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One question to judge your worth?

(China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-20 14:23
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One question to judge your worth?

Dating show star An Tian jumped to conclusions when he tested women's motives

After the uproar that followed Ma Nuo's outrageous claim that she would rather "cry in a BMW than laugh on the backseat of a bicycle", popular dating show If You Are the One made headlines again recently - this time for producing someone who arguably summed up the exact opposite sentiment.

An Tian, an American-born Chinese, was almost ready to pick one of the last two female contestants when he posed his final question: "What would you do if you won $10 million in the lottery?"

"I want to take my mother and go traveling; have her quit her job," said one of the women, while the other replied: "I won't change anything. I'd go on with my life as it is."

On hearing the responses, An frowned and - seemingly to everyone's surprise - decided to leave the stage alone. Apparently, both answers were not good enough for him.

On his departure, he revealed the answer he was looking for was to use the money to set up a charitable fund.

Having completed bachelor's and master's degrees at Harvard in the United States and Oxford in Britain, and now working toward a PhD at Berkeley in California,

An's glittering academic background lends weight to his heartfelt comment, which resulted in many people raving about his noble ideology.

It's true that in the market economy, everyone is caught up with pursuing selfish interests. With increasing living costs and peer pressure, we're pretty much kept on our toes these days and don't have much time to even think about doing things for other people. So, in that way, it's commendable for An to remind us of this often-forgotten moral sensibility.

However, can one question really be enough to judge whether a person possess morality or is just self-centered?

Frankly, I seriously doubt many people would have come up with the answer he wanted to hear, even if they had the instinct to help people at the back of their minds. No; An's question didn't do those two contestants justice at all.

First, he jumped to conclusions, which his education should have prevented him from doing. There were myriad viable answers to his open question, so why was his the one and only standard answer?

From what I saw, the women's answers were good, with one showing that they thought of their parents, while the other showed she would not lose her principles even after a hypothetically windfall.

Second, he asked the wrong people. It's undeniable that having wealth allows someone to contribute more to the community, but if you asked rags-to-riches entrepreneurs who later devoted themselves to philanthropic causes what they would have done with a sudden windfall when they were poor, would you have blamed them for wanting to use the money to start a business? After all, they give something back to the society in the end.

So An's assumption that these women do not want to serve the people is wrong. It would have been simpler if he'd just asked them straight whether the women - being prospective girlfriends, of course - would be supportive of his noble deeds.

Adam Smith's long-proven theory that people acting in their own interests can advance the interests of society illustrates that we can all do our little part to help people - even without us knowing it. For most ordinary citizens, just doing our best at what we do, conforming to law, fighting inequity and crime, and giving up seats for the elderly and sick, can be our way of serving the people.

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