Experience and Empathy

Posted in General by Brian @ Apr 30, 2013

(Written on day 30 of #climatehungerstrike in Washington, DC)

If you’ve never been forced to go hungry for a few days, it is an experience that I recommend everyone go through at least once.

As my stomach growls after thirty days and I can’t help but imagine the tastes of my favorite foods longingly, the injustice of hundreds of millions of people forced to experience this on a regular basis is so vividly real, so horrifyingly appalling, that I am simply beside myself.

The word empathy is defined in the Miriam Webster dictionary as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.

For many of us this quality of the heart, the quality which lies at the core of the deepest compassion, caring, and love, is limited by our narrow frames of reference.

How can we truly reach out and touch the pain of our brothers and sisters suffering around the world when we have absolutely no idea what it could feel like to be in their shoes?

How can we truly touch the horrors of the world we are leaving to our children when our very nervous systems have never palpated anything even closely resembling them?

I can honestly say, for the first time in my life, that I am beginning to understand the apathy of the industrialized world. This apathy which allows the perpetuation of war, starvation, brutal working conditions, and other consequences of our lifestyle in the lives of people in every corner of the globe is partly a consequence of the fact that with no frame of reference for these experiences, it is impossible for us to make their existence real in our hearts and our minds.

On this hunger strike I have come to understand more deeply the quality that is necessary for the formation of a global movement of deep, spiritual, non-violent resistance that may give future generations a life: heart.

Gandhi and King strongly encouraged their followers to take self-suffering and purification upon themselves in preparation for their struggles. They understood, as I can only say that I am just beginning to, that to experience real suffering not only creates deep solidarity with those who experience the consequences of the injustice we seek so desperately to fight, but it allows us to go beyond the pettiness of our day-to-day desires, anxieties, and concerns to find the space in our consciousness to touch what is real. It strengthens our spirits.

The wisdom of Gandhi and King, I know now, can not be learned through books alone.

I am firmly convinced that the path of non-violent, spiritual struggle presents the only road to humanity’s salvation. I believe it is the only chance that we have to combat global injustice against impossible odds and make a future possible, but more fundamentally I believe it is the only road available for all of us to rise above the shallowness, self-absorption, and apathy which have brought us, collectively, into this mess in the first place.

I also see very clearly that in the way of non-violent, spiritual struggle, I am as a pre-schooler. This experience has taught me more about myself and about life than perhaps any I can think of in momory. Most of all it has taught me how much I have to learn.

Given how little time we have, I pray we will all learn fast.

Day 29 – Conquering More Than a Handful of Unconquerable-Challenges – Part 1

Posted in General by Brian @ Apr 29, 2013

(Written on day 29 of #climatehungerstrike in Washington, D.C.)

As day 29 of the fast drags on, my mental and physical energy are waning in a very real way, and I have quite a headache.

I have retreated indoors for the time being to escape the cold and the rain here in Washington, DC, and while I would like to use the opportunity that this presents to see a doctor, I am finding it difficult to move so much.

There are people all across the world who deal with hunger on a much more frequent basis without the comforting mental and emotional luxury of knowing that they can choose to eat whenever they would like.

As global warming and other trends like ocean acidification, overpopulation, soil destruction, the demolition of ecosystems for development, and the depletion of water tables around the world continue to expand at a rapid rate and make it increasingly difficult for human beings to get by, hunger like I am experiencing now will come to be the norm.

We are headed towards a world of scarcity, conflict, misery, and warfare if we don’t turn all of these trends around as quickly as possible.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions were to stop today, we would still be facing a bleak future. Besides dealing with climate change, we have virtually no time flat to eradicate the poverty and gender inequality which is the root cause of runaway population growth, deal with the rampant use of pesticides which is turning soil into dirt all around the world, prevent the destruction of vital ecosystems which are crucial to our survival, and do so much more that it boggles the mind.

What would it take to make all of this possible?

It hardly seems like it is. Whatever worldwide awakening it is which gives birth to a movement to tackle these issues is going to be unlike anything that any of us can presently visualize from our previous experiences or even knowledge of history.

It is going to happen, though, because it must.

