After more than three decades of petitions, protests and campaigns, and despite the best efforts of many protestors, global governments have failed to act as necessary to mitigate ecological and climate breakdown and secure the future for our planet. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, and widespread ecological destruction is accelerating. As the catastrophe escalates with each passing day, it increasingly seems our leaders have abandoned us. As a result, motivated rebels have agreed to employ this hunger strike as a last-resort tactic. By denying ourselves food and engaging in spiritual practices (meditation, prayer, etc), we fasters hope to sound the alarm by using our bodies.
We recognize that what we elective fasters in the West are doing is minor compared to the truly dire starvation facing 10% of the world’s population. We acknowledge that we have the privilege of being able to choose when to eat, so the fast is carried out in solidarity with communities worldwide who do not – particularly those in the Global South, who are frequently forcibly starved.
We also fast in solidarity with prisoners, migrants and racially marginalised peoples who choose to fast or hunger strike as a last resort against systemic oppression, including those who have historically pioneered this incredibly powerful last-resort tactic as a means of liberation from the shackles of depression, apathy and oppression.
Throughout history, fasting has been seen as a deeply personal measure of last resort. It has been used effectively to catalyse change by such heroic figures as Mahatma Gandhi during the Indian Independence Movement, Marion Wallace Dunlop during the women’s suffrage movement, the students of Tiananmen Square and US prisoners protesting solitary confinement, among many other notable movements and individuals.
What will the fast aim to achieve?
The goal of Earth Fast 2020 will be for the government to implement a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice that will empower citizens to take the lead and politicians to follow with less fear of political backlash.
Fasting is also itself a form of protest, which is based on bringing forward compassion towards the practitioners and the causes and individuals they represent from the power-holders. The assumption is that if you suffer, the opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his or her heart.
But in order for this to work, the opponent must have a conscience. Sadly, at present, it seems the governments, corporations and power-holders in our world do not have a conscience; they continually act as though the peoples and terrains they rule over are secondary or of no value compared to the profits they seek.
As a result, this fast is also aimed towards making the public more aware of the lack of compassion and penetrating self-interest that is prevalent in our governments, corporations and power-holders, and to foster a greater alliance among those who do have a conscience.
Therefore, we also address the Earth Fast towards members of the public, as it is our hope that by increasing consumer and public awareness, more and more people may join us in resisting these false and destructive goals of our leaders. There is strength in numbers, and as more align with this message, it will have greater power to force our leaders to act.