I’ve been broken by the latest calamity, the verification of the remains of 215 Native children on the grounds of what was a residential school in British Columbia. More tragic is knowing hundreds of other Indigenous children died, or were killed, in these institutions of forced assimilation in the lands called Canada and the United States.
I’ve known about forced assimilation for years. But this is raw, because I see how devastated my Native friends are. And I know Quakers were involved in some of these institutions.
The trauma for Native families has been passed from generation to generation. Some of my Native friends have shared how this affects them and their families today. The news has re-opened deep wounds in Native communities. Many have been triggered by this atrocity. One of my Native friends wrote that she was NOT OK. Another told me, “I’m trying not to be enraged in my mourning.”
[see: Time for a Reset]
I’m deeply troubled. I feel caught between my Native relatives and my Quaker community. To the extent that I’ve said I need to “step away” from my involvement with Quakers for a time. Even though I’m not sure what that means, or what will allow me to return.
What I am not getting Friends to see is capitalism is the root of the problem, for reasons I’ve explained in detail elsewhere.
[See: capitalism | Quakers, social justice and revolution (jeffkisling.com) ]
It is frustrating to know all the work, the good intentions of Friends and others, will not lead to needed solutions as long as that work is done within the context of capitalism. [See the diagram below]
What it would take for me to return to Quaker justice work would be for Quakers to see capitalism must be abandoned. And to actively search for alternatives.
I’ve tried to explain this in An Epistle to Friends Regarding Community, Mutual Aid and LANDBACK. If you are so led, you are invited to sign the letter.
We do not have a new story yet. Each of us is aware of some of its threads, for example in most of the things we call alternative, holistic, or ecological today. Here and there we see patterns, designs, emerging parts of the fabric. But the new mythos has not yet formed.
We will abide for a time in the “space between stories.” It is a very precious — some might say sacred — time. Then we are in touch with the real. Each disaster lays bare the reality underneath our stories. The terror of a child, the grief of a mother, the honesty of not knowing why. In such moments our dormant humanity awakens as we come to each other’s aid, human to human, and learn who we are.
That’s what keeps happening every time there is a calamity before the old beliefs, ideologies, and politics take over again. Now the calamities and contradictions are coming so fast that the story has not enough time to recover. Such is the birth process of a new story.
The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, Charles Eisenstein
I am in that very precious, sacred time Charles Eisenstein describes. Abiding in the “space between stories”. The teachings of my Native friends have awakened the honesty of not knowing why.
I invite you to be open to new ways of being, such as LANDBACK and Mutual Aid. And pray we can hold onto the space between stories before the old beliefs, ideologies, and politics take over again. There is an urgency to this.
It is instructive that Eisenstein is expressing the concept of Mutual Aid when he writes “in such moments our dormant humanity awakens as we come to each other’s aid, human to human, and learn who we are.“
What we have is each other. We can and need to take care of each other. We may have limited power on the political stage, a stage they built, but we have the power of numbers.
Those numbers represent unlimited amounts of talents and skills each community can utilize to replace the systems that fail us. The recent past shows us that mutual aid is not only a tool of survival, but also a tool of revolution. The more we take care of each other, the less they can fracture a community with their ways of war.
Once we envision that world our ancestors want for us, finding our role is natural.My friend and mentor Ronnie James, The Police State and Why We Must Resist
Friends express this as seeking what the Inner Light is asking of us.
I urge us to discern whether there are circumscribed limits we might not be aware of, that hold us back from venturing into a new story.