Notes to myself

This morning I’m seeking guidance for a way to discuss the concepts of, and my experiences with Mutual Aid in preparation for a discussion about that with my Quaker meeting.

Quakers have a long tradition of prayerfully reflecting upon a series of questions, we call queries, to facilitate our discussions of topics like education, social and economic justice, peace and nonviolence. You can see these queries here: Advices and Queries.

The brilliance of using questions stimulates each of us to engage with the topic, whether we speak aloud about our reflections or not. To facilitate reflection and prayer rather than being lectured to.

Developing queries about Mutual Aid to guide this discussion might be the best approach. So, what should the queries be?

We need to discuss:

  • What is Mutual Aid?
  • What are the pros and cons of charity?
  • Why is Mutual Aid not charity?
  • Examples of vertical and flat/horizontal hierarchy
  • What are Quaker hierarchies?
  • What is the state of our peace and social justice work now?
  • What is a beloved community?
  • Is Mutual Aid closer to being a beloved community than our current conditions?
  • Why is Mutual Aid important now?
  • What is the state of our current economic (capitalism), justice, healthcare, education, and political systems?
  • Is capitalism an unjust economic system?
  • What will we do when our community experiences environmental, economic and/or political catastrophe?
  • What will we do when our shelter, power, and sources of food and water are disrupted?
  • What should we do to prepare for the migration of climate refugees to our communities?
  • How can we provide spiritual support for our wider communities?
  • Can we build Mutual Aid groups when people are physically separated?
  • What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of Mutual Aid?

Although many on the list above are questions, they are not necessarily the best expression of the queries for the discussion. I’ll be working on that next.

Change is difficult. It is far easier to maintain the status quo. But our status quo is rapidly unraveling.

The question below, “what will your choice be?” comes from the Wet’suwet’en peoples who are trying to protect their pristine lands and water from pipeline construction. “We make choices as to enter the uncomfortable place of change & movement, or we continue on this downward spiral.” [At the present time the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are preparing to invade the Wet’suwet’en territory.]

“We make conscious decisions to either sit back and watch, or stand up and be heard.
We make choices as to whether protect our future generations, or we allow for a destitute future for them.
We make choices as to enter the uncomfortable place of change & movement, or we continue on this downward spiral.
What will your choice be?
Will you sit back and allow for human rights violations to occur, or will you #RiseUp with us?”


Wet’suwete’n Access Point at Gidemt’en Facebook Page

Embracing Mutual Aid might be uncomfortable for some. Will we have the courage to enter the uncomfortable place of change and movement?

I’ve been working on this diagram to show relationships between the current situation and how Mutual Aid fits into this larger picture. I don’t think there will be time to include much of this in this Sunday’s discussion. But Mutual Aid is one piece of several changes (LANDBACK, Abolition and a better economic system) we need to make urgently.

There are three key elements of Mutual Aid.

  1. Mutual aid projects work to meet survival needs and build shared understanding about why people do not have what they need.
  2. Mutual aid projects mobilize people, expand solidarity, and build movements.
  3. Mutual Aid projects are participatory, solving problems through collective action rather than waiting for saviors.

    Mutual Aid, Building Solidarity during this Crisis (and the next) by Dean Spade, Verso, 2020

6 thoughts on “Notes to myself

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