[FOUNTAIN]Five days without food, for the earth

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[FOUNTAIN]Five days without food, for the earth

When Koreans were poor and starving, having a bowl of rice used to be happiness itself. “Rice line” was an expression meaning a vocation, and “putting down the spoon” meant death. In other words, food was life and existence.
That’s why it took so long for Koreans to escape the control of the dictators, who deprived them of liberty and human rights, but fed them properly. Food has a great power over people who have known starvation.
Skipping a meal is a painful thing, but Gwon Sul-ryong, leader of the Peace Village in Daejeon, voluntarily fasts from time to time. Mr. Gwon has been promoting a global fast, which began yesterday and continues to Sunday. It was scheduled to coincide with Earth Day, which is tomorrow.
In an effort to revive our tired and ailing planet, Mr. Gwon is joining in the five-day fast to empty and purify participants’ bodies and souls. It is a way of advocating that we stop abusing the earth for our own pleasure, at least for a moment. “Just like the pleasure of eating, you will find pleasure in not eating,” he says.
Mr. Gwon suggests a vegetable enzyme program for first-time fasters, and for those who have to work. The regimen can be found at http://cafe.daum.net/kwonsay, along with recommended diets for immediately after the fast.
During the fasting period, the participants try not to use toilet paper or other disposable goods. Refraining from producing trash also helps the earth rejuvenate. It is also important to meditate, to control anger and mental turmoil. Emptying the body and soul and living as part of the ecosystem are the ultimate goals of this global fasting drive.
If you are considering participating in this fast for the sake of your own health, then you should reconsider. Mr. Gwon warns that losing weight should not be your goal here. The idea is to curb your greed. The fast is a diet of the soul for urbanites, who are worried about having a pot belly but are not ashamed of having a corpulent mind.
If you save some money by skipping several meals, there are many meaningful ways to put it to use. How about donating to the campaign to help starving children in North Korea? The poet Park No-hae is leading a drive to provide goats to children in Indonesia’s Aceh province who were orphaned in the tsunami. The devastating tsunami devastated the blessed land of Aceh, but the orphans can begin supporting themselves with a goat that costs about $50.
Earth Day is a day when we should live a life worthy of human beings. Eating less and sharing more is a good way to start.

by Chung Jae-suk

The writer is a deputy culture news editor for the JoongAng Ilbo.
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