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Time for good Samaritans to step forward

As I crossed a busy road in the sprawling center of Beijing the other day, yet another fast car came swerving around the bend - against the light, of course - just short of running over the tops of my boots. And as I instinctively froze on the tips of my toes, a skill which many people in this country seem to have involuntarily mastered, I felt my heart almost skip a beat. 

This was not long after a woman in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province, who, several days ago, was not nearly as lucky in avoiding one of China's countless road collisions: She wound up knocked off her scooter and pinned beneath a car. 

Ever so fortunately for her, she was pulled out by the quick and selfless actions of more than 10 people, including motorists and pedestrians, who together managed to lift the vehicle trapping her and pulled her out to safety - an act of goodwill that she later graciously thanked them for. 

It was a scene starkly opposite to that witnessed just a day earlier in the province's city of Jinhua, west of Ningbo, where passersby responded to an old man who had toppled from his bicycle by forming a "safety island" around the motionless senior - stopping short of lending a hand. They worried that when he came to, he would sue those who had tried to help him. 

A police officer eventually arrived on scene, and the man was taken to hospital. Luckily for him, despite the lack of immediate care and attention he received from passersby, he was fine and doctors treated him only for minor injuries before releasing him. 

After repeated cases of good Samaritans being subsequently blamed by victims for trying to do the right thing, the majority of people in China are reluctant to help out under such circumstances, even when they know they should, according to a recent online poll by news portal 

The public continues to reel from the country's most recent case of such dishonesty, in which an old woman in Dazhou, Southwest China's Sichuan Province attempted last month to sue three schoolchildren for coming to her aid by unsuccessfully pointing the finger at the students for causing her fall. 

It is perhaps why so many Net users strongly opposed public criticism of the passersby who had failed to help the old man up, denying that their refusal to come to his aid meant they were people "without a conscience."

Amid the online debates over whether it is acceptable to take a step back in these situations, Net user Yang Yanming mused that the problem could have been essentially solved as a whole: "If lots of people had helped the man up together, all of them would have been able to serve as witnesses - if it came to that, which would have lessened their likelihood of being framed for the accident by the old man."

Keeping in mind the spirit in which the advice was given, the Net user may have been on to something. 

Until China's rule of law is strong enough to protect the country's would-be good Samaritans, to discourage people from forgoing their morals out of fear of undeserved retribution, indeed, a collective approach to developing a society of more selfless individuals is a step in the right direction - but then again, does it not still leave a bitter taste in the mouth, even if only slightly?

Doing the right thing, including helping a victim in need in spite of the potential risks involved, isn't always easy. But the quicker we man up as individuals, and not just as a group - safety net in place or not - the sooner we'll all stand to gain from society. 

The author is a copy editor with the Global Times. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

see above highlighted part unfortunately still a serious problem in China.. getting sued for helping accident victims.... What is wrong with the system???

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