When we speak of the imprisoned protesters in Egypt, many of whom are now, and have been, on a hunger strike, many of us think of the physical pain itself; how hungry you get in the first few days, what you feel as your body starts adapting to the lack of food, and if it’s a complete hunger strike, the body’s slow trip towards finality.
The physical pain is indeed, horrific, and, depending on how you strike, can be fatal, but, believe it or not – it is not the main issue – the human body, in the final analysis, adapts, and the end of this particular ‘adaptation’ is often death.
The real issue here is the mental, intellectual, and spiritual anguish one must feel in order to resort to turning his own body into a megaphone by which he or she hopes to reach society…
It is the anguish of a prisoner, who knows that he is unjustly imprisoned (because a guilty man, a murderer, for instance, does not think of trying to earn your sympathy by starving himself) – and has chosen to use his body to deliver a final message to his society – “You have become beasts” – in the hope, and surely it is a very weak hope, that some of us will listen to this message and feel the stirrings of their conscience, or that enough of us will hear the message and decide to do something.
Going on a hunger strike is surely a desperate measure, because (if the society lacks conscience) it is suicidal – that much is clear. One, then, should ask – what leads a man or a woman to this degree of desperation? What are the differences between the hunger strikers and yourself?
He must feel that he has been betrayed by the security apparatus.
Do you feel trust towards the police?
She must feel that the Egyptian Judiciary has betrayed her, or at the very least, has let her down.
What about you? Do you trust the judiciary?
He must feel that the larger circle of ‘revolutionaries’, those millions who show up sometimes, but who are now nowhere to be seen, have abandoned him. Surely when he’s angry, he feels that they have, in fact, betrayed him.
Do you trust those revolutionaries?
She must feel that the government has betrayed her, that the Ministry of Justice has betrayed her, that here, in her country, the law, and the constitution have become a joke.
Do you feel that there is justice in your land?
He must feel that he’s been betrayed by the media, who hosted him on their shows when his star shone bright, and who are now ignoring him while he is behind bars.
Do you feel that the media has been fair?
She must feel that she has been betrayed by her country….
How do you feel?