By Yang Laidi I’m Yang Laidi, sixty-two years old this year. In 1985, because my husband had health problems, our […]
Stepping Onto the Right Path of Life
Since childhood, I had been influenced by the socially circulated viewpoints of “Making money is the absolute principle” and “No pain, no gain.” I thought that as long as I worked hard and made a fortune, I would gain status in society, and would live a life with dignity and integrity. Under the rule of this view, I had persistently been striving hard for money and fame. Furthermore, I was competitive by nature and hated to lose in whatever I did. So, along my life’s journey, I indeed suffered a lot.
When I got married, my family was in a poor financial situation, and it went even heavily indebted after the births of my two sons. However, this didn’t discourage me. Instead, I discussed hopefully with my husband how to make money. In the beginning, we found that breeding the seedlings of sweet potatoes was a profitable business, so we bought books and materials to study that, and tried to breed the seedlings with scientific technology. Several years later, we did earn some money, but hard labor left me with many illnesses. Even so, in order to be someone of importance and to change my home for the better, I, who was born ambitious, didn’t back off. When we noticed some people around us became rich by raising pigs, we immediately followed. We bought diverse materials on pig farming, and began to learn scientific methods of it. After the first piglets were purchased, we carefully produced the feed, observed and fed them, and did the cleaning, completely as the materials instructed. I put all my energy into raising pigs, and became a pig breeder through and through. Another several years passed. I found that despite my painstaking care and efforts, our pigs were always not so fattened up as others’ at the time of sale. Besides, the market was down. So for those years, we made little money and were barely able to make ends meet. Thus I gradually felt that pig farming was not a lucrative investment. Yet people of the same trade with me built their houses, ate and dressed well, and enjoyed abundant material comforts. This bothered me immensely: We all raise pigs, but why are my pigs always thinner than theirs? We are faced with the same market condition, but why did they all make a profit except for me?
Once, I went to a store to buy feed for my pigs nearly ready for sale. There, I met one of my peers. We bought the last batch of piglets together, and his practice later resolved my puzzlement and showed me the trick of the trade. The growth of pigs can be divided into three stages: the first, middle, and last stage, each of which goes with corresponding feed. And there is a big difference between the toxic residues of pig feeds in the first and last stage. In accordance with the rules, pigs in the last growing stage shall never be fed with the first stage feed, lest the toxic substances contained in it be absorbed by human bodies. At that time, according to the growth time and maturity of that batch of pigs, they should be fed with the last stage feed. However, my peer said to the seller, “I’d like the first stage pig feed.” This bewildered me, and I hurriedly said to him, “No, no. Your pigs need the last stage feed now. You had it wrong.” Hearing my words, my peer gave me a smile and said, “You look smart, but why are you so naive? Pigs fed with the first stage feed grow fatter. So we all use the first stage feed. It’s something known to every pig breeder. Only if fed with the first stage feed will pigs grow fast, and we can thus make more money. Making Money is the absolute principle.” His words brought me to my senses: It’s no wonder that they always make more money than me, though we all raise pigs. So the trick lies here. However, the first stage feed contains lots of drugs. If the pigs nearly ready for sale are fed with that, won’t the drug residues remain within the meat? If such meat is put on the market, won’t it be harming people’s health? This is doing evil. How dare they do that? But I then thought, “They have made such a good profit that way. How come I didn’t know the trick before? If I continue with my own way, I will earn much less than them….” “Hey, which kind of feed do you want?” Just when I was struggling in mind, the seller cried out at me, which interrupted my musings. Looking at the first stage feed in my peer’s van, I felt uneasy. Nonetheless, when I thought of how my peers had made handsome profits whereas I didn’t earn much money despite my assiduous efforts over these years, just acting as a foil in the trade, I was somewhat unwilling to reconcile myself to that. They can do such things; why must I be that rigid? After the hesitation, I replied to the seller, “I want the first stage feed.” Just like this, I crossed the moral baseline for the first time.
Although I carried the first stage feed back home, I still felt disturbed and afraid inwardly. Every time I fed the pigs, a feeling of reproach would well up in my heart, and I felt as if I was harming others and that my practice was really immoral. But when I saw the fast growing pigs, my uneasiness within turned to happiness. Soon, the pigs became fully grown and were ready for sale. This time it turned out as I wished. The profit was really a lot higher than before. As such, I was even more certain of the law for survival “Making money is the absolute principle.” I followed the hidden rule of this market, no longer fed pigs with the last stage feed, and thereby became a black-hearted pig farmer. At that point, money lessened the guilt and uneasiness in my conscience.
One year, the market prices of pork were quite good, so I raised more than twenty piglets in attempt to make a big profit that year. Just when the pigs were thriving, a plague struck. It was so fierce, and I was caught totally off guard. Within a few days, several pigs died one after another, and some others looked ill. In the face of the dead pigs and the other sick ones, I felt scared, fearing that I might lose both capital and interest this time. I was extremely distressed, and couldn’t help but look to the sky and sigh deeply, “Heavens! Why is this so? I’ve raised pigs for years, and there’re seldom good market prices like this year’s. Why do my pigs suffer from such severe illness? Why am I so unfortunate? Why is my life so difficult?” In helplessness, I could do nothing but get rid of the dead pigs. At that time, I was already depressed and deflated, without any strength at all, and could by no means cheer up. A peer learned of my situation and then introduced to me a man who specially bought dead and sick pigs. When that man came, however, he gave a very low price for each pig. Anyway, that was better than those pigs dying for nothing. So I sold all the sick pigs to him. When I asked what those sick pigs were meant for, he only gave me an ambiguous answer. With that, I had a bad feeing and wanted to figure it out all along. So, later I asked my peer the same question, and he told me, “Those pigs will be made into minced meat, and it will then be sold to those who are in the business of Rougamo and meat stuffing.” The news was a hard blow to me indeed. Isn’t that harming people blatantly? The pigs have been so seriously ill. Can their meat be edible? For that little bit of money, how many people will be harmed? Isn’t it something wicked? Isn’t it doing evil? The more I thought about it, the more I felt frightened. I made up my mind to never sell sick pigs again to harm people. A few days later, another pig turned critically ill. I thought, “This time I mustn’t call that man who buys sick and dead pigs. Since the pig is dying, just let it die.” However, looking at the white fat pig, thinking of how much money and energy I had spent on it, I began to waver in my resolution: If the pig dies for nothing, won’t I suffer quite a big loss? Where will I get money for my two sons’ school fees? On the other hand, even if I sell it to that man, I won’t gain any profits, but just suffer fewer losses. But he will harm others if he buys my sick pig. What should I do? I mulled it over, tentative and halting. Just at that moment, a thought flashed through my mind: Anyway, it’s not me who sells the meat to people who are in the meat stuffing business. Since I don’t profit from this, whatever he does will be his own business and have nothing to do with me. At the thought of this, I picked up my phone and made a call to him. That man came soon and took away the sick pig. Though uneasy, I made an excuse to justify myself: I’m forced to do so, for the sake of survival.
Just like this, I had been working and struggling for a better life. However, years later, I was still what I used to be, and my family’s living standard didn’t improve a lot. My wish to be an important person fell through, and my desire to be highly regarded by others was also shattered. At that point, I, who never admitted defeat, felt perplexed about my future: Why do I still not get what I want after so many years of striving? I even felt such a life was too hard and tiring…. Just when I was in distress and despair, ’s of the last days came to me.