Coming to terms with being human.



I was raised in a farming community in Illinois. Though not from a farming family, I came to understand the life that farmers live, mainly through my friends. Farming is tough: the work is difficult, the days are really long, and the price of beans is beans.
Family farms are disappearing. The cost of running a farm is insane, so only major corporations are making steady profits. All this is just to say that I feel for farmers.
A Korean farmer killed himself in protest yesterday. He was at the WTO meeting in Cancun along with thousands of other people. If you haven’t been following the WTO meetings, they are the biggest protest sites on the planet right now. Fire bombing, sign raising, mimes… you get it all at a WTO meeting.
So this Korean man, a veteran protester, is upset that countries like the United States are making it impossible for poor rural farmers to survive. The U.S. seems to think that providing t-shirt sweatshops for their children to work at should be enough. Lee Kyung Hae, while holding a sign that said, “WTO Kills Farmers,” stabbed himself in the chest, taking his own life.
I am not in favor of suicide, especially in protest. I do wonder why I live in a world that drives a man to these measures. I also wonder how a person could care that much about a cause. Kierkegaard asked for a reason to live or die. What possible cause could be that important to him? He looked around, tasted the philosophies of his day, and found them wanting.
I am much more a Kierkegaard than a Hae. What separates me from this farmer? Are we so different, or is my life, like Soren’s, so pampered that I have no real cause. Would a life of dirt and hunger change me?


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