Handing over the hunger strike baton
This week was my third week of hunger striking and had been very disappointing for a lack of any media coverage until a 5 minute phone call with RNZ on Friday. You’ll see the link to their news item on me below. I’ve also just been interviewed by NewstalkZB tonight (will air tomorrow morning).
Of course, this isn’t about me or wanting attention. This is about the unspeakable suffering ahead for our children and the utter obscenity that collectively, we are not acting on the clear evidence and science. We are in a herd denial, burning away the lives of our children with our use of fossil fuel.
Despite this definitely not being about me, I’d like to share personally a little with you as I approach the end of my 21 day hunger strike.
This evening we had a simple little ceremony to hand over the hunger strike baton to Robin Treadwell. The baton in this case is a blue, adult size “swaddling” blanket, gifted by Theresa Newcombe. This blanket has travelled all over the world with Theresa and is now travelling with E Tū hunger strikers, providing us comfort and warmth.
I’m feeling proud to have competed 21 days of hunger striking. I am amazed by my body and mind, and how straightforward this has been. My weight has dropped from 80kg to 71kg.
Taking the supplements I think makes a very big difference, and I’m feeling I could easily continue longer. However I’m very happy to be ending tomorrow morning with a first meal of one quarter of an avocado. I’ll then wait 6 hours before eating a small quantity of plain boiled veges.
I’ll very carefully increase my food intake over the next four days before travelling home to Julie and Hana on Friday. I’m looking forward to seeing them very much.
Tim Musson has been rock solid beside me in support every day for the last month (and beforehand in Christchurch) and he will travel back home with me. I’m so grateful to Tim, and the comfort and ease he gives me by continuing to be by my side including the trip home.
This has been a wonderful experience of abandoning myself to follow an irresistible call. I have been supported by many good, deeply committed people. The fledgling vision of E Tū for Future that started around my kitchen table only 6-7 weeks ago is gradually building momentum to be something more than all of us.
I want to be very clear about two things. Firstly I’m not calling on other people to hunger strike. Only hunger strike if the call is irresistible for you, like it was for me.
The change that’s needed appears impossible. Nevertheless, to not act is to choose denial and despair. By acting together, we support each other. Together we free ourselves and allow our love and care to flow in action.
All of us together, each in our own way: whether that is doing vigils, labour strikes, school strikes, hunger strikes, or civil disobedience.
Secondly, my vision for E Tū for Future isn’t for it to be another organisation. My vision for E Tū is as a coalition of existing groups or individuals all agreeing to act for our children’s future. So, E Tū isn’t about being prescriptive about how you choose to act, provided of course that your actions follow the principles of nonviolent direct action (nvda), that IS a bottom line. Violent revolution will only perpetuate the status quo of exploitation and colonisation.
When I return to Christchurch, I’m committing to continuing a vigil in Christchurch all day every Friday. After I recover from this hunger strike I’ll likely be doing that as a fasting vigil. I will also continue in direct actions and activities with XR Otautahi as my activist family.
I deeply appreciate the strong XR (extinction rebellion) community in Christchurch and the love and support they have been showing me. Just naming two: Torfrida for organising the central city Friday vigil and Marney for the amazing, professional videos – we’re so lucky to have you with us Marney. I’d also like to express deep thanks to Rachel Puentener for coordinating support for Julie and Hana, and all of you who’ve provided us meals and childcare.
Finally, I’d like to especially mention Rebecca Finch. Rebecca has limited time in her Friday lunch break and can’t get into town to the bus exchange vigil. So instead she started a solo vigil (now growing) near her work. Rebecca, you’re showing us all how to do it.
So, no excuses! Wherever you are, you can join the revolution for our children’s future. One off events are nice but for change on the scale we need, persistence is key. Like Greta Thunberg school striking every Friday: you chose your place, your day, your action, or join existing actions.
Meanwhile the action here at Parliament continues with Robin Treadwell hunger striking from tomorrow with Sue Boyde in support. Sue will hunger strike following Robin. Tim and I plan to return to Wellington in about a month’s time when likely Tim will hunger strike with myself in support.