Brian Eister, 26, is a youthful veteran of 10 years of activism going back to his opposition to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Since then he has worked with John Kerry’s presidential campaign, the League of Conservation Voters, the Green Party, Public Citizen, Occupy, and other groups.
He is now on a hunger strike to urge immediate action to combat the disastrous effects of climate change. Camped out on the sidewalk in front of the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, D.C., he has not taken any food since before midnight of April 1, subsisting on water, salt and potassium. He is committed to hunger striking for at least 30 days “to demonstrate the level of commitment, dedication and sacrifice necessary from all of us in the face of an existential crisis like global warming. With global catastrophe quickly becoming inevitable”, he says, “the time has come for tactics which reflect the urgency of our situation.”
Several other people will be joining Brian soon, and they intend to camp out in front of the API, fasting, for at least the remainder of April.
I’ve been touched by Brian’s commitment, and I know what he is going through. I was on three long fasts on climate between the fall of 2007 and the winter of 2009, for the same reasons as Brian. I know that water fasts, as distinct from liquid fasts, are both more difficult and more deepening. While water fasting, I came to understand what Gandhi meant when he said, “Fasting is the sincerest form of prayer.”
Oftentimes prayer, like hunger strikes, are what people do when they don’t know what else to do, when conditions are so serious that some power beyond the usual is felt as needed. There’s no question that this is our situation as far as climate change is concerned.
“We are out of time,” Brian has written. “Unless all of us come together now to create an extraordinary climate movement with hunger strikes, marches, visits to officials, non-violent civil disobedience, and direct action, comprehensive climate legislation will be impossible.
Brian can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @hungry4afuture