Sunday, 23 October 2011

China searches for its soul

If you are a Sinophile, this is old news and you don't want to read about this anymore; if you are not, this may be new to you. Little Wang Yue, affectionately called Yueyue is dead. She was only 2.

Yueyue, a toddler, wandered on to a road in Foshan, a southern Chinese city and was hit by a vehicle. A security camera filmed the whole scene. 18 passerbys saw her lying in a pool of blood, but walked on and did nothing to help her. The driver who hit her, drove on. Yet another vehicle hit her as she was lying injured. Finally a noble lady, a rag picker, Chen Xianmei, came to help her. Yueyue was taken to hospital. But she slipped into a coma and died.

China is going through a bout of soul searching. The security video that filmed the whole grisly thing has gone on the Net. Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter (Twitter is still banned in China), has millions of messages bemoaning what happened. China is asking itself the question - has materialism and money become so domineering that human values have taken a backseat ?

The driver of the first vehicle who hit her, has allegedly said (not entirely corroborated) that if the victim dies, he would only have to pay 20,000 yuan, whereas if she had survived, he would have to pay her medical costs for life.What about the 18 passerbys who looked and walked on and did nothing to help a 2 year old lying critically injured. What makes a human being do that ?

Part of it is the so called Peng Yu effect. In a famous case in Nanjing, a good samaritan called Peng Yu helped an old woman who had been injured in a bus stop. He even took her to hospital. For his labours, he was sued by the woman and a stupid judge ordered that Peng Yu must pay 40% of her medical bills (the learned idiot ruled that Peng Yu would not have stopped to help unless he caused her to be injured). Similar cases have happened. People have faked injuries in order to be able to sue the person who came to help. 

Money is God and undoubtedly the dominant religion in China. But that does not mean that the society has lost its human values. Far from it. Chinese can be the most affectionate and friendly of people. I know it from personal experience. One case does not typify Chinese society. But it certainly must trigger, as it has, a bout of soul searching.

Not just in China, but everywhere else in the world. Alas what happened to Yueyue would happen in many countries in the world. Including my own. People will turn their faces and keep going and do nothing to help.  But there will also be a Chen Xianmei, who will stop and assist. Usually it is the poorer sections of the society who will be more ready to help. If somebody is lying injured on the road, the BMW will slow down to look, but is more than likely to drive off. It is the pavement dweller or the homeless, happening to be around, who will rush to help.

Sorry Yueyue. The world did not care for you. Your family  may not believe in religion, but I do hope there is a God somewhere who has taken you in His arms.


Sandhya Sriram said...

Take an example, when you drive on a highway and you find someone injured, you would never stop. because the first thing that you would worry is that whether some one is faking it to loot you. Possibly also because you are carrying money and other valuables as against the pavement dweller who has nothing to lose.

One part is soul searching. the other part is that world is not going to turn around and change. you are going always going to have thiefs, buglars, cheaters, (maybe we can have politicians also to this list) and we have to be careful and consious about this. But where the line is drawn is an individual's own conscious. and as long is one is consciously aware and true to the human values that one wants to live, maybe, subtly god will give him the right directions at the right occassions.

Yes we all need to soul search. but soul search that our conscious can give us the right signals at the right time.

Sandhya Sriram said...

I have been soul searching for some time that what is going wrong with me. i am missing your posts, that which are my biggest inspirations, almost like oxygen and can see that possibly that is why i am heavily suffocating (and resultant feedback that i have from u on my latest post). it has been ages since i have managed to post the first comment on your post. now finally, i am there. even though for this once. hope i can keep it going from here :-)

gils said...

sandhya madam solratha apdiye vazhi mozhigiren. vara vara sattasabai mathiri adichi unga comment section.nan comment poda varathuulla en pointlaam elaarum solidraanga :( so ullen aiya mattum sollikaren.

TheMillionMiler said...

well, think for a moment what would happen in India. You dare tp take someone to the hospital, you are in for big trouble.Private Hospitals will deem it a medico-legal case(whatever that is!!) and refuse entry. you find a govt hospital, coax, cajole and bribe the sentry to let you in, bribe the ward nurse/boys and get the patient into ER, wait for the docs, wait for the cops and for all your troubles you end up spending the night in the Police station trying to defend your actions. Sad but true, some one injured in the road is often left to die.
PS: Don't call an ambulance, in India the Pizza delivery is faster than an ambulance

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - There will always be good and evil in the world, but if we imagine evil in every corner, the world would be a terrible place indeed. Maybe its better to try and help and be robbed, rather than not try at all ?

@Sandhya 2 - You are absolutely fine; forget this dry blog - have fun with your little boy and all will be well :)

@gils - That is an impossibility - nobody can comment like Gils and take his points away. You are absolutely unique Gilsu - a combination of charming wit and a deep insight, packaged to deceive as a mokkai !

