I'm not sure if by now, most people have seen the youtube of the 2 year old Chinese girl that got run over twice while numerous people walked by and didn't help. Being in China, I did not see it shown on TV aside from on CNN. And while watching the coverage on CNN, despite the tragedy of the circumstance and the importance of addressing this culturally shaped coldness, the incessant footage loops kind of irritated me. Maybe it was the fact that they kept on about how nobody did anything until the 19th passerby reacted. But why? Am I supposed to believe that Chinese people are just born totally fucked and heartless?
Not to mention enough time had elapsed that the girl was literally run over a second time which is completely horrifying. The situation can easily be classified as beyond fucked, though strangely, with both foreign and perplexing reasoning behind it. Of course on TV, you won't scratch the surface of trying to understand the psyche of any foreign population. It's just easier to blame those 18 people, yet the government and society itself, in this case, is largely to site as a catalyst to this brand of human indifference. I believe it has partly to do with the skewed justice system that exists.
Before giving himself up to the police, the driver of the second vehicle, a van, told the media why he had run away. "If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan (£2,000). But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands of yuan."
Stumbling across this article online was both unexpected and insightful. Written by Lilija Zhang, " How can I be proud of my China if we are a nation of 1.4bn cold hearts?" covers the death of the two-year-old and how it is symptomatic of a deepening moral crisis in China. I do not believe the article attempts to excuse the moral crisis in China, but I do believe that it sheds light on why such a crisis may exist to begin with, citing court rulings and social norms. An even more brutal fact is that people die every day, it is an undeniable part of life. Whether or not people have to die in such depressingly preventable ways is another beast. Those instilled with compassion have to struggle with understanding why people refuse to help others when there is an urgent need to do so. Being a good samaritan is what most societies are taught from an early age; we are conditioned for good deeds. On the other hand there are societies like China that champion materialism especially after the past three decades of dramatic economic growth has been gained at any cost to their own environment and people. Meanwhile, moral responsibility has been left as a shapeless, unpracticed ideal, that in this instance showed itself in all of it's tragic callousness.
However, movements like Occupy Wall Street and other occupy gatherings throughout the world publicly address the shameful nature of corporate capitalism, the bureacracy of "free market trade", and the ensuing moral missteps. However I think it is through our varying social histories and unique national identities that allow for such different realities and results to play out from Zuccotti Park to a small street in Foshan, China. The difference is when I think of the 1% in China, the government comes to mind, not individual billionaires and corporate executives. And I'm not saying that these two incidents are the same by any means. But I think the idea of moral crisis is not isolated as a Chinese problem either.
COLD HEARTS ARTICLE