Compassion lacking in HK public urination clash

By Ember Swift
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 29, 2014
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In the West, it's not uncommon to see people stopped on the side of the road to "squat" or hide behind a tree. We can all relate to hearing the call of nature at an inconvenient time. Passers-by understand. It's never ideal, but it's the best possible solution in an already difficult situation.

Furthermore, we let our domesticated animals relieve themselves outdoors and consider it normal, even on the city streets, but when humans are stuck in similar situations we condemn them. They are called "uncivilized" and thus judged morally. Are these people no better than animals? The harshest comments suggested not.

Compassion lies in mutual understanding. The parents were trying their best to make a bad situation better. The Hong Kong residents who protested the behavior were trying their best to maintain a standard of sanitation that is hard to maintain at the best of times in such a densely populated environment. Both parties weren't wrong, neither was right.

If everyone stopped for a moment to watch the child in this experience and make him -- the symbol of our future -- central to determining their responses, fires could have been cooled much more quickly, violence stemmed, and the police would never have needed to be called. In the end, the couple was charged on suspicion of theft relating to the camera and camera card when everyone knows that this is just a secondary excuse to press charges and make the situation a personal one between the players. The truth is that it's not personal; this is a long-term societal animosity that was simply being played out in a real-time scenario.

So where does this leave us in the future? The baby has learned that fighting is what adults do. He's learned that attacking each other both verbally and physically is appropriate behavior. And, what's more, he's learned that his need to urinate is punishable. The next time that child needs to go to the bathroom, one can guarantee he'll wet his pants before telling his parents about it. Those same parents displayed behavior with strangers that clearly frightened him and that is the most unfortunate result of this whole story.

We must advocate keeping the adults of our future as free from the influence of our past mistakes as is humanly possible. This can only happen if we allow compassion to guide our responses. Otherwise, we'll consistently misunderstand one another, creating longer and longer queues that stand between historical tensions and the ultimate relief that peace provides.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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