Yesterday I wrote about preparing for a discussion about Mutual Aid at my Quaker meeting this Sunday. Describing the use of queries, and then coming up with an initial series of questions.
Now I’m outlining the major topics to discuss. An hour isn’t much time, and the point of queries is to allow people time to respond to them.
I think I should begin by telling the story of how the Spirit led me to connect with Ronnie James, and how he mentored me about Mutual Aid. And then my experiences of being in that Mutual Aid community. It is important to speak from our own experiences.
What are the main points I want to make?
- We have no choice but to find alternatives since the status quo has begun to and will increasingly collapse.
- The status quo has been very different for different segments of our society.
- This is a chance to build alternatives that are just and equitable.
- This is an opportunity to conserve resources. To move toward living within ecological limits.
- “It is about acknowledging that we Americans have enjoyed middle-class comforts at the expense of other peoples all over the world.” Grace Lee Boggs
- A chance to live with spiritual integrity. Which we must do before we can speak to the spiritual needs of anyone else.
- Mutual Aid addresses the above.
As these graphics explain, there is more than Mutual Aid involved in building the communities we want. Building Mutual Aid communities is a first step because it provides the framework for how a community works together and can address other things like abolition and LANDBACK.
I participate in the Prison Abolition Letter Writing Project that was started in 2018 as part of Central Iowa Democratic Socialists of America’s Prison and Police Abolition Working Group. Several of us from Des Moines Mutual Aid participate in the letter writing project.
And I am a member of the Quakers for Abolition Network (QAN).
We as White Quakers like to think of ourselves as ahead or better than dominant culture, but we have been complicit in a system and mindset that are ubiquitous. Claiming the full truth of our history and committing to repair the harms done are deeply spiritual acts of healing our own wounds of disconnection. I would argue it is the pathway upon which we can, perhaps for the first time, discover and invigorate our faith with its full promise.
What would it mean for us to take seriously and collectively as a Religious Society a call to finish the work of abolition, hand in hand and side by side with those affected and their loved ones? What would it mean for us to stand fully with the calls to abolish the police and fully fund community needs instead? What would it mean to reckon with our past complicity with harm and fully dedicate ourselves to the creation of a liberating Quaker faith that commits to build the revolutionary and healing faith we long to see come to fruition? What would it look like to finally and fully abolish slavery?
A Quaker Call to Abolition and Creation by Lucy Duncan, Friends Journal, April 1, 2021
The next American Revolution, at this stage in our history, is not principally about jobs or health insurance or making it possible for more people to realize the American Dream of upward mobility. It is about acknowledging that we Americans have enjoyed middle-class comforts at the expense of other peoples all over the world. It is about living the kind of lives that will not only slow down global warming but also end the galloping inequality both inside this country and between the Global North and the Global South. It is about creating a new American Dream whose goal is a higher Humanity instead of the higher standard of living dependent on Empire. It is about practicing a new, more active, global, and participatory concept of citizenship. It is about becoming the change we wish to see in the world.
The courage, commitment, and strategies required for this kind of revolution are very different from those required to storm the Winter Palace or the White House. Instead of viewing the U.S. people as masses to be mobilized in increasingly aggressive struggles for higher wages, better jobs, or guaranteed health care, we must have the courage to challenge ourselves to engage in activities that build a new and better world by improving the physical, psychological, political, and spiritual health of ourselves, our families, our communities, our cities, our world, and our planet.Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution