Whither Morality?

Dateline: Foshan, Guangdong Province, PRC, October 2011. “Girl in Double Hit-and-Run Dies” Yue Yue, a two-year-old toddler, was run over by two vehicles in a hardware market and ignored by numerous passers by. Some 18 people, a surveillance camera shows, passed the accident scene and failed to come to her aid. A full seven minutes after the first vehicle ran over her, a 57-year-old rag collector spotted her and found the parents.

Wang Yang, Guangdong Party Chief reacted with these comments: “Efforts should be made to lift the morality of the whole society and the conscience of everyone and to avoid similar things from happening again.”

Author and journalist Peter Hessler in his highly acclaimed book Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory (2010) notes that many Chinese are searching for some kind of religious or philosophical truth. Has fast paced economic development (some might say rampant materialism) in China put the society’s moral compass into a downward spiral?

Sources: China Daily, October 22-23, 2011, Edward Wong, “Pushing China’s Limits on Web, if Not on Paper”, New York Times, November 7, 2011: A1.





3 responses to Whither Morality?

  1. On January 6th, 2012 at 10:56 am , Yury Gusev said...

    I happened to be in China (international conference on China reform) right after this episode came public. In discussion of this episode I was advised by colleagues from China to never come close neither help people who seemingly need help in the street – for I may be easily accused in inflicting damage to be compensated in cash. Indeed, local experts cited another recent article: bypassing local people strived to help an oldman who fell in the street: they were accused by his relatives of inflicting damage that should be compensated – hospital costs to be covered.

    It was a rag collector who finally strived to help a girl run over by two vehicles: (i) he was 57 years old thus potentially brought up on ‘outdated moral principles’ and (ii) he was risking but rag as his assets should he be accused of inflicting damage. Sounds too rational? Such seems to be instrumental moral principles in China to date.

    And it is not a case of China only. Economy of consumption has killed the morals all over the world: just look deep into our own ‘fundamental’ values and ethics – core principles that drive our decissions where regulations are not applicable. The root cause of unfolding global crisis seems to be in a forgoten and now lost sence of integrity of the Universe.

    A sad discussion, Don, in the eve of 2012 developments over the glode.
    We all are accountable, though.

  2. On January 19th, 2012 at 8:35 am , Sammydog66 said...

    China Daily USA December 29, 2011, has a feature story “Can China’s Moral Fabric Hold Together?” Among other things, the story asserts that people are driven by the idea, to quote Gu Xiaoming, sociology professor at Fudan U. in Shanghai “everything that is not beneficial to me is none of my business.”

    Furthermore, it is claimed that “often people do not come forward to help for fear that they might get framed in the bargain and end up losing money and good reputation.”

    What is going on in China?

    Don Menzel

  3. On February 11th, 2012 at 1:18 pm , Yury Gusev said...

    Wither Morality

    Our (GEC) foresight shows aggravations of the following morality relevant social sustainability risks in BRICs and several other countries:
    • The erasure of the core morality and legal principles in the state of awareness of human beings.
    • The loss of personal identity.
    • The individualism of the members of society.
    • The loneliness of individuals.
    • The gap between cultivated desires (also originated by reflexive management in sales) and real opportunities of the majority of population.
    • The retrogression of morality priorities against the background of rocketing consumption priorities.
    • The malaise, fears and pessimism.
    • The absence of ideals.
    • The absence of a long-term planning.

    We anticipate the following ramifications of the abovementioned risks if they are not responsively governed:
    • Critical degradation of the universal moral and legal principles in the state of awareness of the majority of population.
    • Complete disappearance of collective actors of forethought and collective patterns of future.
    • Augmentation of deviant abnormal behavior and self-destructive behavior of the members of society.
    • Disintegration of societies as the foundation of the states.

    Therefore, we believe it is high time for responsible integrated risk stewardship and adaptive governance.

    Currently, we focus on promoting it in BRICs by awareness raising and educational activities followed by applied analysis and project on national and sub-national levels.
    Rome (Moscow, Beijing, Deli, Rio…) were not built in a day thus it is high-time to start constructing Morality XXI, presumably worldwide.

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