By Eva Oliver, Life Academy Teacher
“Let the streams of life flow in peace.
Turn from violence.
Learn to think for a long time how to change the world
How to make it better to live in.”
Today was my third time fasting in the name of peace. Being a part of the Season of Peace-Building movement, for two years now, has been one of the most profound honors of my life. I am inspired by the tenacity of my students in their fearless and epic struggle for peace in their own hearts and in their precious and fragile streets. So, today, I reflected on my role in making that struggle a little less challenging and a little more fruitful. I thought about the ways in which I could help my students navigate and ultimately change the oppressive system that allows senseless violence to be normalized and forces them to feel voiceless. The answer is tools – my students need more tools. They need access to the tools used by writers and scientists and lawyers and politicians and teachers and doctors and activists and police officers and community organizers because then their powerful voices, brilliant minds, and resilient hearts will be impossible to ignore. So, providing access to those tools and teaching my students how to use them is my role in all this – today, that role became clearer to me than ever before. For me, writing has always been a tool that I have used to sway minds and hearts and to defend and fight against injustice. James Baldwin tells us, “You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world…The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” So, as a writing teacher, my role in the Season of Peace-Building movement, especially after it ends on 3/22/13, is to teach my students how to use writing to alter the current status quo – better yet to teach them how to use writing to force people to question the status quo. This is a duty that I believe in, that I will take seriously, and that I am committed to pursuing as tenaciously as my students have sought after an ideal and peaceful Oakland.
Along with a great deal of thinking, I also spent much of my fast feeling grateful for my support system that provides me with the confidence and love to do this wonderful and challenging work. I spent the hours before my fast lesson planning with my friend, Kim Young, and her presence filled me with positive energy about my 24-hour commitment. My colleague, Cara Johnson, from whom I received the fast, shared her fasting experience with me and gave me the optimism I needed to last through the day. When my dad and step-mom came to visit later that day, they drank tea with me, instead of eating, in order to show their support of my choice. My mom sent her encouragement over the phone. And, I felt an overwhelming amount of love from my partner, Jordan Ambler, who chose to fast with me, my best friend, Ashley McCue, who brought me a large meal when I celebrated the end of my fast, and my 6th graders who voted to accept the additional homework that would come from leaving class early just so they could watch me break my fast at the daily ceremony. As a result, despite the emptiness of my stomach, my heart was so full of love, gratitude, pride, courage, patience, and purpose that I barely felt the hunger.
Finally, I would like to take the time to extend my thanks to the admirable young men and women of BAM, RAW, and the E-Team who are facilitating this meaningful campaign. You all amaze and inspire me. I will continue to live by your Peace Pledge long after the Season of Peace-Building ends.
Please comment on this post if you supported today’s faster or fasted in solidarity with our movement.
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