E Tū vigil day 73, rick day 14

Two weeks in to my hunger strike and I’m in a sort of flow.  Rhythms around waking,  drinking,  commuting,  engaging,  relaxing,  reflecting,  drinking,  sleeping,  going again.  I tire quickly but feeling strong,  and grateful to be in good heart.  In good humor. 

The variety of interactions during each day is broad.  I’ve had many folk I work with come to see me and I’ve loved it.   There’s more reciprocity than there is typically in the therapy setting i think.   Perhaps i have more vulnerability since I’m somewhat starved!?  Today a number of hilarious and also touching moments.   Yesterday too.  Authentic human encounter which can be very nourishing.   I finished my day with an engagement with a beautiful 80 year old who was so open with me, and sincerely spoke of how she would like to do more to help with the climate problem beyond her vegetarian diet and low- fly policy.

“How can I contribute meaningfully?” I find it a very fine question, and one I like to ask myself over and over.

One thing that’s clear to me is that the whole unavoidable presence of unfolding climate alarm globally is being ‘dealt’ with; whether with a dissociative denial, or hopelessness, or through blame and hostility, or through so- called ‘hopium’. Who can bear the grief??? And how do we in activist circles remain connected to ourselves emotionally and not get fixated on perpetrators of climate injustice?? Can we untangle our own trauma enough so that we can keep in touch with all the sides of the thing emotionally?? Our self care included?

I find it works to engage with the public quite gently. If there’s a rigid or dismissive stance, it seems better to approach respectfully rather than try to educate or change people. It’s so fascinating too to reach people where they are. What are their thoughts and beliefs? What do they hope for? What is meaningful to them?? And these exchanges can become quite personal, even intimate, as with the lovely 80 year old today.

Starting out on the strike I imagined it would be an intense inner journey, akin to a meditation retreat. I’m surprised. I am being showered with gifts.

Six days ahead.

I’m aware that some of my writing may be straying from the kaupapa. I can easily imagine that there’s an expectation or hope that I should be more focused, a little more persuasive. But then I think, a hunger strike speaks for itself. Let’s create the space to connect with each other.

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E Tū vigil day 71; Rick day 12

As a therapist I live my life in relatedness and dialog.  How strange this beast, blogging.  Opaque and one sided!  Perhaps this is the life of writers and columnists I am glimpsing into.  I prefer to shape and share my ideas in relationship.  

On this note,  an interesting proposition today ‘what if post ww2 reconstruction was based on nuclear power,  not fossil fuels.   We would have other problems,  but not climate change on the scale we have it’.  This seems accurate.  But I’m very inclined towards the view that although climate change is an existential threat,  it is symptomatic of a worldview that is a way more fundamental problem.  Naomi Klein speaks of ‘sacrificial zones’ required for  industrial growth society.  The colonialist mindset (we built on the backs of slaves).  The patriarchal nonsense.  Racism/ white supremacy (as Klein provocatively says “let them climate refugees drown”).   And the natural/ living world as ‘resource’.  Extractavism.  The natural/ living world as sewer – plastics,  nitrates,  air pollution etc. 

I imagine I’m stating something obvious but that’s alright with me.  In my view,  we are embedded in a highly artificial construct.   Monbiot would say we are living in a myth of omnipotence; captured by a narrative that assumes our primary drive is competitive and not cooperative.  In my work I get to experience a thousand times how cooperative; how relationship seeking we are.  Our very life blood and safety lies in cooperative, responsive relationship.  How did that truth get snared by individualism?

Anyway,  I begin to feel self conscious.   This isn’t my website.   These views are mine,  not necessarily E Tū’s.  But I would encourage anyone to invest 55 minutes watching the YouTube doco ‘living in the time of dying’  https://youtu.be/TvzmPyY08ck  Bendell, Ingram, Jamail and a stunning, pointed and eloquent narrative from a Cherokee elder. 

I’m a bit overwhelmed by the number of friends and whānau that awhi me.  I feel loved and very supported.  One week to go (and thinning down a little).

