BEIJING, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- Lei Feng, the late Chinese icon of altruism, has provided the perfect answer to the questions on the meaning of life that have long puzzled the human race, according to an op-ed authored by Li Congjun, president of Xinhua News Agency.
"Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?"
These questions, raised by french Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), are widely considered to represent the human race's deepest meditations on the meaning of life.
According to the article, elite members of the human race, including Russian writer Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), the ancient Chinese poets Qu Yuan and Chen Zi'ang, who both wrote more than 1,000 years ago, asked similar questions, but never found the answer.
"Lei Feng, an ordinary soldier, has given a perfect answer," the lengthy article maintained.
"If you were a water drop, would you like to provide any moisture for the fields; If you were a ray of sunshine, would you like to light up a portion of the dark; If you were a grain of rice, would you like to feed a life?" the article posited, citing a diary of Lei's.
Born in late 1940 in central China's Hunan province, Lei was orphaned at the age of seven. He started working in a steel mill in 1958, and became an army recruit in 1960.
Known for devoting almost all of his spare time and money to selflessly helping the needy, Lei died from injuries sustained from being hit on the head by a pole while helping a fellow soldier direct a truck on Aug. 15, 1962.
A year later, late Chairman Mao Zedong called on the entire nation to follow Lei's example, and March 5 of every year is designated "Lei Feng's Day."
By devoting his limited life to the infinite cause of serving the people, Lei, an ordinary Chinese man, was able to turn a transient and normal life into an eternal and great one, the article noted, adding that Lei's spirit continues to appeal to the people.
Moreover, the article said that, inspired by Lei, many Chinese have embraced an inner pursuit of following his example, making them excellent, model figures in their particular fields.
As Chinese battle their way through a drastic social transition process, their government is promoting the lofty values characteristic of Lei Feng to give them hope.
In rapidly developing China, "how to curb the erosion of money worship, hedonism and extreme individualism, properly define their relations with others within a society, and seek the meaning of life, are increasingly severe challenges facing every individual," according to an article carried by the People's Daily newspaper Tuesday.