Dr. Guillermo Fariñas Hernandez, a Cuban, is at day fifty-seven in a hunger strike. His goal: To gain unfettered access to the Internet for all Cubans. The Cuban government, like the equally reprehensible regime in China, restricts their citizens' access to the worldwide web, fearful as Havana is of the free interchange of ideas.
Hernandez's cause is certainly a noble one. But frankly, I think that his tactic is ill-advised. People who deliberately starve themselves to death in hunger strikes have never impressed me.
Though the stakes are much higher when one refuses to eat, such strikes are, to me, the moral equivalent of a five year old holding his breath until he gets his way.
Were it not for the fact that, barring a medical intervention, hunger strikers would die, I've always been tempted to say that the appropriate response to this ploy is the same one parents should give to petulant children when they refuse to breathe: Ignore them.
From a Biblical perspective, it should be said, our bodies are precious gifts from God. Starving one's self is an act of contempt toward one's creator.
But the value of the gift of our bodies is compounded for Christians. Paul asks in First Corinthians 6:19: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?"
I confess that I don't take adequate care of my body. I should exercise more. I should eat less and eat more healthfully. But there is no cause so great as to incite me to deliberately abuse God's gift by starving myself to death. God will never call someone to commit suicide, irrespective of how noble their cause.
So, while some seem to be rallying around Dr. Hernandez, I can only lament what I consider to be an unwise course of action and pray that he will finally have a bite to eat.
(For more, see here, here, here, and here.)
UPDATE: Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice has linked to this post. Thank you, Joe!