Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Suicide and Honour

My wife raised a question yesterday.  It was triggered by the suicide of the Korean teacher who survived the tragic sinking of the ferry.  Apparently he felt responsible for the deaths of the hundreds of people who perished in the sinking, being the one who decided on the trip.  It seems that many Koreans and Japanese committed suicide, either because of the heavy burden of the sense of guilt, or as a way to show that they are willing to bear the responsibility after some major disaster.  

The actual question was: why do we not see the Chinese doing the same?  

The Korean, Japanese, and Chinese culture share a lot of similarities, emphasising a person’s role in and responsibility to society.  In Chinese history, there were indeed may stories of people committing suicide under such circumstances.  But we hardly hear of similar cases in mainland China in recent memory.  Why?

One possible explanation that has been broached is this: the Chinese Communists, through the Cultural Revolution and other related campaigns, have tried very hard to eradicate traditional culture, including person-to-person relationships, family, trust - and the sense of shame and honour.  Such opinion can be found in numerous web sites, such as the one above, and the following, both from Tianya (天涯社區).

I wonder whether there has been some studies on this.  If not, someone should.  For this is already having a major impact on Chinese society.  In the longer run, it may actually determine whether we (deserve to) survive as a society.  


CARFIELD said...

Thanks for sharing this

StephenC said...

You are welcome. What do you think?