@kiwi - Oh no; its not so bad at all. Many many help, especially from the poorer sections of society. Sometimes it does happen as you say, but thankfully there are more times when it is much much better.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you would discuss this. I was reminded of an excellent post that was written up by Deepa awhile back that now seems incredibly prophetic in its hypothetical scenario.

I hope she does not mind me linking it here, but it is a thought provoking read and prompted some interesting comments.

I am with you Ramesh, how can anyone ignore a little girl bleeding in the street? This has been a huge story here in America and I am surprised at how many psychologists have tried to explain this as a case of 'bystander phenomenon'. The sinophiles and the Chinese know what the reasons are and it is more to do with financial repercussions than psychological phenomenon.

Sometimes tragedies like this are a true gauge of where we are as a human race and what a sad statement that anything would enter someone's mind when walking by little Yueyue other than to help. Hopefully her death will bring about much needed reform and much needed good samaritan legal protection in China.

sulo` said...

awwwwww... whatta post! :( It sure feels horrible to get to know of things like this... and the way you have expressed it in the last few paras touched a chord...

May her soul rest in peace...

Anonymous said...

Oh heart went out for Yueyue too when I read about it.

It must be a good case study for someone to research about how human mind works. How can so many people ignore the urge to help out a little one? How does one explain self protection vs saving a life?

As you have said, there are still people like Chen xianmei who can still reach out selflessly and that keeps the world going.

Definitely a dire need for some soul searching for all of us.

May the kid's soul rest in peace.

Ramesh said...

@Hopfrog - Thanks for linking to Deepa's post. Eerily prescient. As you say, such instances are a true guage of us as a human race. And the result is a confusing mixed bag. For every unconcerned heart of stone specimen, there is also a caring heart of gold angel.

@sulo - Amen

@hema - In China, as in India, this sort of a thing happens far too often, but what absolutely shocked the world and hence prompted so much of soul searching is that the victim was just 2 years old.

Deepa said...

All I am going to say is, 'if ever I am in a similar situation, and god forbid there is a moment of doubt in mind, may god give me the courage to do the right thing'.

Vishal said...

Thanks for such posts, Ramesh! Really keep us grounded all the times and give strength to do right things. Really not easy thing to do especially for the reasons mentioned by you and TMM. I believe that it is the courage and sense of humanity that counts more than anything else.

Just think about this part of the world where I live now and compare it to the part of world where I lived for some amount of time (City of Joy). Wonder if east would marry west some day! Really feel sad for Yueyue.

J said...

My heart goes out to the parents who I am sure relive this moment constantly. And I wonder about the people who walked away - how can they live with themselves. I have to believe that they must feel like they murdered a child. The worst part is that after a short time of intense soul-searching, people will just move on with their lives.

Ramesh said...

@Deepa - Beautifully put. I hope and pray for the same thing.

@Vishal - Indeed its courage and humanity that counts. Your city probably has some ground to catch up, but the City of Joy , these days, is not hugely better.

@J - Yes, after a few days life goes on. But I think in China this has made a deep and lasting impact. Next time (alas there will be a next time), people will not walk away so easily.

sulo!!! said...

happy diwali ;)

Vishal said...

Happy Diwali! Wish everyone on this space a great and prosperous times ahead! :)

Venkat.. said...

If i am able to remember that i will be dead soon and all this world's joy & money will go out of me, i cant stop myself or run away from helping others in such situations.

(village people gain my most respect on such situations, they stand very high in thier life with humanity)

Ramesh said...

@sulo - To you too.

@Vishal - Amen

@Venkat - Great perspective. I disagree however that village folks are higher on the ethical scale - my experience actually is the opposite . Witness rampant casteism, discrimination of women, etc etc. In my experience, the lot with the highest "human index" is the urban poor.

Appu said...

You should also have put a disclaimer not for faint hearted. Though it was already known, your description was so touching!
As Sandhya said, not just China, All of us should so some soul searching. In India, if accident cases, the hospitals can admit with out questions or troubles. if they refuse they can be sued. some law similar to this dies exists

Venkat.. said...

may i say its only about such situations.

Ramesh said...

@zeno - Yeah sometimes the law is indeed an ass. Even in China, they are scared of getting sued.

@Venkat - I understand. Just want to say that I respect your view and I hope you won't mind if we can disagree very respectfully. This forum gains a lot by different views and I am very thankful to you for expressing what your view is which is very valid and something I much appreciate.

RamMmm said...

Closer home, something similar happened in Coimbatore recently and captured by a traffic camera (I am surprised we have one!) at a busy key intersection. A man was pushed off his bike and hacked in the middle of the road when the signal was red and it turned green and the "entire" vehicular crowd standing at the signal, just passed the severely injured man leaving him to bleed to death.

We hate the auto drivers for their haughtiness, but they are better than 'us' (sorry for the sweeping generalization) when it comes to giving a helping hand in an accident.

Ramesh said...

@RamMmm - Lovely to see you in the blogworld after a brief hiatus. We've missed the Senor.

I missed the Coimbatore incident. Totally agree about auto drivers - they are often the first to help.

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