I am currently on Day 8 of a water-only fast on the National Mall in support of Fast4Families, dedicated to the passage of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. I was invited to join by my friends at the Franciscan Action Network, staunch allies in our struggle to stop Keystone XL IN ITS ENTIRETY. Yesterday, I also fasted in climate solidarity with the suffering people of the Phillipines, victims of the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in recorded human history.
As someone who believes all social justice issues are interrelated, and that we are all members of the same human family, I felt moved to take a stand for 11 million of our immigrant brothers and sisters, many of whose families are being painfully ripped apart by an inhumane immigration system that flies in the face of our nation’s immigrant history and the bedrock American value of justice for all. This story in today’s New York Times explains why the majority of Americans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
One of the traditions in our 24/7 fast tent community is for fasters to share the stories of what drew us here with those who visit us in the tent. My story obviously begins with biking 485 miles from Cleveland to Washington, DC to call on President Obama to shut down Keystone XL in TX & OK – meaning many new allies and people in positions to help are quickly learning about this related struggle for justice.
In the past four days alone, we have been visited by Vice President Joe Biden, Gloria Steinem; countless charismatic faith leaders including the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Secretary of Labor; Republicans House members Jeff Denham and David Valadao; and too many others to list here (I’ve lost track how many members of Congress have visited, but they include Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer and my own Congressman Jared Polis). I am seeing with my own eyes how the personal sacrifice of fasters here and across the nation is powerfully moving the hearts and minds of our political leaders, making immigration reform — as Vice President Biden described it to us yesterday — “inevitable.”
I don’t know how long I will be able to physically continue this fast, or how long I can stay in DC, having exhausted all of my personal resources, and more, in fighting the Keystone pipeline over the past two years. But I did take the opportunity yesterday to ask the Vice President face-to-face (see flickr photos here & here) for a meeting to discuss shutting down Keystone’s southern leg. His initial reaction was: “Shut it down?” Then after a brief pause, he told me: “There’s nothing to talk about. You have to talk to the President about that.” So now I know my next ask.
Let me close by sharing this video I made near the end of my ride, announcing a new social movement, one that transcends the environmental movement: “Birthing the Pro-Earth Movement While Reflecting on Life’s Seasons.” I invite everyone who is for the Earth and in favor of clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, healthy food to eat and a climate that supports life to join the Pro-Earth movement. There are no dues to pay, no organization to join, you join in your own heart.
You can take your own stand for aspiring American families by joining the fast!