Archive for the ‘Gandhi’ Category

Diane Wilson

August 13, 2007

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When I did my first hunger strike on a shrimp boat in Texas in l991, a savvy, environmentalist friend said it was the stupidest thing he had ever heard of. Nobody did hunger strikes in Texas. Maybe in California or India, but certainly not Texas. Another thing, he said, an activist never does what her community isn’t ready for. And my little Gulf coast fishing community was not ready for what I was fixing to pull. Still I sat on a Gulf shrimp boat in Lavaca Bay—two strikes against me– until a local shrimper threatened to threw me overboard if I didn’t get off his dang boat.

I had never done a hunger strike before. I was a woman shrimp boat captain. What the heck did I know of civil disobedience? I grew up in the ’60’s, alright, but I wasn’t a flower child. In the 60’s I was a solitary teen who loved the hot Texas bays and spent half my time sitting in the tide. No wonder I loved shrimping. But there comes a time, as it does in most people’s life’s, when the home needs protecting and the line needs drawing, and anybody who doesn’t act, acts at their own peril. It, also, just so happened, that the orthodox route (working inside the box) wasn’t working any more—surprise surprise– and seemed to be taking us where we seem to be headed. In that instance in l991 in Texas, where our small Texas coastal county was headed was a gigantic petrochemical take over by Formosa Plastics, a notorious polyvinyl chloride polluter that had been kicked out of its home base in Taiwan. Now Formosa was coming to Texas. Or Louisiana. Whichever state treated them the best. And Texas was treating them plenty good. So my hunger strike was a desperate, last ditch attempt to save my home bay.

A hunger strike comes from a different place than the head. It comes from the heart. It isn’t a coincidence that all, or most all, of Gandhi’s hunger strikes were decided suddenly. The planning might have taken some time, but the decision to do it came sudden, spontaneously. Gandhi actually counseled some people not to do a hunger strike and it wasn’t because he thought their bodies couldn’t take it or that they were already too skinny, it was because Gandhi, spiritually man that he was, knew that a hunger strike is all about an inner arena. Gandhi called it ‘soul power.’ I didn’t call it nothing back in 199l— but intuitively (knowing as how I knew myself) I knew that if I thought long and hard about that decision on the hunger strike, a rational cold blooded dancer would take a knife to everything I loved and held dear. And what I loved was the bay and the marshes and the birds that flew over and the fish that swim under that water.

So while I had no resources–things like money and people and media support– I did have myself and a belief in a living breathing bay and so I committed myself to a hunger strike that nobody believed in. That first hunger strike succeeded beyond my wildest hopes. Good enough that folk’s figured a bold man must be behind me somewhere.

Reposted from www.11thhouraction.com

by Diane Wilson

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