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Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Nation's Shame Raises the Moral Consciousness of the World

"Wang Yue died about 12:32 a.m. Friday"

Do you know who she was? She was a little two year old girl nicknamed "Yue Yue" who lived in China. A week ago she wandered into a market street and was hit by a van. As is too often the case the driver, aware he hit her, stopped his vehicle, got out, then chose to drive away. Originally it was an accident. But then it became a hit and run made so much worse as he ran his rear tire over her as he fled the scene.

Image of Yue Yue a second before being hit. From a video on CNN.com

As if a hit and run accident that caused further injury to the victim isn't bad enough what transpired over the next six minutes was not only unthinkable, it was captured on video. Over a dozen passersby, 18 to be exact, saw Yue Yue lying injured and bleeding in the street and chose not to help her. Then a second truck ran over her and didn't stop. Finally a 57 year old woman named Chen Xianmei, collecting trash off the street saw Yue Yue and drug her to the side of the road to safety before she could be run over a third time.

Image of passersby ignoring Yue Yue. From video on GlobeAndMail.com

While the international media debates the reasons for the lack of compassion and empathy by those who saw little Yue Yue lying in the street (some could even hear her groaning in pain) all I can say (and it may sound judgemental but I'm going to say it anyways) is that there is no reason good enough to excuse this incomprehensible lack of humanity.

A second wave of shock and outrage went through me when my friend Chris posted the link to this news story on Facebook. In it the article says about the only woman who stopped to help Yue Yue that ". . .critics have accused her of helping the girl merely out of a desire for publicity."

Seriously? Twenty others left her to die and there are people willing to criticize the only person who stopped to help?

Perhaps even more unbelievable is that Yue Yue's mother Qu, who accepts responsibility for failing Yue Yue by allowing her to wander into the path of danger, bears no ill will towards the people who chose not to help. She said:
"I won't judge them. Let them make their own judgment. If they are married and have children, they will know. But I bear no grudge and refuse to be disappointed by society. Many kind people have come to help."
What happens in China may seem a world away but make no mistake, this isn't a problem that exists only in China, it happens in cities and countries all around the world. Even here in the United States. It's called the Bystander Effect. It's a phenomenon that occurs when someone is in trouble or need and the odds of that person receiving help from bystanders is diminished the more witnesses there are to their need. Meaning: If one person saw you in trouble the odds are they would be more likely to help you than if 17 or 70 other people were there at the same time.

A show on ABC hosted by John Quinones explores this phenomenon.

CLICK HERE then click on the months to view past episodes to watch online.

"What Would You Do" shows both the lack of connection and compassion some people have towards their fellow human beings and the passion and courage others display to protect someone they don't even know when confronted with an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. The staged scenarios, caught on hidden camera, display the morality, humanity and conviction, or lack thereof by how witnesses choose to react to what they are seeing.

If you're as shocked as most of the world is by what happened to little Yue Yue and are asking yourself "How could this happen?" my suggestion is to watch several episodes of What Would You Do? and you'll begin to grasp how this did happen.

It's tragic that it takes the pain, suffering and needless loss of a two year old's life to awaken the consciousness of an entire country and the world. At times like this it would seem we, as a species, are de-evolving as many of us seem to care more about money, prestige and power than the well being of our fellow man. Our capacity to care (at all, altruistically and empathetically) is, imo, one of our greatest gifts. Perhaps the next time you see a fellow human being in need you will try to help, even if in just a small way. I've tried to do so in the past but will, to honor Yue Yue, try harder in the future.

RIP little Yue Yue. You will never be forgotten.

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