Thursday, October 20, 2011

What the Hell is Wrong With China?

You may have seen the story about the little girl in China hit by a van, whose driver stopped, then after realizing he hit someone, sped away, in the process running over her again, and who--after about a dozen people walked pass her tiny broken body, ignoring her cries and the trail of blood--was ran over again by a second vehicle, only have another half-dozen more people walk past her before a 58-year old woman who makes her living (if one can call it that) by picking up discarded rags and other pieces of cloth (which are then cleaned and re-used as stuffing in teddy bears and such) finally stopped and moved her out of the path of traffic before getting help.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly given the extent of her injuries, she died early this morning (Friday the 21st).

I was unwilling to watch the internet video showing the girl being hit, but I did watch the CNN after accident clip which, except for tiny sporadic movements, almost seems to show people walking around a small sack of bloody clothes. Only, of course, it's a human child and not a sack of soiled clothing. Which led me to ask: What the Hell is Wrong With China?

Having made at least 9 trips to China, and in fact, having shopped in the same industrial city where this little girl died, I find myself in the somewhat unique position of possibly being able to answer this question.

The first thing one needs to understand is that Foshan is Poor (with a capital P). Small children, like little Wang Yu, wander the streets in pants without backsides because thier parents can't afford diapers (yes, they can't even afford cloth diapers). While most toddlers eventually learn to use the gutter, this makes for quite the hygiene problem--if you ever visit Foshan, or anywhere in Guangzhou for that matter, always watch where you step. The child's parents were almost certainly working at the time of the accident. It's quite common for parents to take their kids to work, even in factories and, since the parents are working, no one is around to watch them--at least not very closely.

Tragically, little Wang Yu probably slipped unnoticed out the front door of a small business (it's clear from the photo that the street is a (one-way) back or side-ally--the kind of place Westerners avoid after dark.

My first thought was that China's mentality--one of the whole over the self--simply tolerates this sort of death--a blind eye to a single child's plight. While this is true of China as a society (think of Mr. Spock's 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few') it doesn't explain why so many people could simply walk or drive around a child we know from eye witness accounts was crying out and moaning in pain.

In fact, the more time I spend in China, the more I get to know individual Chinese, the more I realize they are just like you and me. They love their children just as much; they routinely sacrifice much more than we in the States can even imagine, just for a shot at something better for their kids. And it's not just a generation unemphatic youth. I know young Chinese who put off buying their own homes, so they can first buy one for their parents to retire in.

Could you imagine 20-somethings in the US, saying, "Oh, I can't buy a house, I haven't purchased one for my parents yet"?

So, what is it that could cause such callous behavior? Could it be that this sort of thing might happen anywhere, in the US, maybe Europe? After all, the proverb of The Good Samaritan is, well it's proverbial. But to ignore a dying child? And by so many people over and over--No, we wouldn't do this.

What is it in China's makeup that allowed this to happen. After much contemplation, I'd like to offer my opinion: it is a lack of Faith. And no, I'm not talking about Christianity or Monotheism. It's much deeper, it's a lack of Spirituality. In the US even most atheists consider themselves spiritual--especially when compared to the average Chinese.

All of the Chinese I know are Buddhist, but they aren't Buddhist like the people we might know who belong to that religion. In fact, they aren't even like Christians who only go to mass on Christmas and Easter; they lack even that level of faith.

Buddhism is just something someone stamped on their ID cards when they were born--they have no real connection to it.

But it's not for lack of interest. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked about Jesus, or God, or prayer. But here's the problem: it's always once I've gotten to know someone, and always in private, or in hushed whispers in the corner of a restaurant.

The Chinese people aren't free; not just free to vote and determine the course of their lives. They aren't free to determine the course of their souls. If the Chinese government would let people find God, Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, whomever, then China would find her own intrinsic morality. China can't force Buddhism on its people, or even tell them what type of Christians they can be.

Faith would look different for each person, but it would be something they truly believed in--believed in deeper than they can now even comprehend.

Sure, it would vary in each person, some literally wouldn't hurt a fly. A few might push an old lady aside to get a seat on the train. But I doubt a single individual would rush by a dying child--they'd have a connection to something inside of them that wouldn't let them.

Without the freedom to look inside themselves, to question their existence, and to find their own answers, China will forever walk with a blind-eye past by all of its dying souls.

Update (10/23):
It seems this post has apparently angered some living in China. I do apologize to anyone I offended.
The message I was trying to get across is that the Chinese are, at their core, exactly like you and me--they are a good, moral people. However, by trying to control all forms of media (especially the written word) the Chinese government has fostered the profound and disturbing apathy shown in that terrible story. My words are meant as a warning, not just about censorship, but about the unintended consequences of trying to control the way a people think and while I didn't mean to offend anyone, I do stand by them.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. I was quite baffled by what had happened in China. Not only the case on this lil innocent girl who got hit and ran over which left me mind blown. There are also other cases which are way too bad to be true. Like the woman died after hit by trolly at shopping mall due to a man's negligence. A boy got stuck at a veranda of a flat. Little girl was thrown from a high building. Two cars owned by the two family members crushed each other on the jammed road due to some internal fight. and quite recently a baby got stabbed with a scissor after he accidentally bit his mom's nipple while breastfeeding. All of these incidents made me felt troubled. I can't help but asking why and why...I hope there would be some changes happen in China that everyone can be happy with.