Having been led to the discovery of something I hadn’t known about, Mutual Aid, and joining in the Des Moines Mutual Aid food giveaway, I’m beginning to see this is how we can find our way through these increasingly chaotic times. Chaotic in terms of both social and environmental collapse.
Regarding environmental collapse, one of the things contributing to our social collapse, I’ve been studying “Beyond Hope: Letting Go of a World in Collapse” by Deb Ozarko. When we talk about the future, we should not waste our energies on hope that somehow we can save our environment.
And so the words that follow are meant to provoke, agitate and shake the very foundation of cultural programming that holds the Soul hostage. I write without apology for the courageous few who are willing to claim their most profound truth by remembering who and what they are, even in—especially in—a world that is falling apart.
The words that follow shine a spotlight on the collective shadow so it no longer lurks in the moldy, dank darkness of the heavily programmed human mind. This is not a book about saving, fixing or changing the world. It’s much too late for that. This is a book about radical personal evolution for the sake of Earth and the Soul—right now.
This book speaks unsparingly to painful truths. It’s written for those who are no longer willing to deny what they already know in their hearts: that we have reached the end of the line. It’s a book written for the warriors of truth who are ready to reclaim the Soul, let go of our broken world, and put love and compassion into action for no other reason than because that is the deepest truth of who they are.Ozarko, Deb. Beyond Hope: Letting Go of a World in Collapse (p. 15). Deb Ozarko Publishing. Kindle Edition.
“I write without apology for the courageous few who are willing to claim their most profound truth by remembering who and what they are, even in—especially in—a world that is falling apart.” The native people I’ve come to know, remember who and what they are. As do my new friends of Des Moines Mutual Aid. My friends at the Kheprw Institute in Indianapolis know and remember. Some of my fellow Quakers do, too. We have begun to explore the idea of Mutual Aid in my Quaker meeting.
The title for this post comes from the article, “THE FUTURE OF PANDEMIC SOLIDARITY. The Pandemic Has Channelled Our Collective Rage And Constructed New Visions Of What Is Possible” by Colectiva Sembrar, Red Pepper. Popular Resistance, October 25, 2020
In their recent book Pandemic Solidarity, Colectiva Sembrar (Sowing Seeds Collective) collected first-hand experiences from around the world of people creating their own narratives of solidarity and mutual aid in our time of global crisis. Following are some of those narratives.
Our process for creating Pandemic Solidarity – grounded in love, horizontality, solidarity and mutual aid – reflects our shared vision of global and local socio-political transformation. Mirroring a process of realisation experienced by those engaged in mutual aid practices, our 20-person collective did not know we shared this vision until well into our process. We developed another vision of who we are: an international collective of mostly women, dedicated to facilitating lesser-heard voices, who are collectively creating a new society through their actions. While there are differences in the experiences in the book, we found a great deal of commonality, and it is that which makes this moment so significant.
Not only do many of those we spoke with feel unrepresented by those in power, the pandemic has further demonstrated they have reason to fear their governments. Governments are not only failing people – in most cases they are the reason we’re rooted in such a deep crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated a history of structural inequality rooted in the intersection of colonialism, racism, patriarchy and capitalism. The people are building concrete alternatives to systems of oppression and exploitation, demonstrating that we are capable of creating a new society, prefiguring it with love, life and sustainable change.THE FUTURE OF PANDEMIC SOLIDARITY. The Pandemic Has Channelled Our Collective Rage And Constructed New Visions Of What Is Possible by Colectiva Sembrar, Red Pepper.
As I’ve begun to talk with Quakers about Mutual Aid, I’ve found it doesn’t take much discussion to get past the initial questions about Mutual Aid, to then find “we did not know we shared this vision until well into our process”.
‘First and foremost, people question the very existence of the state today. If it collects taxes from us, if it erases the debts of big companies at once and for all, and cannot provide the labourers with paid leave in today’s turmoil, and cannot supply basic food and health care, why does it exist? What does the state do other than show us a stick? The links the solidarity networks organise … are seeds for self-organisation in every neighbourhood.’Kadıköy Solidarity Network in Istanbul
‘Communes are the base unit of the political system that we have been building here. As municipalities we coordinate efforts to respond to the people’s needs by collaborating with communes and councils closely and in a circular way. Communes are made up of local residents who mobilise their neighbours and collect information on their specific needs and demands. Commune members then communicate these issues to neighbourhood and district councils as well as our municipal committee. Policy decisions are made through the feedback that circulates among all these different groups.’Qamishlo municipality
‘What the pandemic makes evident immediately is that the current economic and social system is based on a structure of patriarchal, racist and classist exploitation, which causes inequalities that the pandemic has only exacerbated … In our political action, we seek to contemplate the way in which different systems of oppression intersect and legitimise each other .. as well as thinking and acting for the construction of dialogues, affinities and collective action with a view to social transformation.’Oporto (Portugal) based Popular Network for Mutual Support
The state and ruling classes have worked systematically to weave distrust among people but we are seeing that the threads of that distrust were thin and easily broken. Mutual aid is in many of our collective and ancestral memories, we don’t need to learn it, but instead recover it, remember it and enact it. It is through recovering our mutual tendencies that we learn that anything that has been built – even our own subjugation – can be taken down. What we see in these stories today is the emergence and renewal of larger and deeper social bonds that can aid us in creating new worlds, rooted in justice.
We think of the future as an ‘outward spiral’. The stories we’ve heard manifest, in different ways, the sort of society we could have and, in fact, already have. This pandemic is creating small and large fissures, but what we do with these openings is up to us. The new world is already being created. It is up to us to expand this creation, to continue spiralling outwards.
…The question is, how do we deepen and develop these networks to create democratic institutions (see Rojava), creating power from below, and to do so without these institutions being repressed? A fundamental strategic point, learned through mutual aid itself, is that self-organisation helps us to meet our physical and emotional needs, but reimagines these needs and how we frame them. This rarely happens when beginning from a position of demands and a focus on what the state can do.THE FUTURE OF PANDEMIC SOLIDARITY. The Pandemic Has Channelled Our Collective Rage And Constructed New Visions Of What Is Possible by Colectiva Sembrar, Red Pepper.