by Aneesa Khan (Originally posted on The Odyssey Online)
Climate activism burn-out and rediscovering a sense of hope in the movement for food justice.
“Sorry to say this, but as party negotiators, do you think we care about what civil society says or does at these conferences? We don’t have the time.”
“Why are you upset? It’s not even a real fight, it’s one of the privileged”
Complete mental, physical, emotional exhaustion. Activist burn-out.
Etymologically, Credo may have meant to put your heart into something.
And I put my all into it – heart, soul, sweat, tears, time, energy.
To watch fists, fat with money, banging on tables, making deals under them?
To watch vulnerable countries who “had the floor” but were losing their land?
To watch colonialism repeat itself through the jargon of a conquering text?
To watch the sham and paradox that is the division of so-called United Nations?
I had never felt so shot down, so thrown down or so let down.
I had never felt so powerless, so hopeless and so voiceless.
Interacting in an international political space had left me feeling defeated –
I had achieved nothing and I had done nothing that was life nor world changing,
I had witnessed inequity, injustice and incomprehensible mindsets.
I didn’t want to go back.
Etymologically, Credo may have come from Sanskrit – Shraddha, meaning Faith.
I had to take a step back to feel inspired.
What can one be inspired by?
“Remind yourself of why you got involved in the first place,
Remind yourself of people who were let down but still carry on,
Remind yourself that the movement never stops,
Renew your focus, recreate your energies”
I went back to what pushed me to dive into the waters of the justice movement:
I went back to the call of the land, to the call of the struggles for alimentation,
I went back to hear of places with empty bellies, empty calories and full dumpsters,
I went back to see disfigured produce, manufactured seeds, manufactured needs,
I went back to watch capitalism be a thief of land, a thief of lives, and a thief of rights. Above all, I went back to experience people persevere in a losing battle.
Etymologically and currently, Credo means a statement of beliefs.
After a leap of faith, I had to know where my convictions and opinions lie.
Am I not extremely privileged in this struggle?
People on the frontlines of the battle for justice do not have the luxury of giving up,
People who do not know the location of a next meal, job, or home cannot just leave,
It is a harsh reality flung in their faces, they have no choice but to rise up,
There are solutions to the problems presented, they need a grand push.
This I believe, everyone can grow, consume and interpret their food,
This I believe, everyone can live on, cultivate on and protect their lands,
This I believe, people’s cultures, rights and traditions need to be preserved,
This I believe, markets and technology are not the means to an equitable end,
This I believe, governments will not provide the answers, social movements will,
This I believe, it is acceptable to feel burned out, but it is unacceptable to disengage,
This I believe, I fantasize about system change and have the tools to work for it,
This I believe, I am inspired once again to be a part of a solution.