Ending the 2007 Fast

Future Hope column, Dec. 21, 2007

by Ted Glick

Two days ago, December 19th, Congress’ last day of work for this fall, following the House’s vote in support of $70 billion in no-strings-attached money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and, as a result, in support of an appropriations bill for 2008 that includes almost $30 billion in loan guarantees for nukes and coal, I began to eat solid foods.

The first things that I used my teeth to chew on since September 4th, the day Congress returned from its summer recess, were a regular potato and a sweet potato, followed by some mixed vegetables.

It was good to eat, but it would have been much, much better if the end to this fast were not so bittersweet.

I do give thanks that a pretty weak energy bill was passed which does represent the beginnings of a turn away from our fossil fuel addiction, as limited as that bill is and problematic as parts of it are, particularly its dramatic support for corn-based and other forms of ethanol.

On the other hand, perhaps it was fitting that the continued dominance over this Congress by the oil, coal, nuclear and gas interests was made clear by these last few days of voting. Because of that dominance there was virtually no money for renewable energy in the energy bill that was signed by Bush on the 19th, while an extremely modest effort to repeal tax breaks for oil companies in that bill was threat-of-filibustered out.

And that awkward wording is deliberate. There wasn’t a filibuster, just a threat of one, the tactic used by Republicans over and over this year, the tactic the Democrats only once called their bluff on, and that in a half-hearted way.

When will we have leadership in Congress that stands up to evil?

And these people are evil. I called the Bush/Cheney gang “climate criminals” on Democracy Now during a December 11th interview. That’s what they are, liars, deceivers, obstructionists–evil.

In this Christmas season, the words of Jesus come to mind: “love your enemies.” Yes, we should love these enemies by confronting them, by getting as close to them as we can, and telling them that they need to be “born again” to the truth of what they are doing so that, like Paul on the road to Damascus, they can become powerful witnesses to help the world take the necessary steps so that we and our descendants, the seventh generation, can have a future worth living for, worth living in.

Are there any people with a conscience left within the Bush administration?

Fortunately, outside of that administration more and more of us are stepping it up. That is where my hope for the future comes from. That is why I intend to begin fasting again after the first of the year.

Every Monday, for an indefinite period of time, certainly for many months, I will eat no food and drink water only.

I don’t want to forget or lose touch with the many, many positive things that have happened on this 107-day, 2007 climate emergency fast:

-the expressions of support and appreciation from so many people, friends, relatives, co-workers, people I didn’t know before. All of us need to feel appreciated, and I’m no different. To feel that support was very strengthening;

-the daily remembrance of what is being done to our earth and all of its life forms because of the actions of powerful, evil people; the sense of connection to those suffering as a result; and the heightened appreciation of the need for me to do all that I can to help to change those realities;

-the sense that I was playing as effective a role as I could within the climate movement and the larger progressive movement, that my willingness to take action on a daily basis amplified what I had to say;

-the personal weight loss which, while greater (45 pounds) than what is healthy for me long-term, will hopefully help me to be more disciplined as I return to eating and keep my weight where it should be;

-and finally, the truly amazing things that happened on this fast that never would have if I wasn’t doing it. Like the vivid dream I had on the 12th night followed the next day by an interpretation of it by a prominent Indigenous leader who by
some coincidence or by fate was with me at a conference. Or the close friend and fellow activist who asked me to pray to Jesus with him for the strength to carry on, day to day, with this sometimes difficult work. Or the many young people at the Power Shift conference who came up to me and thanked me for what I was doing. Or the sense of connection I had, especially during the water-only, first 25 days, with the plants and animals I encountered as I walked around the neighborhood in Takoma Park, Md. where I was staying.

I hope other people will want to join with me on this every-Monday, 2008 climate emergency fast. We can’t forget that our energies and our commitment are needed now, right now, that 2008 will be a critical year in our desperate struggle to slow,
stop and reverse the path toward the cliff we are being driven by those in power.

Ted Glick is the coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council. He can be reached at indpol@igc.org or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.