September 22, 2006

Extremism and Sacrifice

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have a student on campus who has not eaten in almost two weeks. He has been on hunger strike to fight for LGBT rights.

I think he's addressing the issue in a way that the neo-cons want and expect. They can ridicule his impulsivity and dramatics, demeaning both his personal crusade (as an attention seeker) and the umbrella cause, gay rights.

Before I continue, I want to make it abundantly clear that I think it is atrocious that we have gone this long without granting all American citizens the full extent of their rights and privileges.

Don't get me wrong, I think Correa is a nice guy, and his intentions are in the right place. I just hope he comes to his senses before he is seriously harmed. Catabolysis is probably gripping his system by now, breaking down lean muscle tissue instead of fat.

From the Merck Manual:

In adult volunteers who fasted for 30 to 40 days, weight loss was marked (25% of initial weight), metabolic rate decreased, and the rate and amount of tissue protein breakdown decreased by about 30%. In more prolonged starvation, weight loss may reach 50% in adults and possibly more in children. Loss of organ weight is greatest in the liver and intestine, moderate in the heart and kidneys, and least in the nervous system. Emaciation is most obvious in areas where prominent fat depots normally exist. Muscle mass shrinks and bones protrude. The skin becomes thin, dry, inelastic, pale, and cold. The hair is dry and sparse and falls out easily.

Most body systems are affected. Achlorhydria and diarrhea are common. Heart size and cardiac output are reduced; the pulse slows and blood pressure falls. Respiratory rate and vital capacity decrease. The main endocrine disturbance is gonadal atrophy with loss of libido in men and women and amenorrhea in women. Intellect remains clear, but apathy and irritability are common. The patient feels weak. Work capacity is diminished because of muscle destruction and, eventually, is worsened by cardiorespiratory failure. The anemia is usually mild, normochromic, and normocytic. Reduction in body temperature frequently contributes to death. In famine edema, serum proteins are usually normal, but loss of fat and muscle results in increased extracellular water, low tissue tension, and inelastic skin. Cell-mediated immunity is compromised, and wound healing is impaired.

As we noted before, metabolism's function in endotherms is to keep the body's temperature at a level where enzyme activity is maximized. On top of the lack of vitamins and nutrients, Correa's body temperature will slowly decrease over time, limiting the ability of chemical reactions to take place in his body. His systems are already without raw materials; within weeks, they will be robbed of adequate energy as well.

Correa is going about this in the wrong way. His extremism and "sacrifice" will only attract negative attention.

He could work through the system and through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), helping to organize protests and conventions, promoting education and tolerance through positive measures. This is the only way that the LGBT community will make strides in America.

Instead of destroying his body for what he believes, he should be taking measures to make sure he's around to keep fighting with all of his wit and intelligence, influencing people with thoughts and ideas, not threats and melodrama.

But such is the mentality of the young and the revolutionary. They are selfish (not selfless, as they would like to appear), impulsive and egocentric. In an unstable system, they have a usefulness in pushing that system beyond the control of itself; in a relatively stable society, like ours, it is a ego-feeding media parade more than anything else. Pull a stunt and the media will jump.

I did. I messaged him to set up an interview for the sake of campus news. So I can see where the journalist's intentions are good, but the end result is independent of intent, and becomes merely a vehicle for propaganda.

Ultimately, I wonder if he really knows what it means to die for an idea, for a cause. Is he prepared to leave this world at 19, never to know what changes his patience and determination could have made in society?

1 comment:

  1. I understand your point but I think there is something missing. When I was growing up being gay wos a much harder life than I have now. But my older gay peers fought many times risking their lives so that I can have the life I live today. Those men and woman were taking the fight to the streets and were true heros.

    Today my community doesn't have many heros left. We have groups like the Human Rights Campaign that only fight for white middle class gays. And they are not doing much of anything for them.

    This person is fighting. Maybe I don't agree with his method, but he is truely doing something. Misguided or not. This boy is a Hero and should be celebrated.