One Author’s Plea for a Gentler China

Tea Leaf Nation translates a bleak essay on the state of Chinese society by Murong Xuecun, which was reposted on Sina Weibo over 36,000 times last week before being deleted.

We live in an age when dust blocks the sky. Politics is dirty, the economy is dirty, and even culture smells like it’s rotten. Our heart is supposed to be clear like the water in the autumn and the unending sky, but if we place it in the dust for a long time, then it can’t help but getting dirty and frangible. When we mail fragile items at the post station, the staff there will stamp the image of a red glass on the package to show that what’s inside is fragile. I hope everyone stamps a red glass on their heart too. It will remind us that this is a heart that needs sympathy and a heart that needs clarity. It is precious, but it is also fragile. We should take care of it every day and keep it free of dust. It should be as clear as the water in autumn, and as clean as the sky.

The essay echoes a widespread angst about moral decay:

[…] If you could quantify empathy, it might sadden you to discover that residents of Mainland China rank very low. In the famous Wang Yue incident [CDT's link], a two-year-old girl died in the middle of the road, and 18 people walked by without helping. These 18 people represent a greater number, a very unkind number of people that will yell at beggars, ignore victims of distant disasters, and even lack empathy for their own relatives. If people are beaten, they’ll just stand around and watch. If people are complaining, they’ll just coldly mock them. […]

A somewhat more optimistic view of the Chinese moral character appeared in Li Chengpeng’s recent reaction to the Beijing floods. From chinaSMACK’s translation:

Chinese people’s characters are ordinarily suppressed by a certain power. When a nation is only keen on purchasing cars for officials instead of building up public transportation, when the Ministry of Railways only cares for major construction projects instead of doing a better job on public service, people have to have low characters simply for self-protection. But the humanity is there, like a luminous pearl, normally ordinary and unremarkable like a rock, but in the key moment shining brightly. Everybody knows——that old man in the water clearing the clogged drains and sewers, those sanitation workers who stood in front of the open sewer manholes [to prevent others from falling in], those men carrying bottled water and bread who rushed into the rainy night to search for trapped people, those city residents who normally would be paranoid by by a crossed line at this moment bravely publicizing their own addresses and cell phone numbers to provide food, shelter, and a hot bath ….

See more about and by Murong Xuecun via CDT.

July 30, 2012 3:32 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society