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Some things are worth fasting for!

September 24, 2014

Guest Post by Sarah Wiggins

 Photo by Sean Hawkey – Fast for the Climate – People’s Climate March – Sun 21st Sept


What do Gandhi, the suffragettes and me have in common? We all cared about an issue enough to take part in a political fast. This is a rather self-inflated way to begin a blog, so please let me admit that I am not in the same category as the suffragettes who undertook a hunger strike and were willing to face death, or Gandhi, who was, well, Gandhi.

I’ve joined a global movement of people who are fasting: we’re people who care about climate change and are seeking to collectively have a stronger voice, calling for ambitious action.

The #fastfortheclimate campaign started spontaneously last year, when the head of the Philippines’ government representation, Yeb Sano, moved many to tears when he said that he would fast from food for the two weeks of the UN climate talks.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines and this was linked to the changing climate. As Sano writes, “What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness, the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw… I will voluntarily refrain from eating food … until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

I remember hearing Sano’s words and feeling excited about the possibility in the change he was calling for. Many of us joined him and fasted food during conference hours for the two weeks. People of Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Christian faiths and those without a faith found unity in the shared practice of fasting together. Although I felt dizzy at times, it was a reminder to pause and pray, and although the outcome has yet to be achieved, I’m convinced that this is the start of something.

Since then, thousands of people continue to fast on the first day of every month. Together, we continue to put political pressure on our governments to scale up their ambition to create a safe and fair global climate agreement.

For me, I find fasting helps, to throw off apathy and to act with determination about something I think is worth fighting for, worth being inconvenienced for. It is good for the soul and if done under medical guidance, can be good for one’s health. Somehow, on the days I am fasting, it feels like I am able to pray with greater conviction than usual about these difficult issues.

Fasting has helped me and maybe it will help you too. Will you join me and Yeb Sano in continuing to fast for the climate on the 1st of every month? Don’t worry, if the 1st of the month doesn’t work for you another day would be fine, and if a 24 hour fast is too much, a partial fast, or a fast of something other than food is also good!

Would you join us?

➲ If you would like to sign up and receive my monthly email reminders to fast and prayer suggestions, click here.

➲ If you would like to sign up directly to the global list without those reminders, please sign up here.

Sarah Wiggins is one of the Senior Global Advocacy Associates with Tearfund, and currently focuses on liaising with the US church and US Christian networks to mobilise advocacy and grassroots lifestyle change around climate change and other environmental issues. Prior to this she worked in international policy, carrying out research and lobbying on the issues of climate change adaptation and the Green Climate Fund. She has 3 children and lives with her husband Mike near to Tearfund so that they can both cycle to work. She has recently started two spiritual formation groups in her church and would love to see more start, and is also exploring how to live sustainably as a working Mum in an urban setting.


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