May 28-June 3, 2012
Editorial: Let’s care for our land together
Translated by Lydia Ma
On May 10, 2012, two women (one a writer and the other the daughter of a writer) stood courageously in front of an excavator in an attempt to prevent a water diversion construction project from proceeding. This project was spearheaded by Central Taiwan Science Park and attracted a lot of controversy because it would divert agricultural-use water to industries. These women’s bravery reminds me of a poem written half a century ago about struggling farmers. The poem sought to comfort farmers at the time by telling them that fate was the cause of their troubles.
It’s been 50 years since this poem was written, yet the plight of farmers in Taiwan has not lessened despite the help of technological advancements. Quite the contrary, famers are increasingly victims in land or resource disputes. We have seen this time and time again when good farm lands were expropriated to make way for corporate buildings or industrial use, or when the Water Resources Agency ignored the needs of farmers to make a living and began selling water to industrial parks. These are merely a few examples of a Taiwanese society plagued by distorted values. They also compound the problem of an increasingly M-shaped society.
Taiwanese society slowly awakened in the 1980s and people began to demand democracy and freedoms because they were more open to other ideas. The PCT began to respond to social events and changes as early as the beginning of the 1970s under the influence of Rev. Shoki Coe, who placed great emphasis on the contextualization of theology. As result, PCT began to care about political, economic, and environmental issues.
Ironically, though Taiwan has undergone various free elections these past 30 years and free speech continues to be a basic human right, social injustices have increased in severity. A lot of social injustices today are structural injustices inflicted by governments and conglomerates in the name of “development” The Suhua Highway Improvement Project, the current water diversion project for the Central Taiwan Science Park, the Wenlin Yuan Urban Renewal Project, and the re-zoning and demolition of a Catholic Church in Nantun are merely a few recent examples of injustices caused by structure of our government. Under such such a structure the voice of the people seems to be more and more muffled in today’s “free” and “democratic” Taiwan.
Faced with this reality, the church is at a crossroads as well and must make a choice. Will we join with protesters, as the DPP has done, and organize a spectacular demonstration? Will we choose the easiest way out and ignore the cries of the people? Or will we strive to see reality as it is and continually reflect on how the teachings we’ve received from God apply to these current circumstances facing our nation? This is not an easy road and requires our time, our strength, and even our courage for it is not a safe road. However, this road will bear testimony to what we believe are core values for the PCT.
Will the plight of farmers and other marginalized groups be lessened by the support of Christians? Will our participation become a sign of hope for them? As long as we are willing to back our words with action, we can confidently pray and believe in God’s deliverance as the psalmists prayed: “We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.” (Psalms 44:25-26)