An 11th grader breaks a mirror, and holds one up

November, 23/2016 - 10:11

That a simple act of honesty by an eleven grader from Hải Phòng city has garnered so much praise and attention is a reflection of what our society has become over the last few decades.

"I crashed into the mirror by accident. I am sorry. Please phone me at (telephone number). Please tell me who the owner is. I will compensate." — Photo:
Viet Nam News

By Mai Hiên

There was no one around when an eleventh grader from Hải Phòng City riding his bike accidentally broke the mirror of a car parked on the street.

After waiting for sometime for the owner to appear, Nguyễn Thế T. left a piece of paper on the car, apologising for the damage. The paper also had the boy’s phone number for the car owner to contact.

The boy’s action has since been praised by netizens and car owners.

“I feel happy. Other vehicles have hit my car many times, but this is the first time I have received an apology,” Nguyễn Hữu Chung, the car owner, tells

That a simple act of honesty has garnered so much praise and attention is a reflection of what our society has become over the last few decades.

“In today’s society many adults make mistakes but do not dare to admit it. They even blame it on others. This is a brave action, demonstrating that the boy is well-brought up,” says Nguyễn Thu Minh, a mother of two.

Trần Thành Nam, who teaches at the Hà Nội National University, says although “everyone knows we should apologise after making a mistake, not many people do so.”

Much has to be done to improve the effectiveness of life skills taught at schools, he says.

Several people who praised the boy say they had witnessed drivers fleeing the scene after a traffic accident.

Early this month, a video recording a collision between a car (Innova) and a motorcycle was shared on the Internet. The driver of the motorcycle fell on the road and was hit again by another motorcycle running in the same direction. The car fled from the scene without stopping.

Furious netizens joined hands and identified the driver in two days. The driver offered the excuse that he didn’t stop because he was in a hurry, taking his brother to the airport!

Another incident happened last week that highlighted not just the irresponsibility, but the arrogance of some citizens. A young girl was punched on her face for not giving way to a car while riding an electric bicycle on Tây Sơn Street. The girl said she was about to turn left so she could not give way despite it showing the signal.

“Even if the girl was riding on the wrong lane, it is unacceptable for a man to hit a woman,” says Nguyễn Văn Thanh, a Hanoian.

The driver should have advised the girl to follow traffic regulations instead of beating her, he says.

Trịnh Hòa Bình, a sociologist, says tolerance has been the nature of Vietnamese people, but globalisation has affected the lives of individuals, families and the society in general.

People have apparently become more selfish and apathetic about what’s going on in the society.

“We can see the difference in the civilised manner in which the eleventh grader acted, and the drivers who acted in their own interests even after hurting other people,” he says.

Everyone deserves to be respected by others irrespective of their positions in society, this is what being civilised is all about.

It’s not easy to teach someone how to behave in the right manner, and as the Vietnamese idiom goes: “Gieo gió gặp bão” or “You reap what you sow”. You give disrespect, and disrespect and worse is what awaits you.

To promote honesty and good deeds, Binh says, it is necessary to have a profusion of good examples.

Through social networks like Facebook, blood donation campaigns and other similar actions can be launched, fostering the feeling of caring for others, and increasing the good feeling that goes with doing good.

In addition to teaching good manners at schools, adults, including parents, should set a good example for young children to follow.

It is good that an eleventh grader, through his actions, has held up a mirror to all of us.

It is important that society as a whole re-learns a very simple, profound lesson: Acknowledging a mistake and being willing to atone for it is how we can show respect for others, and be respected as well. Otherwise, can we respect ourselves when we look into the mirror? — VNS