Debate: Seeking a partner

Updated: 2010-07-05 08:00

(China Daily)

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A seek-a-partner program has drawn widespread flak, with many people saying it is nothing but a farce aimed at making money and belittling the image of women. Can such programs intensify money-worship in society?

Zhang Tianpan

Rich must fulfill responsibility

A local website has been in the news for organizing a special seek-a-partner program for 18 millionaire bachelors, who would select their partners from the thousands of woman participants from across China and abroad.

The program, for justified reasons, has drawn widespread flak, with many people saying it is nothing but a farce aimed at making money and belittling the image of women. Some have even expressed fear that such programs could intensify money-worship in society.

The past few months have seen the popularity graphs of several such programs rise, with some woman participants passing absurd remarks. The most famous of such quotations: "I'd rather shed tears in a BMW than smile while riding a bicycle." Many people believe such remarks only belittle the dignity of human beings and could force people to believe in the futility of life without tons of money.

But people, especially the critics, seem to have misunderstood basic social facts: It is not the remarks of the women that have made (or will make) people worship money. On the contrary, they have only revealed the existence of money worship in society. Hence, efforts to stop women (or millionaire bachelors) from passing such remarks will not prevent more people from falling into the money-worship trap.

It is important to criticize money worship, but it is more important to find the root of the problem in order to solve it. We should realize that it is the power of money that attracts so many worshippers. So as long as money is not made to shed its aura of omnipotence, worshippers will keep flocking to it.

The general trend among people seems to be "hate the wealthy, but admire their wealth". This puts a great responsibility on the wealthy. We are too familiar with reports of the growing divide between the rich and the poor, and the developments and incidents that widen that. Perhaps the most typical of such incidents are luxury cars driven by rich brats knocking down and killing pedestrians. To a certain extent, such incidents have strengthened ordinary people's belief that the wealthy are evil.

And instead of solving this somewhat dangerous problem, the millionaires on the TV and Internet shows have only aggravated it. Thus, the heavy criticism that such programs have drawn are well within expectation.

Whether we are willing to accept it or not, society is governed by elites. According to sociologist Vilfredo F.D. Pareto, elites refer to the most excellent individuals in society, including those who have great achievements in fields such as culture, politics and commerce. Many of the wealthy people belong to this group. In any society, the public always has a higher expectation from elites than from ordinary individuals. Therefore, if the elites are obsessed with their luxurious private lives and forget their social responsibility, the public will certainly be disappointed and angry.

Therefore, I think the best way for the elites to show how rich they are is not to flaunt their money to seek beautiful women as partners but to invest their money in activities for the benefit of society. The wealthy need to take up more social responsibility as a special group. Only through such genuine efforts can the rich help society not to worship wealth and hate the wealthy.

The author is a commentator for Huashang Morning News, where this article was first published.

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