The Fast Spreads throughout California

Posted by on July 9th, 2006

Saturday, July 8

Saturday at our SF fasting vigil the fasters held an open mike for people to speak out about their feelings on the Iraq war. Sureya was speaking when a mother and her two daughters were walking by and she noticed that one daughter looked very sad so she invited her to come and sign the banner for Feinstein, and they did. The little girl kept looking at Sureya as she was talking about people being injured or killed in the war, so she invited the little girl to speak. When the girl took the mike, she started crying, and the mike was so loud that her tears reached everyone crossing the streets.

The girl said that the war is wrong, that children are dying, and that she didn't want war, that every child has a right to live in peace. Then she hugged Sureya, who also had tears in her eyes. A homeless man commented on the beauty of the writing of this family on the banner, and then he took the mike and spoke out about bringing the troops home from all foreign occupations. Sureya also told me that she met many homeless vets while vigiling on the streets. Our local vigil also aims to connect the local cost of war to our city's inhabitants—looking at our inability to provide adequate healthcare and housing for all because of our enormous expenses on the war.

A group of Bay Area CODEPINKers—Janet, Christina, my mom Karen, and I—drove up to Davis to ignite the spark of the fast there. We set up a booth at the local Farmer's Market with CODEPINK Davis and collected signatures on the Voters for Peace Pledge. We had our photos taken with self-made signs about why we were against the war for a website that documents images of Americans for peace. We talked with many of the produce vendors, including grandma Pilar of “Pilar's Famous Tamales” who told us about how she prayed the rosary until her son came back from his 4th tour of Iraq, and then prayed intensely that he would not have to return for another tour of duty. She affirmed the power of peace and prayer. Many people were receptive to the message, and some people even supported the cause by donating juice! One man, Saleem, who works for East and West Gourmet Afghan Food, was wearing a pink shirt so I asked him if he would take the pledge. He was really supportive of CODEPINK, and gave me a flat bread to eat when breaking my fast. (See photo of Rae and Saleem in this blog)

Well, I must admit that it is one thing to be fasting in downtown SF amidst all the car exhaust, the fast food chains, and the skyscrapers... But it is a whole other thing to fast at an organic farmer's market!! Everything smelled and looked delicious, and the whole time I was walking around with my satin “fasting for peace” sign across my belly, so no food for me! It was tempting, but I actually discovered that there are more ways to experience so much succulent food than just wanting to purchase and eat it. Just knowing it is there, and wanting it to be available for everyone, was a fulfilling meditation.

As the farmer's market began to close, CODEPINK gathered in a circle on the deck overlooking the market and we went around in a circle and shared our reasons for fasting. Then CODEPINK Davis coordinator Natalie passed a loaf of challah bread to my mom, Karen, to symbolically break our fast and start theirs. Natalie and her husband Ben gave us an “Impeach 4 Peace” pink shirt to take back to SF. Then we parted with Marie, who went up to Sacramento to help organize the fast that will start Monday there, and made our way back to SF. Along the way I dropped off our signed Voters for Peace petitions at Elisa's house—Elisa is a mother with two little kids and she's been fasting for several days. Because of work and parenting commitments, she can't attend our vigil, so she offered to help with data entry and typed in all the signatures. This is the ripple effect of this vigil—we are all chipping in in whatever way we can to make this a meaningful and successful action—I have never felt as strong a network of women working for peace in the Bay Area as I do now.

Women in Pink UNITE!
Sunday, July 9

Today, Renay started out the vigil bravely solo. I joined her around 9:30 am just in time to see the streets flooded with women in pink! No, it was not a spontaneous CODEPINK convergence outside Feinstein's... It was the Avon Breast Cancer walk. They were walking right by our vigil, so I put on the Feinstein outfit, and Renay grabbed a stack of flyers and started shouting, “Boobs not Bombs!” at all the passersby. I was quite popular with the marchers, garnering snickers and even getting to take a few photos with the women. They took many of our flyers. When I was getting ready to leave the vigil, Krissy Kiefer joined it. The fast group grew as the day progressed. I went to a doula class that I am taking, to become an assistant to women giving birth, and at our class, which lasted all afternoon, we had a potluck. I decided to break my fast with the women in my class, symbolically nourishing my body as I nourish my vision of supporting women not only politically, but interpersonally as well, and the idea of peace beginning at birth. I have learned through the course of my heart—from relationships to the heartbreak of realizing that the president made no effort at all to collect, or even acknowledge, our Women Say No to War petitions last March—that what is broken creates new openings for greater love and dedication, and I plan to resume my fast in the coming days. After class, I returned to our pink hq here in SF, where I spent the night talking with Sureya about the coming week of our vigil, and outreaching to people around the country about our Troops Home Fast.