(Part 2 to come)

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Oil Change International Writes a Story About #climatehungerstrike

Posted in Media by Brian @ Apr 29, 2013

Andy Rowell – Climate Activist on Day 29 of Hunger Strike

New article about the #climatehungerstrike in the Huffington Post

Posted in Media by Brian @ Apr 29, 2013

Jerry Nelson: Hunger Strike Continues at American Petroleum Institute

New Article About #Climatehungerstrike on Grist

Posted in Media by Brian @ Apr 27, 2013

Written by Ted Glick, Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, who has undertaken multiple extended hunger strikes and been a fiercely determined and spiritual climate activist for a long time.

Ted Glick – Hunger Strike on 27th Day

How Is The Hunger Strike Supposed to Convince Anybody?

Posted in General by Brian @ Apr 27, 2013

(Written on day 27 of #climatehungerstrike on location outside of the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, D.C.)

Q: “How is this hunger strike supposed to convince anybody of anything?”

A: It’s doesn’t need to.

There are the policymakers, who treat this issue as though we had all the time in the world to fix it. They already know better.

There are members of the press, who bury stories about the impending ruination of the world’s economy by global warming on page 13 of the newspaper, while consistently placing stories about members of congress wrangling over budgets  on front page. They already know better.

Perhaps saddest of all, there are educated, intelligent people who surely love their children working for groups like the American Petroleum Institute and Americans for Clean Coal Electricity. They already know better.

There are the would-be activists who read wonderfully written and poignant blogs about the subject, follow the news about global warming and other  brewing environmental disasters, and would very much like to see a movement arise to tackle these issues. Unless those people form such a movement, of course, there will not be one.

I’m not here to make a brilliant, unique, or original statement. None of these groups need one. Instead, the truth has to somehow be made so undeniably, morally, clear to their hearts, rather than just their minds, that they are compelled to overcome the inertia which keeps humanity trapped on the road to an indescribably dismal future.

What I am here to do, and what I pray a million of us will stand up and do, is suffer for the truth. Choosing to suffer for the sake of the truth, as Gandhi understood it, was one of the most powerful tools available for awakening the hearts of those who are committing wrongs.

To villainize or antagonize the other, Gandhi understood, would deepen their own inner justifications and move them further away from facing the truth, but to take suffering upon oneself for the sake of the truth, while acknowledging the higher angels in those committing the wrongs and offering them friendship instead of condemnation, could offer them a road to repentance and salvation.

The willful deniers of global warming, the lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry, members of congress who fail to stand up, and members of the press who treat the most important story of our day as though it is somehow less important than a parliamentary chess game played over budget maneuvers are all people who love their children and want to see humanity have a future.

They need our help, all of our help, to see clearly what is important and what is not.

They need it now.

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Day 27

Posted in General by Brian @ Apr 27, 2013

At the dogged insistence of a good friend, I went to see a doctor yesterday.

My weight has fallen from around 165 lbs. to 141, which is to be expected. People on water fast typically lose around 1 lb./day of weight. Vitals, remarkably, were normal, and every indication was that I remained healthy. Blood was taken to check my electrolyte levels.

At 5:30 this morning, I received a phone call, indicating that it was extraordinarily urgent that I have my electrolytes checked again, but in a facility which is able to return the results immediately. For this, the doctor recommended an emergency room.

I am certainly not a wealthy man, however. I left my job at the beginning of this hunger strike, and it has taken most of my money to get this thing off of the ground and keep it running. This being the case, I went again to speak with a doctor at the clinic.

Diagnosis: low sodium and chloride. I am taking sea salt to raise these levels, and tomorrow a friend from an activist medical organization will be giving me another look. I will keep you updated as things develop.

For now, I hope you’ll consider making a donation to this cause. Donations will help not only with covering the costs of art materials, web hosting, wi-fi, and power, but will also allow me to purchase high-quality organic food during my recovery period.

Tomorrow, along with new content, I will post a medical update and keep you informed about my health and the status of the hunger strike going forward.

Thank you all for your support, your love, and your efforts to save our planet. Let’s keep up the fight in solidarity through thick and thin.

Day 26

Posted in General by Brian @ Apr 26, 2013

I am on hunger strike, quite simply, because I can think of no action which could adequately express the urgency of humanities present situation.

