For the last two years during Ramadan – a month spent by Muslims fasting during daylight hours from dawn to sunset – #UKHousingFast has encouraged those who live and work in #UKHousing to fast for a day and raise money for the Trussel Trust. This year, that day is Thursday 23rd June.
I have written before about why I think #UKHousingFast is a good idea; the points of remembrance made in my post Remember Why – those of Gratitude, Dedication, Servitude, and Kindness – still and will forever stand. Fellow Neil and housing blogger, Neil Goodrich, has also written up some Food for Thought about the impending day. Indeed, you can find a host of guest blogs about #UKHousingFast on the official blog.
What all these writings have in common is that while #UKHousingFast – and, by extension, Ramadan – is ostensibly about fasting, there is far more involved beneath this surface understanding.
Fasting, traditionally, was not intended as merely a biological detox. Rather, forgoing food and drink was a means by which our attention could be turned inwards, a kind of meditative introspection, a rare chance to stop rushing about so much and shift our attention to more important matters than sugary satisfaction or frantic financial frivolity. In this safe space of still silence, we are better able to encounter ourselves and gently direct our thoughts away from the ego’s selfish and destructive wants; we ready ourselves for genuine empathy.
Compassion can be scary; it can feel safer and easier to be hard in a hard world. But in a week when tragedy after tragedy has transpired – when mindless, gut-wrenching acts of hate are so despairingly prominent – it is perhaps pertinent we be reminded of the practice and principle of fasting. To take a short time to be thankful for what we would ordinarily take for granted, to think of those who go without; to simply sit and breathe and let go of our ego’s ridiculous self-righteous anger and self-importance. Prayer and fasting are not limited to those with specific religious beliefs – they are universal tools of the soul, and #UKHousingFast is an opportunity to till our spiritual soil.
Whether you choose to fast, donate to charity, or simply take five minutes to sit quietly and reaffirm the virtue of kindness, on Thursday 23rd June everyone in the UK housing sector has the opportunity to come together under a common purpose. We could do with more of that in the sector; indeed, as Joe Cox MP said with understated eloquence in her maiden Parliamentary speech: “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”
You can find out more about #UKHousingFast, including the different ways you can get involved, here.
2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Wikipedia, Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Orlando_nightclub_shooting, Available: June 2016
5 Myths About Ramadan, Beatfreaks, Online: http://www.beatfreeks.com/blogs/5-myths-about-ramadan, Available: June 2016
Food for Thought, The Housing Blog, Online: https://thehousingblog.com/2016/06/14/food-for-thought/, Available: June 2016
Joe Cox maiden speech to the House of Commons, YouTube, Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjK22ho6O5s, Available: June 2016
Joe Cox MP dead after shooting attack, BBC, Online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36550304, Available: June 2016
The Trussell Trust, Online: https://www.trusselltrust.org/, Available: June 2016
#UKHousingFast, Online: https://ukhousingfast.wordpress.com/, Available: June 2016