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Talk of the day -- Group healing needed following metro killings

2014/05/25 18:41:12

Taiwan society remains in deep shock four days after a 21-year-old university student, who looks just like any normal youth, stabbed four passengers to death and wounded 24 others on a Taipei metro train May 21.

The families of the dead are embroiled in grief over losing their loved ones. The wife of 28-year-old Hsieh Ching-yun, who was killed in the stabbing spree, cried out "give me back my husband" when she recognized her husband's body in a hospital hours after the incident.

Two days later, Hsieh's wife, known by her surname of Chen, faced the press and said she had decided to "put away her hatred."

She said she gave up her anger because she did not want her two little children to grow up in pessimism and hatred.

"I'll teach my children to be good and optimistic forever," she said with tears filling her already red and puffy eyes from crying.

The following are excerpts of newspaper reports of how society is dealing with the aftermath of the killings, one of the most shocking incidents ever to take place in the popular Taipei metro system.

United Daily News:

Stanley Yen, chairman of the Alliance Cultural Foundation, a civic organization devoted to the promotion of the public interest, called for "group healing," which he described as the positive strength society needs right now.

People, no matter who they are, should put down their computers and leave the virtual world to make contact with real people and embrace them physically, Yen said.

In a speech titled "You are the Starting Point of Change" delivered in Taichung Saturday, Yen, a former successful hotelier, blamed Cheng Chieh's bloody violence on the killer's obsession with the online world.

Yen described virtual reality as a world "without governments, boundaries or teachers," in which young people can play war games and games of killing without restriction. Youths can easily develop deviant behavior if no one reminds them of the differences between the real and virtual worlds, he said.

No single individual, but rather schools, families and society should be blamed for the metro killings, Yen said, calling for all parents and teachers in the country to engage in self-reflection to see if they are showing children the correct life values and the right ways to learn.

While Cheng's parents have been blamed for the 21-year-old's actions, Chang Hui-chun, wife of Examination Yuan President John Kuan, pointed out that parents are not gods.

"The entire society should shoulder the responsibility of education," said Chang, whose only daughter committed suicide three years ago.

When a tragedy occurrs, people are used to blaming the parents, Chang said. "I was once a target of such blame," she added.

After the death of her daughter, she started to examine herself, and realized that "in the past, I only taught her (my daughter) how to pursue happiness, but never showed her how to face misfortune," Chang said.

Speaking of the Cheng case, Chang, a former middle school teacher, said that in the modern world, in which most children have access to computers or possess a smartphone, it is not easy for parents to control what their children browse online. (May 25, 2014)

China Times:

A pair of sisters surnamed Chang launched a "Free Hugs" campaign outside the Taipei metro's Taan Station Saturday in the hope of helping people rid themselves of anxiety, sorrow and anger incurred by the May 21 killing spree.

In two hours, over 100 pedestrians gave their support to the campaign by hugging each of the sisters and passers by.

The warm atmosphere of people showing care for others, however, did not expand to the service office of Taipei City Councilor Lin Kuo-chun, who released a statement of apology from the metro slayer's parents.

Lin said many angry people called his office, accusing him of supporting a murderer's parents. Someone even posted an altered version of Lin's profile photo on his Facebook page, making it look like a photo that would be used at his funeral. (May 25, 2014)

(By Elizabeth Hsu)