Well I wish I could have a cup of tea actually— or a cup of anything other than water. But this is for a good cause, an inner cause really. I’m re-setting my moral compass and learning mental compassion, consciousness and gratefulness. How to look at those around me and feel true empathy for their needs, and their lack…
Ever since I looked at the situation inSomalia, into the eyes of the children staring back listlessly on the news, at the updated articles in magazines giving horror story after horror story, I had to sit back. Take stock… How often do we hear about death, mayhem, famine—about people losing homes and family members, about starvations, wars, and terror…? Too often; that’s the answer…
So much so that I for one, frequently take a stand not to watch the news, as the realities of the world that we live in are often so negative that I find myself crying the entire 30 minute segment… crying for the broken world that we live in. Broken not by its own creation, but by mankind’s involvement and mistakes…
But then again, I’m soft hearted and the death of a bunny can effect me, so that’s just how I am… Having said that though – seeing the new level of need inSomaliamade me realise how luke-warm we have gotten with our empathy. When we see those pictures, they no longer reach their fingers around our hearts and rattle us awake; they no longer shake us to our core… And this I find sad, as a holistic humanity, it means that we have something missing… That link, fragile and beautiful between all of mankind has lost its ability to bind us together.
Now while I can’t don a pair of pink combat books and be on the ground handing out food parcels in Somalia- while I can’t wheedle hundreds of rands out of corporate’s, or my own bank account to donate… that doesn’t mean there is nothing I can do… I can realise that I am d*mn lucky…blessed…fortunate (call it what you will!) I have food, I have access to food, my entire family is happy and well-fed…and this is something that my fellow humans cannot take for granted… Somewhere miles away from my life is someone who doesn’t have food in their belly, their children cry, their bellies rumble, and they realise with sadness that there is nothing they can do to change their situation. Knowing that my biggest offer to humanity and to those people inSomaliais to reach out – I have; with my heart and mind.
I have decided to fast for 3 weeks, to give up on any food and drinks during the day
( except for water—! Need to stay hydrated at work!) While I took on this challenge not quite knowing how or what to expect, I have been surprised… There are times in the day when all you can think about is food— times when you go weak or light-headed, when all you hear is the rumble of your tummy, and all you want to do is eat something. And this is just MY experience, and I get to eat every evening. I must say… its been eye-opening… come the end of the day I dream about that first cup of tea, and I eat each meal at night with a new reverence, knowing that its something iv wanted all day… knowing that my brothers and sisters out there in the world haven’t ended their hunger yet… the day has come to a close and they still fight their food demons, their children’s cries, and their aching bellies… they fight as the day comes to a close; with the hope that tomorrow will bring something better! Everytime I get to eat now I send a thought of true empathy, of mental compassion, and of love… wishing I could split whatever it is I have—
I’ve been accompanied in my fast this last week by a close friend of mine, Ryan, who wanted to know the pain and hunger that I was going through – and understand what drove me to fast… And what hundreds of people around the world experience, through no choice of their own, on a daily basis. Choosing hunger is a luxury for people like Ryan and I, who can give up what we have. But we must remember that others aren’t giving something up—they have nothing, their situation is very real!
So I guess in summary I want to just look at two quotes. The first essentially an answer as to why I chose to fast. The author is Stephen Batchelor (Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist), who says:
“To embrace suffering culminates in greater empathy, the capacity to feel what it is like for the other to suffer, which is the ground for unsentimental compassion and love.”
“And then I want you to expand with me, to grow, to stretch your heart mind and imagination, not necessarily through fasting, but however you see fit. As Gloria Steinhem says in Revolution from within. “
“Empathy is the most revolutionary emotion”
Let’s start a worldwide mental-consciousness revolution!