Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spiritual versus human compassion

Recently the sudden death of Chinese dissident  Li Wangyang (李旺陽) stirred up the compassion of the citizens of Hong Kong, the most recent opinion poll by the University of Hong Kong echoed a lowest (some 40+%) mistrust rating towards the Central Government.  And people are expecting a high turnout in this year's coming July 1 annual rally.  This is human compassion.

In our secular society, most spiritual groups (major Christian groups excepted) tend to remain silent on human compassion that might have "political repercussions", principally from the Central Government.  It is understandable in the sense that this selective reluctance to express certain human compassion can help to gain better support towards their spiritual activities.  For example, the central government's recent support of exhibiting the Buddha's bones in Hong Kong being a highly successful event for the local Buddhist groups.  As in all human affairs, everything has a trade-off, and in this case a trade off between a propagation of spiritual compassion and a propagation of human compassion. 

The following is a journalist trade-off on the incident, as reported in yesterday's Asia Sentinel:

So why was Li Wangyang’s suicide not news – at first?

A decision by the South China Morning Post’s new editor in chief, Wang Xiangwei, to reduce a major breaking story on the suspicious death of Tiananmen dissident Li Wangyang in a Hunan hospital to a brief has kicked off a new controversy at the paper.

Alex Price, a senior sub editor at the paper, sent Wang an email saying “A lot of people are wondering why we nibbed the Li Wangyang story last night. It does seem rather odd. Any chance you can shed some light on the matter?”

Wang answered curtly: “I made that decision.” When Price asked in a subsequent email: “Any chance you say why? It’s just that to the outside world it looks an awful lot like self-censorship,” it generated an explosion from Wang.

“I don’t have to explain to you anything. I made the decision and I stand by it. If you don’t like it, you know what to do.”

“Li Wangyang, a good man died for his cause and we turned it from a story into a brief. The rest of Hong Kong splashed on it,” Price responded. “Your staff are understandably concerned by this. News is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations. Please explain the decision to reduce the suspicious death of Li Wangyang to a brief. I need to be able to explain it to my friends who are asking why we did it. I'm sorry but your reply of "it is my decision, if you don't like it you know what to do" is not enough in such a situation. Frankly it seems to be saying "shut up or go."

(the full sentinel article is HERE).

Li HuangYang and human compassion


  1. Feet on the ground is no proof of foul play. Partial suspension hanging is actually quite common, especially in institutional settings:


    “by means of partial suspension or partial weight-bearing on the ligature. This method has been most often used in prisons or other institutions, where full suspension support is difficult to devise.”

  2. 1. Li died in suspicious circumstances, beyond reasonable doubt.

    2. Hong Kong people were saddened by the news and felt compassionate towards Li's death, beyond all doubt.


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