Assuming the reader of this blog minimally follows China news, it would be redundant of me to summarize the Yueyue incident of late October. So I’ll get right to the part where a Chinese classmate said that this was an isolated incident that does not reflect a societal trend:
“This incident happened in Shenzhen, where most people are migrant workers. The pressure on migrant workers is so great, and their wages are so low, that it is understandable why none of them saved this girl. If this had happened anywhere else, it would not have been like this.”
It’s almost so ignorant that I should perhaps not have dignified it with lambasting. The most correct part of that statement is that the incident occured in Shenzhen, which it didn’t. But lambast I did; I didn’t even let her finish her statement before saying, “You live in China. You are a Chinese person. You know that’s not true!”
And here I continue. A few months ago I posted on China’s 公共意识 (civic engagement) issues. Dumping one’s refuse into the Huai River, while detestable, is not such an immediate and obvious act of disregard for another’s well-being as having walked by a dying two-year-old. And were this incident fully explicable via the Peng Yu case, I would have less to say. I must disagree, however, with the writer of that China Daily article just cited (I knew I was getting myself into trouble sourcing from China Daily); that is, the reason no one will help a dying person is not solely because of the Peng Yu case. Peng Yu, after all, did knock over the old woman, as a recording of the 110 call he placed later revealed (one of the state’s better-kept secrets; they found this recording expos facto, but wanted the case dead and buried).
No, this is a grave issue. I could write all day, re-hash the civic-mindedness post, add religious polemic to the mix, but the bottom line is, the inability to think critically is almost as despicable as the inability to take responsibility for one’s mistakes. That the driver drove off is disgusting, but I can accept that he was avoiding a certain fate. Those who passed by are, in my opinion, even worse. But the most despicable of all is embodied in the attitude that “this was an isolated event, not representative of Chinese society.”
This was also the initial reaction of Long Yingtai, a Taiwanese woman who wrote on a similiar issue in the 1980’s in 《中国人，你为什么不生气？》. What frightens me most about this connection is that it is timeless. I don’t really buy into platitudes about society continually getting better, people continuing becoming more civilized – or even the other way around, that people care less and less about others. An issue such as this needs a Tipping Point, and the Peng Yu case was the Tipping Point’s nadir.
I have nothing intellectual to say about this, albeit I tried with my classmate. It’s not necessarily very cool to admit to inspiration via raw emotion, but I’ll go out on a limb. Right now, I truly admire a certain Western-Prize-Obtaining-Who-is-in-Jail-for-Eleven-Years (I’m still not blocked in China!) for many reasons, and at this moment in particular, his optimism is … 很特殊.