Sad how an awful tragedy could be made even worse:
Making headlines around the world is the heart-breaking story of two-year-old Wang Yue. On October 13, a truck and a van ran over Wang Yue in Foshan, Guangdong Province, while 18 people either walked or cycled past the toddler before a scrap peddler, Chen Xianmei, finally rescued her.
… The penniless scrap peddler rescued Wang Yue not because she was internally doing a cost-benefit analysis in her head or anticipating the material rewards of doing so (as some Chinese have accused her of doing), but because it was the right thing to do. So what’s happening right now to Chen Xianmei – the unwanted media attention, the unsolicited cash rewards, and public accusations of her being opportunistic – is itself just as tragic and as depressing as what happened to Wang Yue.
According to the Shanghaiist, the public attention has traumatized Chen Xianmei, and has prompted her to flee her home of Foshan:
‘Now with all of the media attention focused on her, as well as government officials and journalists knocking on her door night and day, Chen says she doesn’t even dare to turn on the television anymore.
‘“A lot of people are now saying that I’m doing it to get famous, and to get money. Even my neighbours are now saying so!” she said. “That really wasn’t my intention, and I’m so afraid of hearing what people are saying that I don’t dare to watch the news. I’m not out for fame or money.”’
Holy crap, China (Not Japan, don’t be dumb, Kosh). As if this story wasn’t already depressing enough in the first place, much less a total dark social spotlight, now its got a fresh layer of awfulness piled on top.
My high school IB Asian History Teacher has focused on the development of China since he was a young man rambling around the world in the 70s and taught there amongst other places throughout his life before settling in Vancouver. He’s inspired a similar kind of interest in me.
Though Kosh’s mix-up was unintentional (he reflexively mis-typed Japan at first out of a much less depressing force of habit), it reminded me of the long reaching impacts of war and the history that precipitated them in China and Japan. The article points out how the human mind has two basic mindsets- utilitarian and altruistic. After the stories that have come out of the Japanese earthquake, especially the nuclear workers, this new one paints a stark contrast.
On a less detached note, it’s good to hear some people in financial standing in China sympathized with Chen Xianmei’s attitude. Hopefully, despite the isolation she’s putting on herself, they’ll be able to reach out to her again.
PS Those interested in this story might be interested in the larger debate of Chinese society’s morality and “Good Samaritan laws,” which mostly came out of a case in 2006 when a young man named Peng Yu helped an elderly woman who had fallen off his bike get to the hospital and was in turn sued by her and her family.
A very hot legal topic these days concerns so-called Good Samaritans, people who assist others with medical emergencies. The typical situation involves someone lying on the street, a victim of an accident, a heart attack, etc. Will that person receive assistance, or will he/she be ignored by passers-by?
The issue became very prominent in 2006 with the Peng Yu case:
On Nov 20, 2006, an old woman fell to the ground and broke her leg after jostling at a bus stop in Nanjing, an eastern China city. A young man, Peng Yu, helped her up and escorted her to hospital. Later the woman and her family dragged the man to court, which ruled that the young man should pay 40 percent of the medical costs. The court said the decision was reached by reasoning. The verdict said that “according to common sense”, it was highly possible that the defendant had bumped into the old woman, given that he was the first person to get off the bus when the old woman was pushed down in front of the bus door and, “according to what one would normally do in this case”, Peng would have left soon after sending the woman to the hospital instead of staying there for the surgical check.
No surprise that many people felt that Peng Yu’s case was not handled correctly, and that the decision would lead to a chilling effect on the willingness of people to act as Good Samaritans in the future. Some statistics published subsequently have bolstered that opinion.