Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Fragile Morality

The lonely Samaritan

Guangzhou, Guangdong (Southern Metropolis Daily – September 5, 2007)

In a bus crammed with over 60 passengers, 2 men pressed down a lady onto the floor and snatched her cell phone. Zheng shanbing (郑善彬), a 26-year-old man that had been a soldier for two years, at once dashed up and kicked away the robbers. However, at the moment another 6 cahoots rushed onto the bus and surrounded Zheng, the 8 men together gave him a 7-minute hard buffet. During the 7 minutes, the 60 passengers stayed aside without anyone coming up to help him. During the chaos, when the lady was pushed to the crowd, they just eschewed her as if she was a plague.

When the 8 robbers got off in struts, Zheng’s shirt had been torn messy, footprints covered. His cell phone was robbed away. The numb passengers and the driver looked at them silently. The grieved lady glowered at them, crying out, “Where are your consciences! You won’t sleep at good rest tonight!”

The report and the lady’s penetrating charge soon led to fury in the Internet towards the passengers. It’s not the first case of its kind. Chinese call it “Seeing a Dying Man Without Saving Him”. Worn out by such apathy and numbness, some netizens, other than casting fury and condemnation, reconsidered it a reflection of the lack of Samaritan and the degeneration of morality of the contemporary mainland Chinese society.

San Jieyaoxian complaint the morality standard today has backslide:

三界妖仙
我还是学生的时候,在火车站抓个一个小偷,幸亏跑的快,20多个人追,现在我是不敢随便管了,除非身边有朋友,有绝对优势!!!
我们现在的社会就是这个样子!!黑白颠倒,真TM搞笑

When I was just a student I have joined with over 20 people chasing a thief. He was so lucky to escape. But now I dare not meddle in such things, unless I have enough friends with me and have absolute advantage over thieves.

A netizen from Zhongshan, a city near Guangzhou discussed in the point of law;

网易广东中山网友:
事主上了中巴后,己经合法受权中巴公司,中巴公司必须保障他的人生安全及财产安全,现在中巴公司的司机如此不作为,等于己经毁约,建议受害人把中巴公司告上法庭,取回公道和合理的赔偿!

After getting on the bus, clients have authorized the bus company. Therefore the bus company has to guarantee the safety of their life and possessions. However, as even the bus driver didn’t stand out, the company has reneged on the contract. I suggest victims suing the company to gain the justice and compensation they deserve!

Gzz614 from Dalian just quotes Martin’s aphorism:
网易辽宁大连网友 [gzz614]:

“当初他们杀共产党,我没有作声,因为我不是共产党;后来他们杀犹太人,我没有作声,因为我不是犹太人;再接下来他们杀天主教徒,我仍然保持沉默,因为我不是天主教徒;最后,当他们开始对付我时,已经没有人为我讲话了……”

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one left to speak up

Another netizen from Pingdingshan introspects himself:

平顶山网友
我曾经亲眼看见过一个新疆的小女孩在大庭广众之下偷窃一位女士的钱包,可是当时的我不知道居然没有站出来去阻止,现在想起来就惭愧,如果被盗的是我该有何感想呢,事后觉得自己好懦弱,也许会内疚一生,以后如果再遇到此类的事情,我相信自己会勇敢起来的!我们都要弘扬那种正气!

I used to see a Xinjiang girl picking a lady’s pocket but I blenched. I feel ashamed for this. I reckoned what if I had been thieved? I feel myself such a coward. I might be rueful with this for lifetime, and I believe I will perk up if I meet this again! We have to bolster the justice!

Another netizen Laoyingshimeile considers it in a practical way:

老鹰石没了:我碰到过,没人上去,只有我和另一个人冲上去,结果被他们一伙的人赌住了.其实大家不冲上去也有原因,社会没有良好的保障系统,见义勇为把命达上去可以成个烈士,但是要是受伤了医药费住院费谁出啊!!

I have met that, but no one go up except me and another person. But we were blocked by the gang. Actually people have reasons not to go up. We don’t have a nice social security system; Samaritan can be a martyr with the cost of his life. But who would pay for you the cost in hospital?

It is upsetting to know how apathetic people around are. Besides the bus incident above, anther thing pertaining to morality was recorded by a netizen in Nanjing. After reviewing the post, some netizen grumbled: ” Our morality was undermined by our law!”

