standing outside the White House and announce that the case against him is closed. “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zellinksi (sic) to do the right thing. This is the final word from the President of the U.S.” He read it out loudly from his notepad, his fakery well disguised by the strong conviction in his voice. Can it be that we have forgotten charlatans do exist? Or that they only con otherswe are not that gullible? Someone in my workplace said life would be boring if my prediction was to come true – that Trump would be forced to resign by the GOP rather than be impeached. Maybe, just maybe that is the reason why we have allowed these fakes to thrive today. Life’s mundane routine and unending pressures mean we actually welcome such daily light entertainment from charlatans.

This morning, Second Son happily told me he bought a dusty old Chinese vase in a shop in Bonn. “Is it an antique?” he asked with a great deal of hope. He has it displayed proudly on his dining table. I put on my fake auctioneer’s hat and proceeded to describe it. “Late Qing dynasty multi-colour glazed porcelain vase (Guang Cai). Striking pink and blue floral design with beautiful blue motifs on the base of the neck.” The Mrs pricked his hopes and officially announced it loudly “It is a fake, for Pete’s sake!”

A beautiful Chinese vase. Is it an antique?