“Education is the way to change the world.” It has been said often enough, but what should be said when students boycott classes? Recent developments in Hong Kong bring this question to mind.

Class boycotts have happened before, in Taiwan and other nations, be it to win benefits for students or to promote political and social change.

Most class boycotts involve university students, while high-school students generally do no more than express concern. Rarely do high-school students take part in class boycotts or organize them.

However, Hong Kong’s new school semester, which began on Sept. 2, began with a class boycott organized by university and high-school students.

Their common aim, through their status as students and by taking this action, was to awaken Hong Kong’s social consciousness and prompt it to advance toward freedom and democracy.

When Taiwanese see high-school students boycott classes and take to the streets in protest, perhaps they should pause and ask themselves what kind of government would compel high-schoolers — who should be studying so that they can go to university and fulfill their parents’ expectations — to take to the streets instead.

People like to keep clear of political issues and discussions by saying: “I stay neutral. I don’t talk about politics.”

Can that kind of person effectively promote change and progress, and go on to change the world?

Why have these high-school students chosen to boycott classes and join the protests?

People who are a little older have accepted the imperfections of the real world, but high-school students are not willing to submit to a sense of powerlessness.

Just as a newborn calf does not yet fear the tiger, they have the courage to struggle in the hope of changing the world for the better.

To persevere even when surrounded by darkness and despair, to hold fast to one’s hopes and ideals, this is Hong Kongers’ “revolution of our times.”

Just a few months from now, Taiwan will have general elections that put the nation’s fate in the balance.

To ensure that the next generation enjoys freedom and democracy, and that they never have to forsake the classroom and take to the streets, everyone must have the prudence to vote in a way that opposes communism and safeguards Taiwan.

Glory to Hong Kong! Glory to Taiwan!

Douglas Tsai is a history major at National Taiwan University.

Translated by Julian Clegg