By Zihui Ni, Franklin & Marshall College

Blood was everywhere. A headless corpse lied in the middle of the street. The head of the dead was thrown in the trash bin. What happened in Wuchang, China on February 18th was shocking and alarming.

Ironically, this cruel murder happened because of only 50 cents. The victim, Mr. Yao, was the owner of a small restaurant. Around 12 pm yesterday, three young adults went to Yao’s restaurant for lunch. When they checked out, Yao asked for extra 50 cents. One of the customers, Wu, questioned about the extra charge. Instead of explaining the reason, Yao said, “I am the boss of this restaurant. Leave if you cannot afford it”. It was these two short sentences that caused the tragedy. The irritated murderer Wu rushed into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and stabbed Yao. After Yao died, Wu chopped Yao’s head off and threw it into the trash bin.

In this tragic event, both the murder scene and the means of killing were terrifying. However, there were no grudge or feud between these two people. Actually, they did not even know each other an hour before the murder. Nothing would happen if either of them made a concession.

People like Wu who commit such a cruel crime would usually be regarded as evil. However, when talking about evil, people would normally think of someone with great power and totally inhumane. It seems that people would pay no attention to ordinary people like Wu. Yet, Wu proved that evils are ordinary. What frightens people is exactly that he is not special at all. Wu could be someone passes by us on the street or someone who takes the same subway with us. There are no clear-cut lines between good people and evil people. Actually, people are both good and evil. We all have the potential to conduct evil acts under extreme situations. Given a proper circumstance and a weapon, anyone is capable of committing a crime of passion.

In this case, the victim Yao did something wrong as well. His impoliteness and disrespect to Wu, to some extent, caused his own death. Although he could choose to say what he want to say, he also had to hold responsibility for his words and take the risk of irritating others and being hurt. When facing crimes, it is reasonable for people to express their sympathy to victims and show anger to criminals. At the same time, it is also important to think about what we could do to prevent these tragedies from happening again. In many cases, victims could probably avoid the tragedy by changing their ways of acting and speaking. I need to clarify that what the potential victims do to protect themselves from being hurt are irrelevant to the penalties imposed on the criminals. In other words, criminals are fully responsible for their actions and they would be punished by the law and justice. Potential victims, on the other hand, should think about what they could do to protect themselves. In Yao’s case, it is undeniable Wu is a bloodless and irritable person. However, Yao could avoid this tragedy by patiently explaining the reason why the extra money was charged. People have the right to do what they want to do and there is nothing wrong with it. The problem is we live in an imperfect world. We cannot eliminate crimes; what we could do is to change our own behaviors for our own sake.

Each of us is potentially a passionate murderer or a victim of the crime. Taking several seconds to think before doing something is a sign of weakness, but taking responsibility for ourselves and others. Being polite and cautious is not giving up characters, but protecting ourselves from potential dangers.