The Way of Teacher Fan and Ethics in the Ministry of Education
Posted on June 16, 2008
The difficulty in doing good is that often the principles of kindness seem either too simple or too broad in range. However, true goodness is concrete.
In the pre-takeoff emergency procedures on planes, we are told that in the event of an emergency, we should first look after ourselves, and put on our own oxygen mask before we help children and the elderly. This is common sense. I do not believe that any powerless individual, political party, or nation could possibly provide genuine and reliable help to others. All ethical and moral foundations originate in the relationship between the life of the individual, his or her will, and nature. In this relationship, the self is always first; even if we are making personal sacrifices, they also stem from personal choice. This is why the broadly moralistic idea that we should separate the value of our personal life from our personal will is as irresponsible as it is hypocritical.
Fan Meizhong cherishes life and loves teaching, and he dared to tell the truth. Suppose we say that Fan Meizhong has questionable ethics. This is like saying that the lives of certain people are unimportant, or that there are conditions to the ways we preserve life. But this is contrary to the idea that all life enjoys equal status and no one should be discriminated against when confronted with the choice to honor life. What’s more, a teacher protecting his own life could also be seen as protecting a precious national treasure; if he can’t be commended, at the very least he doesn’t deserve such harsh criticism. The Ministry of Education holds jurisdiction over an area where hundreds of schools have collapsed, and the whole world has been shocked by the death of thousands of students, yet its own corruption and neglect of obligation are handled calmly, as if nothing happened. However, we refuse to pardon the lack of “ethical responsibility” of a middle school teacher who, in a panic, ran for his dear life. This is truly a joke with socialist characteristics.
TRANSLATED BY LEE AMBROZY
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY MIT PRESS, 2011