The News From Out There


I pick up the newspapers on the planes headed to SE Asia. I am always interested in what the rest of the world consider newsworthy. Looking at the world from other people’s viewpoints is always great.

South Korea, for example, is always obsessed with their northern neighbor. One of the stories I read had to do with the North Koreans planting some viruses in some video games inside Seoul Incheon Airport. We in the U.S. perhaps have the luxury of going to bed without ever thinking whether we might be hit with an atomic bomb while we sleep, not so with people who live in South Korea, so they have to be ever so diligent, even with innocent cyber games at their main airport.

From Thailand comes a story that is a sign of the times. Over the last two decades the percentage of young people working as farmers, specifically rice farming, has declined steadily. This worries some people because rice is one of the main exports of this country.

According to the article, young people prefer moving into the big population centers like Bangkok, and they definitely would rather find a job that keeps them indoors, away from the sun (this is a culture that shuns darkened skin, to judge from all the commercials on T.V. lauding the powers of skin whitening products and all the fair skinned models exhibited on their big billboards), and they will do everything they can to avoid the back breaking job their parents and grandparents had to do to make a living. Plus, in this country, as opposed to Europe and the U.S., for example, farmers are seen as poor, dirty and stupid. Who wants to sign up for that?

One thirty eight year old farmer in a small village, the oldest farmer in his entire village, lamented the disinterest on the part of the young people. He said, “It seems like the only thing they can do with their hands is hold a cell phone.” I don’t know why but I find that comment very funny. But there is a business opportunity here too — start opening those carpel tunnel surgery clinics! Video games and cell phones may not kill you, but they might disable you.

So I am soon headed to Cambodia to deal with some tough assignments related to our G.R.O.W. home there. If you think of me and are able to pray, I would appreciate it.

Perhaps the mechanization of farming will save the jasmine rice of Thailand. And teenagers will once again line up to be high-tech farmers — one hand on the computer and the other on the video games they love so much.

Ivanildo C. Trindade

 

 

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