By: An anonymous community member who supports the Season of Peace-Building
From the moment six BAM members introduced the 74-day Peace Building campaign at a Life Academy staff meeting in January, I felt my heart stir. As someone who lives in the neighboring community of Alameda, I had read newspaper article after article about gun violence in Oakland and felt disturbed and dismayed. Over and over again, I felt a yearning to do something to help remedy the violence and its underlying root causes… and yet, I felt uncertain about what I could do. The invitation to be part of the Season of Peace-Building fast relay resonated with me as a potentially vital and valuable first step.
The afternoon I started my fast I was out on the sidewalk supervising my young boys. A few of their friends asked me why I was wearing an armband and I explained that I was supporting youth in Oakland to stop violence. In response, the children asked me, “What is violence?” In that moment I found myself wondering if a 6-year old child in Oakland would have to ask the same question. I also imagined a community where violence was unknown to all members – a community where love reigned supreme. As someone who pledged to contemplate and embody the pledge statement “I pledge to find the beauty in and empathize with everyone” during my fast, I found myself picturing a community where every member felt fully understood and beautiful. This world would be very different than the one we currently live in.
Some naysayers might dismiss this vision as a naïve pipe dream, but I believe that when we begin to focus our attention on the possible and become, as Ghandi said, “the change we want to see” that this vision can become a reality.
I ended my fast heartened by three people who fasted with me – two people in Philadelphia and a friend, who used to supervise Gabriel Martinez’s lunch period at Otis School in Alameda.
As I fasted and suppressed hunger pangs, I came to appreciate how we humans can concentrate our energy and overcome our weaknesses. Through this same kind of determination we can choose to be mindful of our actions and resist any impulses that may harm others. By turning away from eating for 24-hours and emptying my belly, I filled my heart and spirit with a new sense of resolution and commitment to actively live in a way that honors all beings and creates harmony for all beings on the planet. I am profoundly grateful to the BAM and RAW students who blessed me with this opportunity to participate in this powerful campaign.
Edited By: Eva Oliver, RAW Co-Coach