On December 19, 2009, I ended my fast, after 43 days and 11 hours of taking in nothing but water and salt. I posted the following blog later that day.
Could any two words hold more hope than these?
They precede our dreams, our longings, and that which we need to believe.
One day I’ll get that dream job, we say. One day I’ll have that family. They are a prayer, holding us up, and calling us on. Through these words, we fill the unknown future with everything our hearts desire- love, happiness, and security. And through these words, we find the strength to make our dreams come true.
I used to have so many of these prayers. One day I would travel the world. One day I would be a successful musician. One day I would own my own home.
Today, I have only one. Because I know that if this prayer does not come true, the rest will mean nothing.
Today, my only prayer is that one day we will look back upon the current period of history and we will remember a time when the threat of climate change rendered our future uncertain.
We will remember feeling fear as we watched the desperate warnings of scientists ignored by our leaders at COP15, and disbelief as our irreplaceable planet was sacrificed for meaningless profits. And we will remember our frustration as we worked to awaken a world that often seemed willfully ignorant of the enormous danger it faced.
But this will not be all.
I believe that one day, when we look back, we will also remember something incredible. We will remember how our generation made a collective decision to rise as one, all across the globe, and refused to let shortsightedness and greed destroy our future. We will remember that even when the situation seemed hopeless we never gave up, for there was just too much at stake. And we will remember how finally, our movement, once a whisper, grew before our eyes into a roar so deafening that it could no longer be ignored.
On that day, our children and grandchildren will look to us with gratitude. Just as young Westerners pay their respects to the enormous sacrifices made during the great wars, one day we too will be thanked, for doing whatever it took to ensure that our descendants on this earth could have prayers of their own.
I know that this is possible. I have seen for myself that when our message is one of truth, and we are driven by love, justice and compassion, amazing things can happen. Last December, Climate Justice Fast! was only an inkling of an idea in my mind- and I had never organized a dinner party before, let alone an international political action. Yet this past Thursday, over 10,000 people all around the world, including Naomi Klein, Mary Robinson and Bill McKibben fasted for a day for climate justice, inspired by CJF.
So I know that this prayer can come true. But I also know that to achieve extraordinary results, we must be willing to do extraordinary things. To inspire a generation, we ourselves must be inspirational. We cannot afford to wait around for miracles. We must be the change we need to see.
Scientist Tim Flannery was a keynote speaker at the June Australian youth climate conference Powershift. Looking out over the thousand young people present, he asked whether we are really willing to make the sacrifices required to solve the climate crisis.
I know that we are. And by fasting for climate justice we sought to show this to him, and to the world.
Our generation has been handed an unprecedented challenge. But together, we can overcome it. Together, we can mark a turning point in human history, away from centuries of environmental destruction and global inequality, and towards a just, sustainable future.
We must reclaim the future, so that one day it can be filled with all our prayers once more.