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E Tū vigil day 69, Rick hunger strike day 10

‘Hunger’ is such an emotive word.  My hunger strike is obviously a hunger for food.  It is designed to convey urgency.   It embraces some sacrifice and offers up a fundamental liberty for something important.   But what else am I and others engaged in these actions,  hungry for?  What i am really hungry for is greater justice.  I see a travesty of harm, committed and due to be committed, upon the vulnerable, upon the oceans, upon our air, our forests,  upon so many threatened species.  I see it as a profound betrayal of all beings and creatures who depend on the interconnectedness of life.  Since we have great power,  therefore we also have great responsibility.

It was a beautiful day at parliament today,  Saturday.  Kieran set up and Rachel stayed all day in support.  Lots of visitors..  Duncan the thoughtful farmer,  Hayden who keeps bees in Miramar who kindly gave me a jar of beautiful honey,  (which made me long for wholegrain toast!); Tim who brought me green tea; brother Dave who rode his Ducati through parliament grounds; Jackson and Ellie and Aderyn.  And dialog with a number of folk all eager for more meaningful action on the climate crises. I enjoy finding ways of engaging with people.  I don’t set out to change their mind, but to stimulate thinking and also to learn myself. 

I’m feeling strong, although my reserves aren’t great. And have decided to aim for 20 days rather than 21 so I have a day to transition a bit before returning to work.

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E Tū vigil day 67, Rick day 8

The only conversations I had on the front steps today were with people I knew well already.  Sue supported me in her gentle and amicable way; Andrew, dear friend and fellow therapist; Claire, therapist too (we are collectively raising the EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE at parliament!  It’s the easiest thing to do ;).  Brother David who has cultivated deep loyalty in his life.   Lovely Jackson again.  Dear Richard came again too.

Claire and I are on the organizing committee for a series of online symposia in March next year titled ‘In the Climate Crucible’.  We want to engage with the psychotherapy community on the psychological and unconscious aspects of what’s playing out.   The culture of uncare.  The disembodied disconnection from the living world.  The culture of individualism and unpleasure. Of denial of grief and disavowal of our capacities to respond.  I made up the word ‘unpleasure’ but it isn’t like our cultural myths are fulfilling people, is it?

It rained in the afternoon.  I drank lemon and ginger tea without any honey and shuffled home.

I thought about the suffering of all the creatures in the wildfires.  Three billion in the Australian calamities???  How many in California?? The Arctic circle fires?? In the Amazon…  I want to add a thousand question marks to punctuate their suffering.  It’s hard to stay in the awareness of this magnitude of loss.  I notice rage and anguish and tremendous sadness within me surfacing as I write.

“May the earth feel your sorrow” This is a line from the poem Blessing for Anyone by Caitlyn Johnstone adapted for music by Michael Brunnock. I find it extraordinary https://youtu.be/11Bha4iSICg

My dear friend and cousin Lesley is writing to me each day of this hunger strike. She is an insightful one. And said today that in taking time out of my usual schedule I have the privilege of space. Space to feel what many are too absorbed in daily life to feel. Maybe performing a function of feeling and digesting some of what needs to be felt collectively. Maybe.

Enough for now. Blessings and a heart of love to all the creatures, human and non human caught in the wildfires that our betrayal of them has created.

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E Tū vigil day 66, rick day 7

A tougher day.  I’ve lost my sleep,  one of the things I can usually count on to carry me along.  Gone!  My energy is shifting too.  Few reserves.   I’m reminded of my more carbon oblivious days when international travel was a fun adventure – my son and I trekked in the Himalayas.   The oxygen at 5,000 meters was thin and insufficient and I crawled up the last 500 meters.  It’s getting a bit like that now.   It’s alright.  Just have to lean in and try to embrace the discomforts.

A stimulating dialog with a young Brazilian pair today.   Bolsenaro has much support on the ground,  they said (for more on his ascension to power, check out ‘the edge of democracy’ doco https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/18/movies/edge-of-democracy-review.html).  The pair described how the situation in Brazil is of those who support unfettered industrial growth and who justify the critical and cruel blows to the Brazilian Amazon in the name of wealth generation,  versus those whose heart lies with bio diversity, interdependence, a future that’s liveable. 

I am ritualising drinking and imbibing my broth in the evenings.   It’s a single cup, and I bring my full attention to sitting and smelling and breathing and the divine taste and the warmth of the bowl in my hands.  I want to be this mindful and present and grateful for the privilege of being alive.

Kieran is a rock.   Thank you for interrupting your work day once again Kieran to come down especially and fetch all the heavy stuff.  Thank you too to Hiro who supported me and also carried piles of stuff back up the hill at the end of the day.  My psychotherapy colleague and friend, Fran, came by and tried to persuade TVNZ who were nearby to interview (not this time).  My brother David.  My niece’s partner Jackson, who spoke so proudly of his brand-new-in-the-world first born son. Ah the joy and the weight of holding little ones through all of this.

To the young children.  On behalf of my generation.   I don’t know what to say to you.  Call us blind,  arrogant,  greedy,  entitled,  addicted,  disconnected,  lost.   All those words fit for me.

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E Tū, day 65, Rick day 6

Rick with supporters

It is a little sobering to know that these reflections posted online live in perpetuity in the online universe.  Yet doing this hunger strike is both very personal, as well as political, and it seems important to say more about what motivates me to strike. 

When I took the time to absorb the scientific evidence,  and scientific opinion on climate change, I developed a deeply personal relationship to the whole equation.  My initial response was overwhelming grief.   I walked beside my local awa and wept.  Waves and waves of tears.  Have you encountered your grief for the devastations??  We grieve when we love what is lost.   And grief helps us adapt to the new reality.  And perhaps to act.  My first impulse when processing my visceral sense of loss was ‘hunger strike’.  But I didn’t do it – I let life get in the way.  But when the ‘ETū for our future’ created the momentum for hunger striking I knew I was there. 

That seems to be a way that change can happen.  I for one am deeply influenced by people who embody their values through loving sacrifice. 

Briefly, on the fast,  I didn’t sleep well last night for the first time.   My body was unsettled.   But my energy is good.  I feel strong.   My partner,  Sahra said “you’re in the foothills and the ascent is still ahead”. Surely true. Staying as close to the present moment is an essential tool. More on that later. 

A deep bow to those who are supporting this vigil over the long haul.  Caz set up and stayed with me all day.  Hiro packed away.  Yesterday,  Molly (83!) came all day,  Kieran set up,  Caz and Diana came by,  Hiro packed away again.  So much awhi and holding.   My brother David comes each day,  my brother in law,  David came today too, as did Natalie.   Blessings and my love to you all.🙏

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E Tū day 63, rick day 4

I enjoyed setting up under the beautiful pohutukawa tree this weekend. It has huge, strong limbs and I like sitting beneath them, feeling their protective strength, especially as the wind and rain showed up. It’s an odd thing to have such a powerful companion from the natural world on the doorstep of parliament.

The strike is going well. My body is adjusting, losing weight, losing energy a bit now too but it’s manageable so far and I’m sleeping well. I am eating half a teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of miso each day and as much herbal tea as I can manage.

I have more to say about what moves me and I think I will take the liberty in future posts to express myself more fully.

Thank you to Sue who supported me today and for visitors Hiro, Rachel, my daughter Gabriella, and Kieran.

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E Tū day 62

Under the tree

Kia ora, Rick here on the third day of my hunger strike.  I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie and quality of support these past few days as I’ve taken the Vigil seat at parliament.  Thank you to everyone that’s been involved.  My thanks to Rachel who came and supported me today.   I loved her quip “that place they call the Beehive is more like a wasp’s nest!” 

Every evening I allow myself one half a teaspoon of honey (10 calories!).  A honey bee creates about one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime, I understand.     Thank you to the honey bees.

My fast is going pretty smoothly so far – a little headachy the first two days and I’ve been sleeping a lot but my energy feels good.  I feel fortunate to be able to take these weeks off work to make the strongest statement I can.  In solidarity with threatened species, with human life in many parts of the globe who are being and will continue to be devastated by climate chaos.  Bearing witness to the destruction and standing against it the best I can.  I’ll post regularly though perhaps more briefly.  Ngā mihi mahana, Rick

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E tu day 52, Paul 10

Well, the end of a 10 day fast is nearly over. I have met a lot of intelligent, interesting people in this group up here in Wellington and many members of the public, very concerned about this crisis we have created. An enlightening experience, something I wasn’t prepared for, but would do again in a heartbeat.

Today I hear that Roger Hallam and 4 associates have been arrested and remanded over ‘conspiracy to commit public nuisance and criminal damage’. They have formed the political party Beyond Politics and were arrested in their homes for spraying pink paint on NGO buildings and political party buildings. They have started a endless hunger strike. They are calling for action on climate change and the implementation of unchallenged citizens assemblies.

While that news is amazing and scary all in one, I hope that will not be buried under the mountain of high level corruption that Assange finds himself dying under and that the action is so high profile and infectious that authorities are cornered. Good luck.

A friend of Caz came by today and talked with Hiro and me. A biology degree in progress, Yoyo (that’s not a typo) is a French born, English and French raised lady, accomplished diver and student of the world. She blew me away and I put her right up there with Chloe Swarbrick. She would like to go back to England on completion of her schooling and take up the political fight for our world, for which she knows is in perilous decline. Another man, ‘Jack’, a Chinese national that has completed a master’s in data analysis at UC, stopped by and Kieran and I had a very interesting talk with him. Frowned on by his poor country family for wanting to study overseas, his friends and relatives paid for him to do as he wanted. He related that there would be no activism in where he was from, that one would be arrested right away. He found New Zealand free and easy going. Two others quickly stopped by, a lady named Susan from XR Wellington and another man that let me know that what we’re doing is of the upmost most importance. He related that his countrymen were having difficulty with growing crops, siting drought and unusual heavy rains hampering a good harvest. Ominous. A daily reality for so many all over the globe, already.

Thank you all for supporting me. I realize how much effort goes into this, it’s no small deal. Caz, Sue, Hiro, Mick, Kieran, Tim and Robin and a special thank you to Sue for the yummy pumpkin soup and sourdough starter. Thank you all. Everyone. I hope I can be back to help you lot someday soon.

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E tu day 51, Paul day 9.

A really interesting day had by all. Lots of visitors, some too busy to take a pic, a day that started out damp and cold quickly became warming and sunny.

Early on we had a visit from two Quaker ladies, one from N Carolina who are members of World beyond War. Liz Remmerswaal, the director of the International Coordinating Committee in Aotearoa and her friend Jan from the States. Good chat about the devastating effects of climate change and war. She wished us well.

Surprisingly David Parker came and introduced himself and spent ten minutes with us and we questioned him on some of his upcoming policy and legislation. He gave quite a lot of information in a short time, but the gist of it was on farming and the implementation of national policy on water quality. Really good to see him. Did not question him on declaration of climate emergency as he abruptly left.

Next we had a quick visit and good wishes from Johnathon Boston, professor of policy studies at Victoria Uni, Wellington and formally director of the institute for governance and policy studies. The question was posed ‘what is the biggest roadblock to action on climate change?’ Very simply, for him, political will. About then, a young, politically motivated man named Robert came and spent the remainder of the afternoon with us, debating many social issues, weighted, it seemed with an honest curiosity of religion and conspiracy. He is looking for a place in the Outdoors party and was looking for a meeting with a local leader. He was, however, well in tune with regenerative farming, small sustainable communities and protections for our native flora and fauna, but was very against 1080.

John Blincoe came past again, with a query of my health and I assured him all was good. He repeated his hapiness to be working with Eugenie Sage and James Shaw. There was an interesting exchange between John and Robert about New Zealands oil trade and the implementation of green hydrogen fuel, derived, as Mick recalled from a previous conversation with Molly Melhuish, from electrolysis, an electrical powered process, splitting the hydrogen from the oxygen, called green hydrogen, but only if it is a process using electricity supplied from a carbon neutral source. (hydro, in our case, forgetting the make up of the infrastructure).

We were visited later by 3 lads on a road trip to *maybe* the South Island, from Taranaki, all involved in one type of farming or another who were quite concerned about the state of our environment and the global environment. They have seen it first hand, as I have and their concern was real and justified. Keegan, whose family farm is very against the corporate expansion of industrial farming and left us with a quote……. ‘Farming is a practice that shouldn’t be wholly centered on profit. Period.’

Yes. A very interesting day. We packed up feeling some kind of accomplishment.

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