I thought and talked a lot about the moral problems in China, and how and why people don’t follow rules, and why many times, rightousness fails. Here are some sample articles I wrote about.
- The City and Its Moral Boundary
- Lining up for Metro
- How I Drive in Shanghai?
- How I Drive in Shanghai II
- Beggars in China and People’s Attitude
What pullzed me was, why certain things worked like this (breaking of rules) and why it is not like that…
Let me tell my you my ineresting experience during the Spring Festival in Shanghai. This actually helps me to understand the gap between China and US on the understanding of morality, and rules.
In the Middle of No Where
During the Spring Festival, I drove my car (Goudaner) to west-most part of Shanghai. The car broke down on the road exactly near the Xicen Check-point. It is a policeman guarded check-point on the state road G318, which is a major road of Shanghai, all cars leaving Shanghai must pass this check-point, giving the police an opportunity to stop anyone who they don’t want him/her to leave Shanghai.
Since the car is completely broken, and I cannot start it, or move it, I asked my friends to pick up my family (yes, Yifan is with them) members who where are wanted to go, and I waited myself for the towing car to come. That was about 3 hours’ waiting time.
There are long roads connecting to the check point, nothing else. There is almost nothing along the road. You only see many cars running like crazy from and to the check-point.
Need to Find a Toilet
After 1 hour, I just feel that I need to use a toilet. I cannot see one, so I asked the policeman at the check-point:
Me: Excuse me. Do you have a toilet here?
Me: Hmmm… Do you kwow where is the nearest toilet?
Policeman: Go down west. There is one 5 km away in a factory, but I think they closes during Spring Festival.
Me: Hmmm… Is there any other places?
He saw me stood there, hesitating about whether I should try my luck to go there – it may take 1 hour to get there and back by walk, he came up and asked: “Do you just want to piss?” I said yes. He looked at me as if I were from Mars, and then said: “How come there are stupid people like you in this world.”, and left.
Me, left alone with my car in the middle of nowhere, realized what he meant. He, and everyone else just piss in the jungle. Embarrassed, I did the same.
Rules without a Facility Support
When people ask the question, why you do not follow the rules. There are many different situations, and many different answers. Among them, one of the situation is, there is no facility to help people keep the rule. In the situation where there is no way to keep a pretty high standard of rules, the rule itself is in doubt – it is maybe the wrong thing to have that rule in the first place, or people must make sure others CAN find a way to follow the rule.
It reminds me of my trip to Tibet. The first thing the tour guide taught us on the bus when we left Chengdu was, how to piss in the wild area – when car stops, all the men running to the left side, and women to the right. Sounds silly, right? The same behavior of pissing to the ground is not only neccessary in rural areas like Tibet, it is also moral to do it, isn’t it?
Taking another example of following rules: traffic rules. When you are presented in a situation that all the pedstrain sign are always red, will you just stops there for ever, or you walk at red lights. In this situation, it is no longer a moral issue to break the rule “no walk under red lights”, because we are talking about different thing.
In current China, the deeper problems are, there are so many situations that you cannot survive without breaking rules. There are definitely chance to fix it but we don’t have the political system to support it yet. What is your choice? Just like the red bag thta you have to give to doctors, or many other ugly things.
Understand First, Then Fix
So, my point is, I want to describe the environment we are living in and communicate it with my friends in other countries. Many times, the judgement standard is completely different (try to talk to someone who don’t have a toilet facility about do not piss on the street), and even it is the same standard, if there is no facility to support it, we should just talk about how to solve the facility problem, instead of pointing fingures to the person: “You are wrong. How can you do that!”.
At the end, let me quote the story of my favorite movie this year: Slumdog Millionare. You see a young man with integrity, with honor, with struggle and with hope – Jamal. I love the movie so much because the director put a good person into a tragic environment. He cheats, he steals, he is not professional at work, but meanwhile. he is still a good man. By changing the angle of how we see the world and from who eyes, we understand the world better. I would love to thank the director of Slumdog Millionare. At least, it taught me to love the beggar children on the street – they also have their love and hope. They are who they are today because of the lack of a better environment, just like lack of a toilet in the jungle.