By Cara Johnson, Youth Developer
Over the weekend, I fasted from 12:30 pm on Sat to 12:30 pm on Sunday. This was my first time ever fasting without food, and I was surprised by how hungry and weak I felt by Saturday night. I could hear my stomach audibly growling and drank glasses and glasses of water to cover up the gnawing hunger. I ended up staying at home all night to focus on taking care of myself and to let my thoughts wander freely while reflecting on this very physical experience.
The pledge that I focused on during my fast was “I pledge to build up my beloved community to help build lasting peace,” which felt very different than my actual experience. While fasting, I felt self-focused and almost alienated as I struggled with my hunger and willpower to stay true to the fast in isolation from friends, family, or my community. Today, as I broke my fast, I intentionally surrounded myself with close friends who I could share my experience with over food because the fast felt disconnected from building community-wide peace. By sharing my fasting experience online, I was able to include a larger social network in the campaign, but I still wonder if we are doing enough to change people’s day-to-day decisions that make the difference between taking violent action and building peace.
I do feel great power in the collective actions our Season of Peace Building group is doing. We are strong, motivated individuals striving to create a culture of peace through individual choices. Knowing that I am just one link in a larger chain of fasters, and that there are a group of people spreading the word about the work of the Season of Peace Building, keeps me optimistic that this small school full of powerful student leaders CAN change the culture of the larger community. The need in Oakland for immediate action is dire. Homicide rates are as high as ever, and everyone I know has been directly impacted by violence in our community in some way, but where is the call for alarm? Where is the urgency for real immediate change? I am ready for direct, bold action! I am ready to work on policy change in Oakland. I am ready to address our lax gun laws, our unresponsive police force, economic inequities, lack of opportunity for young people to access jobs, and ready to counter the environmental racism that disproportionately impacts those least able to advocate for their own health and safety. I end my fast more motivated to act on building connections with other peace building organizations. By spreading the campaign to other schools, we can initiate lasting peace through collective action and the power of the masses.
Please comment on this post if you supported today’s faster or fasted in solidarity with our movement.
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