Fasting for Peace – Day Twenty-One

By Kathleen Fong, Sophomore

At first, all I thought about was food. I was hungry, tired, grumpy, because I had not eaten! The best part of the day was when I sat down to think about how people who do not have what we have, feel. It made me more appreciative for the things that I do have. The worst part of my fasting experience was coming home to all sort’s of food that was made by my mom. It was tempting because she made my favorite meal: chicken!

The “I-Statement” I chose to reflect on was, “I promise to never abuse my partner physically or emotionally and to protest against any instances of domestic and teen violence”. When I was fasting, I had time to really think about why I was doing what I was doing. Not only that, but I got a chance to reflect on the problems that were a problem in the world. I chose to reflect upon that I statement because I felt  like there are problems that everyone has. Building up problems will eventually lead to anger, which will lead to violence and it’s not healthy. Also, I felt like there are people who are scared to speak out when they are  being abused or have been abused. They don’t have a voice for themselves so, I thought I’d be a voice for them.

My participation in the Fast Relay demonstrated my commitment to Life Academy’s Season of Peace-Building because I gave my time and energy to stop eating, to reflect on what peace means to me, and to show how important peace is to my community. Unfortunately, I did not get anyone to sign the Peace Pledge. I invited James, who was there to support me during my fast, to fast with me. It felt good to fast with him because there were so many times where I complained to him that I was starving and he would just tell me, “Me too”.  Moments like this  reminded me that he chose to fast with me, even though, he didn’t have to. He wanted to support me and it was good to have a permanent support buddy who could take my complaining. If everyone finds peace within themselves, then this action will lead to peace in our community and they will want peace everywhere else too.

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By Cesy Martinez

Half way through my fast I thought: “Why did I volunteer for this?!” I was hungry and frustrated. My body was weak, but my mind quick and present. In that moment of frustration, I remembered how I came to the decision to fast. I thought of Alejandro Aguilera who was an inspiring and kind young man.

The day I discovered he passed  away I had spend the day in luxury. Growing up in the bubble that is Alameda, California, I never had to worry about my safety or the safety of those I cared about. This privilege is something that has stayed with me even after I left the confines of Alameda. On Saturday, June 2nd I had spent the day in Walnut Creek with family, friends and goddaughter, Sabrina. I had gone shopping in the ritzy Downtown Area and my only worry that day was where I should go for lunch that Sabrina would also enjoy. I never once worried about her or my safety. After shopping I spend the remainder of the afternoon in the warm sun. Being outside and enjoying the sunshine with Sabrina the world seemed at peace. In an instant everything changed. I got a text message from Patricia Murillo saying that Alejandro had been killed the night before and that students and teachers would be meeting at Life to hold space for students. I hugged Sabrina for a complete minute and didn’t want to let her go. Explaining to her, without crying, why I had to cut our day short was the hardest thing I’ve had to do.How do you explain to a three year old why Alejandro was no longer with us? How unfair his circumstances has been? And that there are other youths out there like Alejandro, trying to make a difference in their community, but whose lives will be cut short because of the neighborhood in which they live in.

I quickly left my friend’s place and came over to Life. The entire car ride to Life all I kept thinking was how can this be? I kept thinking “This has to be a mistake. It can’t be the Alejandro that I know? God, how can you let this happen?” I had this feeling of guilt and shame for enjoying the sunshine while family and friends mourned the loss of a great friend, brother and son. Although my interactions with Alejandro was limited to summers, the kindness he shared with me and others has alway stayed with me.

Yesterday, almost seven months later, I was at home feeling hunger pain and wanting to distract myself. I thought to myself, as long as I don’t think about my hunger than the hunger will somehow disappear. I quickly realized that this logic was illogical. I realized that this is how people in Oakland must feel about violence-as long as they don’t think about violence it will cease to exist. Furthermore, if they don’t feel the struggle-through the loss of a loved one-than violence doesn’t affect them and therefore must not exist. But how do you make people understand the struggle that the youth and families in Oakland are dealing with everyday? I don’t know the answers to that.

I am left with this: that Saturday afternoon I was reminded of the relationship between privilege and peace. What students at Life Academy deal with everyday is something I can barely begin to understand. And it makes me so angry because I don’t want parents, families, friends to experience the loss of a loved one due to violence. As I end my day of fasting, I am going to hold myself to helping build community in our school and our neighborhood as that is only a part, small but important part, of building peace.

Please comment on this post if you supported today’s faster or fasted in solidarity with our movement.

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