More Reflections on my Fast in the Final 48 Hours

I’m in the middle of the sixth day of my fast and I’m quite amazed at how possible it is to do this. After finishing my speaking engagements for the weekend, I went into relaxed mode (saw a movie—without popcorn—for a real escape). Relaxation aside, I have experienced some very physical, philosophical and spiritual reactions to this fast.

It is not as hard to be around food as I thought it would be except at public gatherings when I do not know what to do with my hands if I am not helping myself to food. That is not such a pretty picture and one I may want to continue to address by learning not to graze and eat at these events just because the food is there.

Reading about food—not deliberately, but because it pops up in lots of articles and books—brings the delight of food to mind and in some cases reminds me of how central it is to people’s lives, which is precisely why they are writing about it.

One of the most fascinating changes that I noticed, in the last day or two, was what it was like to smell good food: when I smelled something good I could actually taste it, and it was as if I were having some of it to eat. That’s instructive, because I imagine this is the way lots of people who do not have enough to eat—particularly those mothers cooking for their children—satisfy some of their cravings.

And surprisingly, I am quite focused in my thinking and able to do all the New York Times puzzles today with an unusual degree of success and speed.

I still have in mind the quote that I mentioned in an earlier post, that seven meals is what stands between civilization and anarchy. It has stayed with me as I read the description from one of our grantees in Haiti, SEROvie, about people fighting in food lines; about women having to take a man with them to food distribution sites because they anticipate being attacked for the food they do receive; about a gay man disguising himself as a woman to be eligible for a food handout (since only women are given food handouts in Haiti).

I think about how much more intense these hunger-caused conflicts will be if Congress goes through with these cuts to the food aid budget—how much more strife will be caused by hungry people desperate to get a piece of an even more limited supply of food aid. We did this fast in the first place and are doing our advocacy work on this issue because the members of Congress want to cut foreign aid and decimate both the food aid and the agricultural assistance programs. It’s so clear that with less food available, more people will be hungry, more children will die. What will penetrate the thinking of these elected officials who are condemning people to death?

I am also interested in the impact that the information about my fast has had on the people who learned about it—many of them telling me that they guess they should be doing something more themselves if this is what I am doing. I hope they will.