While most Americans will be stuffing themselves mindlessly this Thanksgiving Day as usual, 41-year-old humanitarian poet/queer activist CA Conrad has a different menu in mind. The visionary Philadelphia blogger, a committed vegetarian and meditator, proposes a Thanksgiving Day fast supporting peace in Iraq. “What’s life like in Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day,” he writes, “when Americans are busy feasting on pumpkin pie and turkey breast?”
Not a day passes CA Conrad doesn’t spend time thinking about the war. “It’s so hard in this country, in this time …,” he emails me. “I feel like there are so many fronts to fight at home. … ” A few weeks ago, he blogged, “The first few years of occupation seemed to be years where everyone was discussing, attending marches, keeping the fever pitch, spreading the descent [sic]. But on the morning of the third anniversary of our occupation, I remember not moving in bed, just staying still and thinking about the war. … I was worried about the future, was worried about continuing to think, to remember the many lives my tax dollars pay to destroy.”
Offering this painful photograph as grim reminder of the Iraq war’s shameful collateral consequences, he urges, “Let’s shift the purpose of Thanksgiving Day by helping end our war in Iraq instead of feasting and celebrating. To join the protest and read and sign the petition, please click here.”
The Thanksgiving Day fast could be “a way to use a national holiday of reflection, but to turn that reflection on the country itself and what we’re doing now, instead of nostalgia for something that happened hundreds of years ago. And of course we slaughtered the Native Americans we’re also supposed to be celebrating, right? It’s a holiday that needs a new purpose. But I like that it’s already set up to be reflective,” he suggests. “There’s something almost magical about the idea of eating the same foods (for the most part) eaten at the feast we’re re-enacting.
“Now I’m asking people to eat nothing. I’m asking people to know that everywhere around them millions of people are eating that meal that everyone loves and looks forward to, so that we can derail ourselves, our bodies, just a bit, to get right as best we can on what we’re doing to this country so far away. I want to make that distant country come home for a day in ourselves. It’s a personal thing for everyone to do,” he declares.
He also wants folks to write letters to politicians. “I wouldn’t ask fasting people to go out and march, of course. But we can have paper and envelopes and pens set up, with water, stuff like that, you know, make it clean and clear, and give ourselves a way we can be confronting our own lives and be angry at the leaders who make this horror in the world.”
His petition is succinct, sincere, impassioned and heartfelt:
To: Every American
We the undersigned will fast on Thanksgiving Day as a protest against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
We will spend the fast with like-minded friends and family discussing the suffering of the people of Iraq, and how we are complicit as taxpayers and citizens of the United States of America in maintaining the war and occupation.
We will use this time to write letters to members of our Congress, Senate, and the White House, expressing our demands.
We will refuse to consume and/or purchase food items traditionally associated with Thanksgiving Day: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc., and will instead (resources permitting) donate the funds for this celebration to a local homeless shelter, or relief fund for Iraqi citizens, or some other fund which provides resources for those in need. …
In solidarity with those who oppose the United States of America’s war against the people of Iraq, occupation of their land, and theft of their natural resources … we are the undersigned …
“So,” concludes the author of the spectacular 2006 poetry collection “Deviant Propulsion,” released by a major publisher, Soft Skull Press, “Yes, I’d love it if you did a piece on the fast for Iraq. ANY spreading of the word is marvelous! I’m afraid not enough people … are interesting in doing it. Many are excited about the idea, but are committed to family obligations, blah blah, you know. I’m not. And even if I was, I wouldn’t participate; I simply cannot at this point. I’m not even going to buy Christmas presents this year. [Bleep} all the [bleeping] American [bleeping] holidays.”
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