Making sense of little Wang Yue’s death

Part of the decision to become a parent involves responsibly weighing whether the world is a place you want to bring children into. I’m generally an optimist, and I’ve always believed, to put it simply, that there is more good in the world than bad. That’s what my husband and I teach our kids.

Yet a recent event has absolutely made me question that faith—an event that the whole world is talking about, but we’ll address here too, if only because of the absence of awareness and compassion it reveals. Little Wang Yue (affectionately called “Yueyue” by her parents) has died. Almost a week ago, the two-year-old was callously run over by two different vehicles and ignored for an agonizing seven minutes by passersby (as many as 18, according to some reports) before someone stopped to help her.

She and her family have been on my mind all week. (Her name means “Little Joy” in Mandarin—this has stuck with me.) I won’t watch the video of the incident [which has been posted all over the web] but the description is horrific enough that I’ve been teary on several occasions just thinking about it. I have three young daughters, so the thought of anyone hurting them—especially on purpose—or no one helping them in a time of great need, in my absence, is my worst nightmare.

What has happened to our sense of community? I might have guessed that a couple or handful of people would have an iffy moral compass in any given crowd, but eighteen?

There is talk now in the Chinese province of Guangdong of making it law to help someone in distress. A lawyer at a Guangzhou-based Datong law firm, Zhu Yongping, has been quoted as saying, “If we can use laws to guide our morality and ethics, our morals might not become worse.” What a sad day, to have to make it law to care about someone else.

Yet I’m somewhat encouraged that millions of people from all over the world have since posted messages online, decrying the cruelty and apathy. For example, Chen Chunli wrote, “Poor Yueyue is gone, but she will always be there to force Chinese people to remember this disgrace that should have never been.”

Perhaps if there’s any good at all to come from such a horrible event, it will be that this is a serious wake-up call, not just for China, but everyone. For the fact remains: a baby has died, and an utter lack of awareness and compassion is the reason why.

That’s extreme, but it’s real. Nothing can bring Wang Yue back, unfortunately, but our awareness and compassion could go a long way in preventing such tragedies… and help us deal with the inconceivable when it occurs.

What do you think?