“If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? But… the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” ―Martin Luther King Jr.
What would you do if a friend fell into a lake and was in serious risk of drowning? Would you jump in after her? What if there was no Good Samaritan laws in your country, and you could risk financial ruin?
Wu Bo and Liu Hon, both from China, were faced with this dilemma when two of their friends fell into a lake. They attempted to save them, but were unsuccessful. Following the incident, the boys were pressured into settling with the friend’s family to the tune of 50,000 Yuan ($8,415 CDN).
In China, if you try to rescue someone and are unsuccessful, you might be financially liable to the victim or their family since China lacks a national law that protects Good Samaritans.
The fear of reprisal for lending a helping hand has been perpetuated by high-profile lawsuits resulting in Good Samaritans having to pay large fines.
The full extent of the negative consequences of a lack of protection for Good Samaritans was demonstrated in China in 2006 when Wang Yue, who was two years old, was hit by a truck. Despite 18 passersby that saw the injured girl lying on the road, no one stopped to help her. Subsequently, another truck hit the girl and she died in the hospital one week later of brain injuries.
The little girl’s death sparked an outcry in China and the international community for new laws. Gingzai Xiaoben posted a quote on China’s Twitter equivalent, Sina’s Weibo: “I hope that this little angel who was discarded by society can act as a wake-up call to the nation about the importance of moral education.”
Fast forward to today, as people gather to remember the little girl that was killed, Shenzhen’s government introduced a Good Samaritan law designed to protect those that help people in need from later being held financially liable for unintentional injury or death.
The government will also offer compensation if a Good Samaritan dies or is injured while helping. This law marks the first of its kind in China.
Will enacting this new law protect Good Samaritans? It’s important to look at the cultural context of the necessity of such laws in accurately examining how it will affect the way people choose to help each other.
The Chinese have an obsession with accumulating wealth, one that’s rooted in a long history of extreme poverty.
A documentary, called the Young and Restless in China, about a new generation’s role in influencing China’s culture, Lu Dong, a businessman in China, explains the effects of China being poor for a long time, saying “it’s like a kid from a poor family [that] goes into a candy store… he’s been hungry for a long time and he’ll grab a lot of candy… even if he has filled his pockets and mouth, he still wants more… so the Chinese are very hungry right now and very hard to satisfy.”
Handel Lee, a businessman in China who authored a video series called China on the Rise, spoke about China’s “single-minded focus on money” recalling a Chinese friend who moved to America on a temporary basis to learn about other ways of doing business before coming back to China. Lee’s friend ended up making the decision to stay in America saying she doesn’t “want their young son to grow up in such an every-man-for-himself society.”
Will China find its moral compass despite its cutthroat relationship with achieving financial wealth? Perhaps the fact that Shenzhen’s government enacted Good Samaritan laws, despite being uncommon in legal systems that operate outside English Common Law, marks hope for Chinese citizens that they are ready for change.
Will the Good Samaritan laws protect helpers in a similar way that they have succeeded elsewhere in the world? What role will China’s culture play in its ability to enact these new laws?
Photo Source: FlickrPosted in: Current Events, Legislation