Recovering a long-lost social virtue

Updated: 2011-06-15 07:53

By Liu Shinan (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

More than a month has passed since the event was reported by the media but its significance is brought to mind whenever I see drivers breaking the rules.

In April, on a one-way street in Guangzhou, an expatriate stopped a car going in the wrong direction and shouted loudly at the driver: "Stop! There's no driving in this direction. No!"

Undoubtedly this laowai's behavior is admirable. But the significance of the story is far beyond the deed itself. It should make us all reflect deeply on something we have lost for a long time.

I guess that when the expatriate bellowed his rebuke, not only the driver but everybody else who witnessed the scene was shocked. For it is rare in this country for anybody other than law-enforcement personnel to take action to stop an automobile going the wrong way or forcing its way through the crowds on a sidewalk. Doing so will often incur a resentful glare or even abusive language from the rule breaker and curious stares from onlookers.

That explains why the aforementioned expatriate's behavior was deemed "rare and worthy of esteem" by many Chinese netizens.

After they come to China, foreigners, especially those from developed Western nations, are often shocked to discover that it is quite common and widespread for people to violate the rules and disregard public order. Many of them overtly express their repugnance at such behavior.

I too was once the object of such ire.

Ten years ago, when I first got my driving license, I was so enthusiastic about driving that I often exceeded the speed limit. One day I went to work in my newly bought car. I slowed down as I veered towards the gate of China Daily, but my car was traveling quite fast and I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting pedestrians walking in front of the gate. They were apparently startled but none of them said anything to rebuke me. However, a foreigner, who happened to witness the incident, came over and berated me. Sitting in the tightly shut car, I could not hear what he said but I could see he was very angry.

   Previous Page 1 2 Next Page