Jason Loose, a 23 year old American living in China recently became an Internet sensation in China, after photos of his act of kindness went viral. It’s estimated there’s over 150,000 posts about him on China’s microblogging sites.
Loose was photographed (unknowingly) sharing his french fries and bottled water with an older female Chinese beggar in early May. On China’s blogging sites, he has been given the name the “French Fry Brother,” and his altruistic deed seems to have started many discussions and debates on morality amongst Chinese netizens.
Most of the news articles coming out about this act of kindness, compare it with the viral video last year of the two year old girl who was run over by a truck in China, and she did not receive assistance until the 19th person to walk by finally stopped to take notice. Little Yue Yue as she was later dubbed, did not survive her injuries. The main topic of course is about the apathy of the Chinese people, when it comes to matters of morality and charity.
Loose, on the other hand was mostly oblivious to the attention he received and didn’t consider his action heroic, as some have labeled him. When asked about his conversation with the 80 year old grandmother, who was begging as she had no support from her family, he said he did ask about her favorite food, and her response was “Not french fries”. Perhaps ironic, as some of the rare criticism leveled against Loose was with regard to the choice of food, which his critics considered less than healthy.
Altruism and charity is a tough topic in China, and yes even in the U.S. Many bloggers wrote about how difficult it is to know whether they are being scammed, as many beggars in China are not really beggars, but scammers. It’s a common refrain, people claiming that’s why they avoid giving to beggars in the street.
Loose’s story is of course not without controversy, as some writers wonder why it takes a foreigner’s act of kindness to point out the lack of morality in the Chinese populace. Personally, I think it’s irrelevant whether it’s a foreigner or a Chinese person to make us stop and think about the plight of others. The goal should be to make us aware, and hopefully make us take action.
When stories like this one about Jason Loose come into our lives, it makes us reflect on whether we’ve been charitable enough, and if we ourselves have done enough for those less fortunate in the world.
It certainly made me reflect again on whether I’ve done enough for my fellow man, and made me feel inadequate, when thinking about my role model in this respect, my late mother. My mom was the most kind and generous person I’ve known in my life. She used to give us (as kids) money regularly to drop in bowls and cups for beggars in the street and I remember her writing checks to charity after charity, even when she really didn’t have the money to do it. She had the kindest heart of anyone, and when I think about what I’ve been able to do for others, I can only feel like I’ve paled in comparison.
Like many others, I’ve passed by plenty of beggars in the street, telling myself, when I get home I’ll write a check to the local food bank instead. It’s easier to distance ourselves, than to sit down next to someone and offer to buy them a meal. If Jason Loose, can take time out of his day and offer half his meal to someone in need, then anyone should be able to, and that’s the real point of this story.