Wang Yue was a little two-year-old girl who was run over by two cars one afternoon of 13 October 2011 in a narrow road in Foshan, Guangdong. As she lay bleeding on the road for more than seven minutes, at least 18 passers-by skirted around her body, ignoring her.
She was eventually helped by a female rubbish scavenger named Granny Chen. Wang was sent to a hospital for treatment, but succumbed to her injuries and died eight days later. The closed-circuit television recording of the incident was uploaded onto the Internet, and quickly stirred widespread reaction in China and overseas.
Many commentators saw this as indicative of a growing apathy in contemporary Chinese society. Why did it take so long for anyone to stop and help the girl? Her parents blamed nobody but themselves for her death. The terrible tragedy so outraged people that many Chinese people launched a ‘Stop Apathy’ campaign on the internet.
A sign posted at a bus-stop read, “The trouble with this world is apathy.” Someone had scribbled below it, “Who cares.” A news crew was filming people on the street, asking them to respond to this question: What is the biggest problem in the world, ignorance or apathy? Upon receiving this question just as he finished crossing a busy street, one frustrated man simply looked at the camera and responded, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” It’s a fairly typical response today from many who don’t want to get involved. Just keep your head down and mind your own business.
The Tragedy of Indifference
Mother Theresa wrote:
The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbour who lives on the roadside assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease.
She also said, “We can do no great things, only little ones with great love.”
Regarding indifference to the tragedy of divorce, one person writes: “Some time ago, a friend of mine went through a divorce. When I heard the news I was surprised and sorry, but I did nothing. Then one day we happened to meet. You know, he said to me, not one of my friends called me when I was divorced. No one said a word. But what was there to say? I asked. We all knew you both, we all were your friends. What was there to say? It isn’t what you could say, he countered. All you had to do was call. All you had to do was say, ‘I hope everything is all right. Is there anything I can do?’ We who are hurt want to know our friends are still there.”
Luciano Pavarotti says that when he was a boy, his father, a baker, introduced him to the wonders of song. He urged him to work hard to develop his voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in his hometown of Modena, Italy, took him as a pupil. Pavarotti also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, he asked his father, Shall I be a teacher or a singer? Luciano, his father replied, If you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.
Pavarotti, later in life wrote: “I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book—whatever we choose—we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that’s the key. Choose one chair.”
Author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elie Wiesel once wrote: “The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness; it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy; it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death; it’s indifference.”
Go and Do the Same
The Bible gives the remarkable story from Luke 10:30-37—a story of one man who cared, and others who didn’t:
Jesus told this story: “There was once a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
“A Samaritan travelling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?”
“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
Let’s not stand by in life and ignore the needs of others. Let’s do something. That’s what Jesus wants us to do.