Risks for good Samaritans

Updated: 2014-06-05 07:34

(China Daily)

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The tragedy in Zhaoyuan, Shandong province, where a 35-year-old woman was beaten to death by six members of a religious cult on May 28, aroused hot debate online, with some people harshly criticizing the customers and members of staff in the fast food restaurant where the attack took place for not stepping in to help the woman.

Such criticism is unfair because this would have put these people's lives at risk as well, says a People's Daily column.

Faced with six deadly attackers, the people in the Zhaoyuan restaurant made the right choice by not physically intervening and instead calling the police. Still braver is the female manager of the McDonald's where the killing took place, who tried twice to halt violence. These people, especially the manager, deserve praise not blame, as the video of the incident released by the police shows the customers in the restaurant being threatened with violence if they attempt to help the woman.

Actually there are many good Samaritans in China that offer helping hands to those in need, and many put their lives at risk. Three days after the tragedy in Zhaoyuan, a student seized a knife from somebody boarding a bus in Yichun, Jiangxi province. The student was injured and sent to hospital.

Of course, there are also examples of people who didn't go to the aid of those in need. But we should not forget that brave deeds involve risk, and sometimes the helper might pay with his or her health or even life. It is unfair to put the people on the scene on moral trial without considering the price they might end up paying.

In the debate over the Zhaoyuan tragedy, some people who rushed to blame those in the restaurant but might recoil in real life, have been labelled "keyboard heroes"'. Such "keyboard heroism" is hypocritical.

On the other hand, there are also reports about Samaritans getting injured and having to spend the rest of their lives in difficulties because there is no compensation for them.

To encourage good Samaritans to emerge, it is necessary for society to improve its social security system and introduce rewards, so that people will not fall into trouble after helping others.