No food at all since Friday night. And I’m not the only one. Hundreds of thousands of faith leaders, secular leaders, workers’ rights activists, and poor folks nation-wide are fasting too. I happen to fall into more than one of those categories.
And still the collective silence is deafening. Too many people think the budget crisis has nothing to do with them. Or maybe the assumption is that it’s too hard to understand. Or perhaps we’re experiencing “feeling fatigue”; too much global change, too fast, to pay attention anymore.
If you think the cuts proposed by the Republican-controlled House don’t matter, allow me to offer you a thumbnail view of the reasons you should give a damn—and perhaps you’ll join our fast against hunger, too:
Have you ever depended on governmental programs for subsidization (WIC, food stamps, free or subsidized health care – medicare, medicaid, state governmental health insurance, free clinics, immunization clinics, free or subsidized STI tests or treatment…) or known anyone who has?
Have you ever had an abortion?
Gotten free or subsidized childcare?
I spent time without food as a baby, as a child, and in my late teens/early 20s. I grew up on food stamps and AFDC. And, was reliant on WIC and food stamps when both of my girls were babies. As a disabled (bipolar) person, I still rely on state medical insurance (and solidly believe that everyone should have access to the same), and food stamps when my disability makes it too difficult for me to work enough to make ends meet.
I know many, many other people who have, and who still do, depend on these programs.
When I’m doing well (or at least more well than the less-fortunate) I do what I can for the homeless and needy in my community. What “excess” wealth I have, I distribute.
Yet if the proposed cuts come to pass, I will likely not have the bit of wiggle-room that allows the same level of generosity. And those more needy than I am will be even more needy. That’s how “trickle down” actually works. With Republicans in control, the poor actually do get poorer, and the rich richer.
It hurts my heart to think of all the women whose lives will be so adversely affected if these cuts come to pass. Homes lost, jobs lost, more women becoming reliant on unreliable situations…not to mention the mamas who will be forced into trading sex for food. No joke. It will happen if things continue in the direction they’re headed in. (By the by, I am solidly for decriminalization of sex work, just against anyone feeling it is their only option.)
In addition to being part of a major political event, this practice also fits with my Lenten observance. Most of us are hungry for something. As I recognize my hunger I gain compassion for those hungering without consciousness, and for the areas where I fall into that, too.
The hunger is at times intense. When it is, I use my hunger as an opportunity to be reminded of things; the intent behind the action of fasting—to do what I can to ensure that others less-fortunate Americans (and beings pervading space and time) don’t face MORE hunger in 2012…the suffering of others and what I can do to ameliorate it…and of the bounty in my own life – from choices to food to love and caring and support.
And to witness that there are people all over the world much hungrier than I am.
Fasting in solidarity feels very, very different than fasting for my own spiritual clarity. It feels vastly different than fasting as a cleanse. This is already my longest stretch of water-only fasting ever.
I feel strengthened by the force of those also fasting. And calling the White House, calling governors and senators, writing letters. I hope and pray that my fortitude and Will allow for my ability to hold fast until a favorable resolution is reached.
I am praying for a just solution to be met in the meetings today. And if not today, tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, eventually. A just and wise and compassionate outcome, delivered by strength of mind and goodness of spirit.
I hope you will all pray with me. Pray for an end to a stand-off, but one that doesn’t reduce the quality of life for those already one step away from homelessness. Pray for a conclusion, so that we can all eat. Now, and in coming days.
Pray, and then, take action!