The death of a two year old

Thursday 20 October was a day of drama. The news in the morning was of the last ditch attempt by the decision makers in Europe to save the euro, a currency whose collapse would have a serious knock-on effect round the world.

The reports made it sound a moment of high drama, a make-or-break moment for the planet. But by the evening this apocalyptic scenario was sidelined as the news came though that Gaddafi had been killed in Libya and the revolution was finally complete. From then on the news was dominated by Gaddafi’s death and its implications. But slipped in between all these historic events was one little item; a two year old girl had been run over in China and the country of over a billion people was in uproar.

Seemingly the child was hit by a car and surveillance cameras recorded 18 people walking by the dying girl and ignoring her (Luke 10:31). What infuriated the Chinese, when they learnt this, was the realisation that there was such a moral ‘vacuum’ – a word constantly used – in their country that people seem to have lost any sense of compassion for others.

The implication is that it was not always like that but that years of communist rule has robbed the people of any sense of individual responsibility for others. The state is responsible for everything. Any sense of beyond the here and now, any sense that there is a God who made us and loves us, each and every one, even the little girl dying by the roadside, has been lost or at least smothered.

This is not to say that belief in God is necessary to have a compassionate heart. The devoted lives of countless people round the globe today, many of whom do not explicitly believe in God, is evidence enough to show this is not true. But China has developed a particularly hostile attitude to religious belief which is now showing its fruits. Hence the rage of the Chinese at what they appear to sense is something lost in the midst of their roaring economic growth. I wonder if any readers knowledgeable about China would agree with this diagnosis.

What this says to me is something good and something not so good. The not so good shows the moral vacuum transported overseas in China’s relations with the countries it invests in, Zimbabwe among them. China’s reputation is fast becoming one of ruthless exploitation of raw materials without much consideration of the people it employs or indeed the sensitivities of the countries it invests in. President Sata won votes by promising to do something about this.

The good side of all this is the Chinese rage at their own moral vacuum, the sense that their leaders are exploiting the rest of the world in their name without their consent. To be fair to their leaders, they too realise the vacuum exists and they have softened their attitude to religion so much so that Christianity, for one, is growing in China faster than anywhere else in the world.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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