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This post was edited by goldengrove at 2012-2-29 17:00|
It will be another week before China celebrates another "Learn from Comrade Lei Feng" day on March 5. While the country is prospering, its moral standards seem to be falling precipitiously. Cutting corners is now the norm rather than the exception: milk powerder is tainted; food is poisonious; buildings are of shoddy quality; and trains are derailing.
If we can blame the "state" or the "authorities" for those incidents and scandals, the Xiao Yueyue (a two-year toddler run over twice by vans and ignored by 18 passer-by) episode just tore the Chinese conscience into pieces.
A doubt is hovering above our head: is it still worth it to learn from Lei Feng? Are we actually better off not to learn from him?
I used to be a cynic, scoffing at almost anyone who seems to be a "good samaritan". "There is always ulterior motive," I'd say to myself, "No doubt about that."
Well, some one I know changed my perception. To be honest, I'm still inclined to be a sceptic, but never will I be cynical again.
He was one of my five roommates when I was a in college. Medium-built, plain face, indistinctive voice, shy ... an average person that you wouldn't notice in a crowd. But there is something unusual about him. He never said "no" whenever someone approached him for help.
"Can I borrow your bicycle?" "Yes". "Are you busy? Could you help me with something?" "Hmm, yes." (Even though he was busy) "I'm short of money. Could you lend me some?" "How much? As long as it's within my range." ... Not only that, whenever there was some donation or charity fundraiser held on campus, he would pitch in. (Later, I learnt that he did a couple of part-time jobs and donated quite a sum to the Hope Project. ---- I never approved that, and I still believe Hope Project is a hoax)
And he said he was happy to do that. "What a calculating and manipulating @@@," I thought to myself, "Trying to win over the class mates so that he can have the scholarship and be the president or some student offical of the school?"
Problem is he never run for any student office nor he wanted to be any student official. Until one time, when I was seriously sick, lying on my bunkbed, he helped prop me all the way to a nearby hospital and paid all the expenses in advance, did I realize that it's just who he was.
Sometimes when the six of us went out together, he would give any beggar lying on the street or in the underground tunnel some money. "Most of them are just fake," I would scold him. "At least some of them are real," he would retort. My other roommates would just shake their heads, mockingly call him "Lei Feng". He would smile, and say proudly "That's me!"
"Stupid," that's how I, as well as the other roommates, describe him, when he did those "stupid things".
And he isn't even religious, at least as far as I konw.
Overtime, we became immune to it. And we realized that he didn't have any ulterior motives, or if he had, we didn't know. Indeed, at the end of the senior year, he volunteered to become a teacher and went to Guizhou.
For two years, he lived in one of the harshest places in China. There were no proper roads, no proper transportation, no proper house to live in and even the drinking water was scarce. In fact, he had only one shower during his stay there --- All this he told us after he returned one and a half year later, much like a Bigfoot suddenly intruding into our normal life.
But he was happy, never complaining and forever talking about how he loved his students. Even now, he keeps writing letters and sending money to some of the poorest children.
If you think that's all, you are sadly mistaken. Just less than a year after he returned from his volunteer work, he joined another self-organized volunteer team as soon as the Sichuan Earthquake struck.
Flights were discrupted by then and they could only drive near the place and walk for long hours. How hard it was for him, I don't know, since I never went there. For me, donating money is just enough, as I regard rescue operations to be the job of the military, not amateurs like him. But to him, "if you want to help, you should try your best."
No award for guessing that he also went to Qinghai, when the Yushu Earthquake shook again. These are just what I know. How many other "missions" has he embarked on I can't possibly know.
Yes, we talked about "Lei Feng" and we still argue about him and the so-called spirit. Does he know that many of Lei Feng's "heroic deeds" are simply untrue? Yes, he does. Does he understand that Lei Feng is as much a real personality as a
concoction by the Chinese propanda? Yes, totally.
Their denuciation of Lei Feng is just a reflection of their frustration with the authorities, with the establishment.
But does that mean we shouldn't help others? He asks. Does that mean people should just abadon their morality? Does that mean that we should just stand there and watch Xiao Yueyue die (even if we did so)? In fact, he isn't trying to emulate Lei Feng or anyone.
"I'm just listening to my conscience."