Defend Wisconsin News Round Up

We bring together news links on the subject of Wisconsin politics. For latest political news, follow Defend Wisconsin News Round Up on Twitter!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hunger Strike: Solidarity with Hallis

By Judith Detert-Moriarty - July 12, 2011

Desperate times sometimes cause people to take desperate actions. Today there is a man in Madison, Wisconsin who is demonstrating not only his personal desperation to return Wisconsin's integrity and honor but who is risking his very life for you.

His name is Hallis Mailen. Hallis, a member of Veterans for Peace, has now passed the 28th day of his hunger strike.
IMG_20110710_125844.jpgHunger strikes have a long history rooted in a myriad of nonviolent motivations in almost every country around the globe. Hunger strikes are an extreme act, a drastic attempt to leverage an intractable authority structure, and even a paradoxical demonstration of personal moral strength. They are often initiated in despair by very sincere and earnest concerns about injustices usually involving human rights or politics.

Hunger strikers are not suicidal and they understand their actions have the ultimate consequence. While death from a hunger strike is generally rare, the danger to health and well being is very real. It is no less real for Hallis who is quite ready to commit his life to his endeavor so others might realize the seriousness of the devastating issues of our times. Just as young men continually enlist in the military to potentially give up their lives for their country, Hallis is in a personal struggle no less committed to Wisconsin's citizens and our nation.

Hallis, who served in Korea in 1981 and witnessed "friendly fire" in his first months there, has already sacrificed much for our nation and he continues to be haunted by the personal demons of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Hallis is an educated and talented graphic artist who joined the Wisconsin solidarity efforts in February 2011 as his unemployment benefits ran out. He could often be seen daily in the State Capitol rotunda drumming. Hallis has filed disability claims that have been denied twice. His doctors disagree with this determination. Hallis is not afraid of death.

In one of our first conversations the day before he began his hunger strike, Hallis told me he knows he is not nearly as righteous as Gandhi but his commitment is no less resolute than those of the man who championed India's freedom from the British through a hunger strike.

Hallis' protest is in direct response to decisions and actions by the Governor and Legislature of Wisconsin, as well as the Veterans Administration. His concerns are written on a statement board beside him each day as he sits on the Capitol Square at the top of State Street in Madison. Among those statements are: "Fix the Social Security Administration", "Hold greedy and corrupt politicians and corrupt billionaires accountable" and "Recall Walker and his legion..."

What will be the ultimate outcome of Hallis' endeavor as he offers nothing less than his own mortality hoping it will have tangible meaning and inspire positive changes in Wisconsin for our daily lives?

Like many of us today living in a Wisconsin which we no longer recognize because of complete Republican dominance and the reckless railroading of our state on behalf of their own aspirations and greed, Hallis is desperate. He is also totally resolute. He isn't just protesting when it's convenient. The gravity and the seriousness of the crisis facing our state and nation has been brought home to us all through his actions. He not only jeopardized his life while serving in the military but he has now also committed his life for our state's heritage, integrity, and honor.

Hallis' hunger strike is dictated by his incredible sense of duty to the highest causes; the children, the veterans, the public servants, and the working families of Wisconsin. Although Hallis is not fighting a war abroad with a weapon in hand, he is fighting to stop one here at home through his quiet words and gentle actions. There is nothing outrageous or unreasonable in Hallis' noble demands. They are based in simple human understanding and compassion for those now harmed and "the least" among us who struggle each day for a job, food, housing, and even basic health care.

I urge YOU to demonstrate your resolve and commitment today with Hallis in mind. I encourage you to visit Hallis, sit and talk with him. Sign the banner of support at his feet. Learn that he is a good and decent man. When I gave him a little radio one recent Sunday, he smiled and joked that he truly appreciated this small gift because sometimes it gets tiresome listening to himself talk when others aren't around.

I guarantee you will be moved by Hallis' courage and spiritual faith in spite of the fact his hunger strike has, so far, garnered virtually no notoriety nor media coverage. Hallis is no less principled than Irish Republican Army volunteer Joe McDonnell in 1981 who died on the 61st day of his hunger strike on behalf of Irish independence, the many suffragettes in Britain as well as the US from the last century who were force fed when imprisoned, or the many other political prisoners, dissidents and pacifists around the world.

As noted on Wikipedia, "A hunger strike cannot be effective if the fact that it is being undertaken is not publicized so as to be known by the people who are to be impressed, concerned or embarrassed by it."

Hallis supports you. Your support for him by widely disseminating information to help those of our generation get a better understanding of what has motivated and inspired his endeavor will, as with our military veterans, ensure that those who sacrifice their very lives will always be remember with pride by the very communities for whom they take up the struggle. I urge you consider your commitment in today's conflicts and to take action in solidarity with Hallis even if simply by sharing his story with others. Let the media know they are not doing their job when they ignore his concerns and his perseverance. It is the very least we can do for this Wisconsin hero.

No comments:

Post a Comment