Hunger For Justice

Kannan, Feb 3, 2020

The term hunger is used to convey a feeling that you cannot fight and win; one that will, if prolonged, turn painful; a sense of yearning that is inextricably linked to survival, and for that reason, must be satisfied, or else…

In our grossly unequal world today, even as many of us fight our temptations in order to keep our weight under control, there are many more who go without nearly sufficient nutrition, day after day.

Growing up in India, where people are well aware of the power of Ahimsa (non-violence) demonstrated by Mahatma Gandhi through his own fight against British occupation, I have seen many hunger strikes. People would set up a stage in public space, sit down surrounded by supporters, and continuously announce their demands. It was clear that it was an ongoing crisis for that person, which justified the spectacle — and the spectacle was/is part of the vehicle for forcing action. When you see a man/woman crumble from starvation in front of your eyes, and it seems unending, it is hard not to pay attention.

Marion Wallace Dunlop, a British suffragette whose hunger strike ended (successfully) in 91 hours.
Nathan Phillips, Boston University Professor in the Department of Earth and Environment, getting arrested while protesting the Weymouth natural gas compressor project.

Professor Phillips has been on hunger strike since Wednesday, Jan 29, 2020. His demands are clear and specific. His hunger strike has (as of Sunday, Feb 2, 2020) been going on for over 91 hours.

Mahatma Gandhi went on several hunger strikes in his long fight for Indian independence from the British. His longest hunger strike lasted for 21 days.

Professor Nathan Phillips’s style strikes me as very different. I was surprised to see him last Friday (third day of his hunger strike) show up at a workshop for Geothermal micro-grids. What courage and conviction to his cause he must have in order to go on participating (traveling & learning in this case) even as he denies himself what we all count on: several meals a day, and snacks in between to boot!

Professor Phillips’s hunger strike has now lasted longer than British suffragette Marion Wallace Dunlop’s. I hope he doesn’t have to starve himself much longer of sustenance critical for the human body of flesh and blood, in his gallant endeavor not to starve our society of sustenance critical for humanity’s spirit of justice.

End our starvation for justice!

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