I fast today in solidarity with the 200 Harvard students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and other supporters around the world. Yesterday they began a five-day fast, calling on their university to cease their endowment’s investment in the fossil fuel industry in the face of global climate change. They have reached this point after a two-year long campaign that has grown to include the support of 70,000 people. Their request for open dialogue has been repeatedly shut down.
Divestment is a tool that has long been used in times of social change, to make a statement about what is or is not a morally defensible investment. I do not see continued investment in fossil fuel extraction as compatible with a livable future for humanity. Such I have over the past two years been heavily involved at my own alma mater, Dartmouth College, with our fossil fuel divestment campaign, working to build support for ridding our endowment of its complicity with dangerous fossil fuel extraction. These campaigns at ivy-covered institutions are not unique, but just two of hundreds of other such initiatives at colleges, universities, towns, churches and non-profit foundations.
Fasting is a chance to disrupt the normal course of my day, to reflect, to be present in the current moment. I disrupt my day in recognition of its systematic links to the chokehold that fossil fuel corporations have on our lives, our democracy, our future. I fast while deeply aware of my privilege to do so while surrounded by a loving, supportive community and nourishing, soulful food. I do not pretend at all today to understand hunger. My fast is trivialized by the knowledge of the reality and unavoidability of hunger for so many of our fellow humans. This privilege that allows me to not eat is the very same privilege I can use to draw attention to the injustice of continued investment in fossil fuels. I ask all those that read this to consider signing on to Divest Dartmouth’s petition at http://campaigns.gofossilfree.org/petitions/dartmouth-college. It is time for us to make this shift. Indeed, it is a moral imperative at institutions so tasked with bettering our futures.
I also have the incredible privilege today to be a teacher, to be able to share and inspire and learn with fellow young thinkers. Just a few months after graduation from Dartmouth I find myself as the Sustainability Fellow at Chewonki Semester School, a place-based academic program in Wiscasset, Maine. This morning in school meeting we heard of coastal flood warnings. Today we aptly study Terry Tempest Williams’ “The Clan of One Breasted Women.” In this work Terry dreams and lives the words of a woman who responds to a soldier’s “call for reinforcements” in the face of her civil disobedience with “we have---and you have no idea of our numbers.” This week, Harvard calls for reinforcements. Last week, Hurricanes Ana, Gonzalo and Trudy screeched across our global skies. I see the weather as a sign that our earth, our mother, our true alma mater, is alive. Storms are her screams. Let us be those reinforcements. Let us be of the number required, filled with the love, the compassion and dedication that is needed. For we are hungry for climate justice.