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Learning from Lei Feng still valuable 50 years on

(Global Times)

08:16, March 06, 2013

Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of former Chinese chairman Mao Zedong's call for the country to learn from Lei Feng, a young soldier known for his selfless devotion to help others who died at aged 21 in 1962. Reflecting on Lei's spirit today, half a century after his death, still has the power to arouse sentimental feelings among the public.

Lei's image came to the political and moral forefront at a time when China was undertaking great changes. The modest soldier's spirit remains one of the most enduring legacies of that era, its timeless vitality clear for all to see.

Lei has gradually become a universal role model as political overtones surrounding him fade. Those who object to glorifying Lei's spirit are intent on trampling morality for the sake of political point scoring, but their impact has been limited.

A poll conducted by the Global Times last year showed that most Chinese have a positive perception of Lei, with nearly 90 percent of respondents voicing disdain toward those skeptical of the good Samaritan soldier.

Lei's image can be traced back to the country's economic planning era.The public has gradually understood that particular time. Few can be picky about a young role model from 50 years ago.

"Learn from Lei Feng" is a mantra that remains widely recognized by people of all ages and backgrounds in today's society.

The spirit of Lei is obviously not as prominent as it was during past decades, but it is still part of China's moral fabric.

It's absurd to argue that Lei's spirit has been abandoned, even if times have changed dramatically.

Lei's spirit will naturally be updated over time. Moral resources improve as part of the internal driving force that has pushed development of China's civilization over the past 5,000 years. The government has been willing to provide such emphasis on morality, and the impacts of its efforts have been generally positive.

Lei still touches the hearts of people today. Such moral affection is worth treasuring in modern China, which has at times tried to discard its past. Some spirits, like Lei's, stand the test of time and provide society with a moral compass.

People occasionally compare citizen consciousness to Lei's spirit, which does no good to society. Citizen consciousness is the concept of social governance, while Lei's spirit is a moral signpost.

The popularity of Lei's spirit comes from people's willingness to appreciate and promote it.

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