I’m concerned to see little progress toward solutions for the myriad of problems we face. Especially with accelerating environmental chaos. We’re paralyzed in the face of so many complex problems. Disheartened because nothing makes progress.
I contend that is because, as Albert Einstein said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
I am proposing we implement new ways to approach our justice work. And will ask our peace and social concerns committee to explore how to change our work from a committee structure to a Mutual Aid group. I’m interested to see how faith can be part of Mutual Aid.
This year’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee Report from my Quaker yearly meeting is included below. And this is a link to An Epistle to Friends Regarding Community, Mutual Aid and LANDBACK.
This diagram lists problems and solutions. LANDBACK, Abolition of police and prisons, Mutual Aid, resource conservation and spirituality. Adapted from the more detailed diagram at the end of this.
This has been a year of great upheaval locally, nationally, and globally. The work of our
monthly meetings has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet we have found
ways to continue our peace and justice work. And had more time for prayer and
Global chaos from rapidly accelerating environmental devastation is highly likely to
occur, breaking down our economic, social, and political systems. As air and water
temperatures increase, water supplies are drying up. Widening areas and severity of
drought are decreasing crop production and forcing people to flee. Rising oceans are
creating more climate refugees. The trend of increasing numbers of more ferocious
wildfires, hurricanes and other storms are expected to accelerate. All kinds of
infrastructure will likely be destroyed, creating more climate refugees, many migrating to
the Midwest. How can we prepare our own communities for these disasters, and plan
for the arrival of climate refugees?
Justice work by White Friends has changed in recent years. An important concept of
justice work is to follow the leadership of oppressed communities, who are working
tirelessly for their liberation. Those who consider themselves White Friends are learning
how to step back. Be supporters and allies.
Many injustices today trace their roots to the arrival of white Europeans on this
continent. These include a whole history of enslavement as well as genocide of
Indigenous peoples. It is important for white Quakers to know we are not expected to
feel guilt or blame for injustices that occurred in the past. But knowing what we know
now, it is up to us to learn more about those wrongs, and work toward repair and
healing. This will be a primary focus of this committee’s work in the coming year.
As a society we have been forced to face systemic racism. For example, public murders
by police have generated sustained protests regarding police brutality, with calls to limit
police powers and change or abolish prisons.
Also dating back to the arrival of white Europeans is the genocide of Indigenous
peoples. The theft of Native lands. And the atrocities of Native children taken from their
families to institutions of forced assimilation, often far away. Places where attempts
were made to the erase their culture. Many subjected to physical or sexual abuse.
Thousands of Native children died. This intentional cruelty broke the resistance of
Native peoples who were trying to hold onto their lands.
The recent validation of the remains of Native children on the grounds of those
institutions is having devastating effects in Native communities and those who care
about them. Searching the grounds of the institutions in this country is about to begin.
Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, has launched a federal investigation into these
institutions of forced assimilation in the US,
A number of Catholic churches, who ran those institutions in Canada, have been
burned or vandalized.
There are renewed calls for truth and reconciliation. Canadian Yearly Meeting has done a
great deal of work on this.
These injustices are some of the effects of systems of white supremacy. The concept of
Mutual Aid is becoming an increasingly used model for communities working for justice.
The idea is to have a horizontal hierarchy, where everyone has a voice. And work to
ensure a vertical hierarchy does not develop. Without a vertical hierarchy, there can, by
definition, be no superiority. Several of our meetings are supporting existing Mutual Aid
communities or considering creating their own. These are opportunities to begin to
disengage from the colonial capitalist system and white supremacy. Ways we can model
justice in our own meetings and communities.
We can show up for Black Lives Matter and other racial justice events. We can support
those who meet with local, state, and Federal government officials. We can show up in
the streets to support agitation for change, train in nonviolent civil disobedience, or
accompany arrested activists through the justice system.
We can show up, when appropriate, at events of Native peoples, such as the Prairie
Awakening ceremony. We can share Indigenous news on social media platforms, so
others are aware of these things.
Indigenous leaders in the Midwest have asked us to learn about and find ways to
engage in the concepts of Land Back. The website LANDBack Friends has been
created and will be updated as our work continues. https://landbackfriends.com/
We pray for guidance for how our committee might work together at the intersection of
our responsibilities and those of Ministry and Counsel.
We will continue to seek spiritual guidance, both for what we are called to do, and ways
to offer spiritual support for those who are not Friends. There is great spiritual poverty in
many communities. Spiritual support will be needed by those who suffer the
consequences of environmental and other disasters. And those responding to these
It is important to understand this work depends on us all working together, in the
community. Outside our meetinghouses. Developing friendships in the local community.
We encourage more engagement with our youth. They can teach us about justice. We
and our meetings will be revitalized.
Many monthly meetings are adapting to these changing ways of doing peace and
justice work. Building relationships with communities of black, Indigenous, and other
people of color. Exploring ways to be in right relationship with these communities. All of
us learning from each other. Sharing our stories. Deepening spiritual connections.
Peace and Social Concerns Committee 2021
Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)