Op-Ed Contributors

Society losing its moral compass

By Qin Xiaoying (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-05-17 08:00
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Editor's note: The government should take concrete and timely measures to protect students and make determined efforts to address the underlying causes behind such tragedies.

On May 12, seven children and two adults were hacked to death, and at least 11 others were injured by a knife-wielding assailant in Shaanxi province. The murderer killed himself soon after the attack.

Five deadly attacks on schoolchildren have taken place in the space of just one month, shocking the nation.

The brutality of such attacks, particularly on defenseless children, has rightfully angered the populace.

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Yet, the root cause behind such tragedies needs to be reflected upon.

For years, many people, including quite a few local officials in charge of the safety of residents in their jurisdiction, believed faster economic growth and tougher laws would serve as a solution for all social ills.

Yet now, coming face to face with campuses stained by children's blood and witnessing guardians overwhelmed by sorrow, the time is near to wake up.

Depending entirely on "economic development" and "rule of law" cannot address acute social conflict and lead to the establishment of a harmonious and peaceful society.

In fact, the surge in assaults against children should be viewed as just the tip of the iceberg during this period of social upheaval.

We must first address squarely the deep-seated social conflicts thrown up by these manifest tragedies. Only then will it be possible to prevent such incidents from recurring.

So, what are these repressed social conditions?

First, societal ethics and its moral compass, essential to maintaining sound interpersonal relations, are collapsing.

"Respecting the old and loving the young", and "helping the poor and caring for the weak" have underpinned the nation's basic moral code.

The aged, children and women are without question vulnerable groups that need extra attention and care from society at large.

How these groups are respected and cared for is the true barometer of the level of social morality and progress achieved by any civilization.

What is truly unnerving is that these are the very groups that are becoming innocent victims of such wanton violence. The elderly are left without support; women are being sexually harassed, and children are being abducted.

These should be rare in civilized society, yet they are common every-day occurrences.

Second, the unfair distribution and widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor are factors upsetting the psychological well-being of society.

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