In 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered in the courtyard of her apartment building in Kew Gardens, New York. Many bystanders did nothing, and she eventually died from the wounds that she incurred in the attack. The incident awakened the conscience of the country, and compelled more people to come to the aid of those in duress.
Now, a similar incident has taken place in southern China. Wang Yue, commonly referred to as Yueyue, was two when she was hit by a car last week. She laid bleeding in the road while 18 passersby went straight past her, offering her no assistance or aid. Only a ragpicker who was sifting through garbage finally came to her aid, calling the police and her mother. Little Yueyue died yesterday of the injuries that she sustained in the hit and run.
And this death appears to have awoken the moral conscience of that rising country, China. China is growing at a furious pace. Economically and materially, that country is on the march, its power ascendant throughout the east. And yet, the death of this little girl seems to have given pause to this behemoth of a country. Private citizens and the government alike are stopping for a moment to consider the moral implications of having nearly 20 people pass a bloodied toddler in the street, either because they’re ‘too busy,’ or they just don’t care.
I don’t think China is any less of a compassionate country than America. I think the media, both here and there, provides a selective view of what they think will sell, and a cute dead toddler sells well, very well. But, every once in a while, there occurs an event that gives pause to a nation to reflect. China’s changing, rapidly, and up until now, that change was considered purely positive. At this moment, the Chinese nation is engaging in a period of reflection, I think. At the end of the day, whether you’re Chinese or American, money and material goods alone are not going to make you feel good about yourself. That’s a lesson that needs to be learned in China, and one that should be periodically reexamined in America from time to time.
And it’s also telling that the woman who stepped up to the plate in this situation is commonly looked down upon in China. Chen Xianmei, an illiterate 57 year old peasant garbage picker was the only individual who felt either compelled or obliged to render assistance to a gravely injured child who laid dying in the street is a reminder to each of us. I’m not overtly religious, and I don’t think I’ve ever quoted Christ on this blog, but I will do so here: Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me. The outcome in China was sad, but Christ would have been proud of at least one person on that street in Guangdong province.