There are more than a few trends which, left unchecked, are likely to make life impossibly difficult for future generations. Global Warming, of course, seems to be the one that we have the least time to fix.

As an exercise in understanding the urgency of this situation, it is well to zoom in on a small aspect of this crisis: snow pack, glaciers and drinking water.

The rate of global warming in high mountainous regions tends to be much higher than the global average.

In the Himalayas, the rate is higher even than the average in mountainous regions.

Just four of the nine rivers fed by the Himalayas, collectively, provide drinking water for more more than half a billion people in Asia.

Glaciers and snow pack all around the world, which provide the drinking and irrigation water that sustain more than a billion people, are set to melt and decline, respectively, as a consequence of global warming.

This will, at first, cause devastating floods, but years later a brutal new reality of water scarcity will descend upon regions which have traditionally relied upon snow pack and glaciers for all of their needs.

To the point: if the snow pack decline and melting of glaciers in just this one region will affect hundreds of millions of people, glaciers will be melting (and snow pack declining) all around the world, and the melting of glaciers/decline of snow pack is but one of many equally devastating consequences of global warming, it seems we’re in a bit of trouble.

That is why all of us must do every last thing in our power to slow greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible, from hunger strikes, marches, and civil disobedience to letter writing, phone calls, and one-on-one education in our communities.

Given the urgency of what is coming, every one of our lives should, first and foremost, be dedicated to preventing this coming catastrophe.

To deliver that message to every last one of us is why I am on hunger strike.

(Written on day 26 of hunger strike on location outside of the American Petroleum Institute at 1220 L Street NW in Washington, D.C. Edited on 4/27/13 at 12:51 AM)

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Press release Day 25

Posted in Press Releases by Brian @ Apr 25, 2013

Contact:  Brian Eister

702-556-9674

planetaryspring@gmail.com

Twitter: @hungry4afuture

Thursday April 25, 2013

For Immediate Release: On Day 25 of Climate Hunger Strike, Activists Set Up Permanent Encampment

Climate Activists Brian Eister, who is beginning day 25 of a hunger strike around climate issues, and Barry Knight, who recently joined the hunger strike, are setting up a camp outside of the American Petroleum Institute (1220 L St. NW) at 12:00 P.M. on April 25th, 2013.

The camp will, as circumstances permit, be up for the remainder of their hunger strike.

The hunger strikers are calling upon Americans everywhere to insert themselves into a grassroots struggle to achieve comprehensive climate legislation.

Concerning the target of the hunger strike, Eister had this to say: “I’m not passing the buck to Congress or the White House. The unified effort of millions is going to be required for us to have a chance of overcoming the trillions of dollars in fossil fuel money which have corrupted our government. This hunger strike is a call to action.”

“We have all the technology that we need to solve this problem.” He continued. “We have developed the policies that will solve this problem. The only thing that is missing is the will.”

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For more information contact Brian Eister at planetaryspring.com, 702-556-9674, or on Twitter @hungry4afuture.

Who is the target of this hunger strike?

Posted in General by Brian @ Apr 25, 2013

I am commonly asked if Congress is the target of my hunger strike.

A Congress full of members whose ability to stay in office hinges on the spending of moneyed interests such as fossil fuel industry has little autonomy to tackle climate change in a lasting way.

Many members of congress, supporting strong climate legislation, would find themselves unseated, casualties of millions of dollars of campaign spending by a powerful and wealthy fossil fuel industry determined to protect their interests. Their ability to preserve climate legislation would be non-existent from the sidelines, but their industry-funded replacements would be more than happy to roll back those climate reforms and more.

The reality is that the impetus to slow climate change, inasmuch as we still live in a democracy, lies with every last one of us. When millions are prepared to make real sacrifices to dedicate themselves to a future for humanity, we can become a force more powerful than fossil-fuel-funded lies and campaign expenditures.

When our convictions, our sacrifices, our actions, and our willingness to suffer for the truth are a moral force which is unmistakably clear, all the propaganda in the world will not be able to stand against us.

Who, then, is the target of my hunger strike?

Every last one of us.

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