Zero tolerance is simply not realistic

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Global Times, June 28, 2011
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Chinese society has become less and less tolerant of any inequality or injustice. "Zero tolerance" has now become a buzzword.

Legally and ethically speaking, this attitude is justified, which is why it has spread online like wildfire.

When targeting social inequality or abuse of public power, public opinions show little mercy but use the strictest standards as scandals crop up one after another.

The awareness of civil rights, introduced to China as early as the May 4th Movement in 1919, has been taking root here, thanks to the variety of political thoughts on the Internet. Little by little, populism begins to prevail over everything else, standing tall atop the moral pyramid.

However, the material foundation needed to support these spiritual aspirations is still weak in China.

The booming economy has brought a better life for most Chinese people, but at the cost of an in-creasing wealth gap and growing corruption.

The country has been trying to deal with these problems, but with little success.

The idea of "zero tolerance" appears attractive, but does not fit with China's reality.

Sadly, social injustice does not simply disappear when faced with mounting waves of public criticism.

More active and practical interaction between tolerance and reality is needed.

Cyber-activism pushed open the door to freedom of speech and ushered in a ground-breaking age of public opinion being present at all levels of social life. However, social problems are not like computer viruses, which can be removed at the press of a button.

The public still needs to have some tolerance for some problems.

The Internet is a virtual space, but many still believe that what they see virtually can become reality overnight.

Samuel P. Huntington writes in his book Political Order in Changing Societies that the success of transformation from a traditional society to a modern one mainly depends on whether the society can keep a stable social order during the process.

The order depends on the institutionalization of all elements of society, but it also demands a certain degree of flexibility of some non-institutional elements. Rigid idealism usually fails.

The debate on China's future was usually limited within small circles in the past.

Now the Internet opens the debate to all of society, giving rise to grass-roots sentiments. As a result, there is a yawning gulf between social groups and social consciousness.

China's intellectual elite has a complex mission in the new era, by pushing forward cultural diversity and safeguarding the integrity of society at the same time.

The nation needs to have dreams, but cannot entangle itself with too many unrealistic goals.

Chinese intellectuals must hold onto the bottom line of being realistic. They can have different ideals, but they cannot deliberately twist reality.

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