Al­tru­ism is alive and ...

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

A man re­cently helped a woman, who was knocked down by a car in Taizhou, Jiangsu prov­ince, reach a hospi­tal. But be­fore ven­tur­ing to do so, he took a pho­to­graph of the scene with the woman to avoid be­ing later ac­cused of knock­ing her down. Sev­eral sim­i­lar cases were re­ported across the coun­try in the run-up to and dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val, leav­ing people with mixed feel­ings, says an ar­ti­cle in People’s Daily. Ex­cerpts:

Al­tru­ism has been an in­te­gral part of Chi­nese cul­ture, and there has been no dearth of good Sa­mar­i­tans in the coun­try. But of late, some in­stances of good Sa­mar­i­tans be­ing blackmailed by the very people they helped have made al­tru­ism a com­pli­cated is­sue.

That people have be­come more busi­ness-minded is a good thing. But it is one thing to do a cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis in busi­ness and quite an­other to mea­sure whether it is worth­while to help people in need. If people start in in­dulging in such ma­te­ri­al­is­tic cal­cu­la­tions, they will fur­ther lower so­cial and moral stan­dards in China.

For­tu­nately, there are still people like the man in Taizhou; they re­in­force our be­lief in al­tru­ism and kind­heart­ed­ness by con­tin­u­ing to help oth­ers de­spite know­ing that the ex­ist­ing sys­tem and rules in the coun­try do not of­fer enough pro­tec­tion for good Sa­mar­i­tans.

The dis­cus­sion of such a moral is­sue can­not be sep­a­rated from the com­pli­cated col­lec­tive re­al­ity we live in or from people’s in­di­vid­ual sit­u­a­tions. But one thing is for sure that, op­ti­mist real­ists like the Taizhou man have made greater con­tri­bu­tions to so­cial virtue than people who only in­dulge in empty talks and use the In­ter­net to crit­i­cize ev­ery­one. Such op­ti­mist real­ists de­serve our sin­cere re­spect and ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

The opin­ions ex­pressed on this page do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect those of China Daily US edi­tion.

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