And the Fast Goes On

By Niaz Dorry
NAMA’s Coordinating Director

It’s day four of the Fast for Fair Food. All week nearly 150 people in Florida and many more outside – including me – have been fasting in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. You can visit the Fast’s website for photos, videos and updates about the happenings in Florida. The fasters have been holding vigils outside Publix’s headquarters, but getting a cold reception from Publix’s officials. Not surprising considering those with power have a hard time letting go of it. But the power of non-violence and grassroots organizing cannot be underestimated.
Fasters hold vigil at Publix
Speaking of power, I received countless words of support, encouragement and inspiration from many of you when I announced I’d be joining the fast. There is power in your support. Before there was social networking, people united in different ways including unseen spiritual and emotional ways. As Heather Atwood said in her blog about the fast “Imagine, emotionally uniting without a tweet?” Your words of encouragement have been a great unifying force. Thank you all, and you know who you are, for keeping me and all the fasters in mind.
One of those who sent words of encouragement was KG Kumar, a friend and fisheries advocate whom I’ve known through his work with the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers. In his email, he sent the following quote from Gandhi:
       “There can be no room for selfishness, anger, lack of faith or impatience 
        in a pure fast… Infinite patience, firm resolve, single-mindedness of purpose, 
        perfect calm, and no anger…”
This quote has played a critical role all week in keeping me focused on why I’m fasting. It has helped me focus differently when thinking about the opposition to our work for fleet diversity, for example. This week and the quote from Gandhi have really helped me set aside my reactions to all the rumors, accusations and misinformation going around about our intentions and to really focus on expressing the importance of our work. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t fasted, and if KG hadn’t forwarded that quote, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to let go of them.
Rumors, accusations and misinformation are, after all, selfish acts in and of themselves. Someone fearing a loss of power spreads them. And it’s just as easy to be selfish in return and want to protect ourselves as individuals. Often that only takes our attention away from the real work at hand and makes us focus on our egos instead.  The fast has helped me let go enough and not give the accusers any more power, and certainly not at the expense of diminishing our own light. It has cemented for me the fact that it’s not about who is right, but what is right.
So the fast goes on, as does the struggle for fair food on land and on the water. But with much more clarity, patience and strength of purpose.