Aftershock of Pengyu Case

Not long after Pengyu Case did author Shi Hanbing(时寒冰) predict the judgement would lead people to evil and apathy. On 3, Oct, a post with several pictures attached recorded exactly a street incident in Nanjing that testified to his foreshadowing.

The title is: an old man bleeding on sidewalk lied on the ground but no one dared help!

Here is a rough narration of the original post.

I was on my way back company after lunch. I saw an old man over 70 hobbling head-on and suddenly tripped over in front of me 2 meters away. I was stunned, stopping and feeling lucky he didn’t fell down just beside me. Five men around him including me ossified there, no one daring going up.…… I called out that he was bleeding! A 40-year-old woman passing by kept babbling “Don’t meddle, don’t help him up, go, hurry up”, and hustling away.……
A girl bought napkins and helped rub blood stain away from the old man’s forehead, asking people around whether to send him to hospital. Some people immediately told her to go away and never take care of such things. ……She finally went and left the old man on the stair. She might be thinking why she shouldn’t help. The old man couldn’t hold and joggled and then lied down again……

Old man lying on the ground

It happend exactly in Nanjing, where months ago Pengyu was sentenced to be guilty. Is this an ironic story or a tragedy of modern society? I don't mean to blacken or make stunt- we have lots of good deeds and Samaritans to tell we are in a society of hopes, but from the two cases happened recently I have to say our morality is so fragile. We can do better, and we should.

10 comments

  • Burmese

    Chinese ignore Burmese people sufferings
    Chinese disturb Burmese people struggling for FREEDOM
    China said killing, torturing Burmese people by Burmese junta is not concerned with China
    Chinese do not have hearts to help people in trouble
    One day Chinese will be troubled with that low standard attitude
    China has no religion officially

    So they don’t know how to help people in trouble

    Chinese also lie China will let Burmese people decide their future. But practically they disturb Burmese people sruggling for their freedom and China want Burmesse people still live under military regieme that kill its own people and monks.

  • Sorry, but I have to point out that Chinese PEOPLE do understand Burma’s suffering and pain, even have resonance with them. Please refer to these two posts:

    http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/10/08/china-todays-myanmar-yesterdays-china/
    http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/09/28/china-bloggers-side-with-burmese-monks/

    It is arbitrary to tag Chinese apathetic though in cruel struggle for development we might be gradually growing numb. But we have introspection and reconsider our attitude because we realize we will be hurt by apathy. Actually we can see much more news about good deeds everyday; I report those above just for alarm that we can do better. Please believe me on giving others hands we are no less good than any other people.

  • You should do a post and show some photos of the beggers, especially the limp (both as in deformed with difficulty walking, and as in palsied, as in held or propped up by someone else) or limbless. They are frequently seen in Chinese city streets.

  • Mike

    There is a phenomenon known in social psychology as diffusion of responsibility. It basically means that people are less likely to help someone in need if there are other people around, because everyone thinks someone else will, or they are waiting for a cue from others to engage in helping behavior. If the elderly man had fallen down in a less populated area and the narrator was the only one there, he would have been more likely to help him.
    The people actively discouraging helping behavior in others is a bit different, though. There’s a fair amount of selfishness and indifference in America too, and I have seen similar behavior here.

  • […] morning while typing up the weekend GV digest, I felt a special connection with Zheng Shanbing, the 26-year-old sole defender of an older woman who was being robbed on a public bus…. When Zheng came to her resuce he was beaten badly by the robbers for 7 minutes, during which none […]

  • Rose Liu

    on Burmese,
    I am sorry about things happening in your country. but what you condemned about the ignorance of chinese are not ture. At least, as a chinese youth, I hope the pro-demoncracy can win victory over the junta regime at the lowest cast of Burma people. The reason why have the worng ideas about chinese people are that first chinese do not have the freedom of speech too, second all the media are controlled by the goveernment, either you browse through the websites or watch news on TV, we don’t have any news about your country, even we have slightest ones, they have been revised and therefore they are lies.

  • Charles Liu

    Please, Bob, good samaritan beating happens in America too:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20060806/ai_n16664677

  • Indeed. But it is still not right, no matter in Bagdad or Washington. Isn’t it?

  • canrun

    @Charles Liu:
    That incident took place in England. Check your facts first, please.

  • Antonio

    I am a chinese, and i think why this happened is because the onlookers feel nobody would take care of their family if they are hurt during the fight with the gang.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.