Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 07:59
Behave decently
By China Daily

If it does inspire a collective sense of shame at home that a Chinese teenager etched his name on a stone carving at the Luxor Temple in Egypt, we need to have enough courage to face the truth that there is indeed much to be desired when it comes to our compatriots' behavior and decorum, both at home and abroad.  

The teenager from Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, was reported to have cried in remorse after his wrongdoing caused a sensation and his parents have publicly apologized for what their son did. The public scorn should be a severe enough lesson for him. But his parents are also to blame for his action.  

It is inappropriate for some Chinese to consider it a shame only because it took place on foreign soil. All those who have used the Internet to identify the boy should take a good look at themselves and see if they are responsible for any uncivilized or indecent behavior.  

Have they ever jaywalked or run a red light when driving? Have they spat or thrown litter on the street? Have they cleared up after their dogs when taking them for a walk? Have they used a cellphone at the top of their voices in a public venue?  

Chinese people have long considered propriety as the most fundamental means of maintaining social order and harmonious relations between strangers. So how is it Chinese tourists are viewed as among the most uncivilized in some countries?  

If the government fails to attach enough importance to this question and individuals fail to regulate their behavior, we as a nation should feel ashamed when bragging about the glory of the civilization our ancestors created.  

Propriety and civic behavior are developed from childhood. That many of us do not have the awareness of how to behave in a decent manner speaks volumes for the failure of parents and teachers.  

What we need to do right now is not just point accusing fingers at that boy, but rather for as many people as possible to mind their behavior in public, and for the government to highlight education of a civic code of conduct.