Celebrating holidays with mutual aid

The holiday season is a problematic time for so many around the world.

There are celebrations of faith. And, in normal times, the joy of being with family and friends. This year the COVID-19 virus is upending gatherings for so many.

Many of us are uncomfortable with emphasis on material things, gifts.

We are torn, knowing how many millions of people, of children, not only don’t have enough for gifts, but struggle just to continue to try to meet basic needs, as they must every day. Living at barely subsistent levels. How parents feel when they see their children suffer.

The pandemic is causing so much more pain and grief. The failures of a dominant, capitalist system are widely apparent.

I don’t know if in this season, in these times, you are hearing, or thinking “it is better to give than receive?”

One act of giving are many who help prepare and serve food on the day called Thanksgiving. That is a wonderful thing, but highlights the contrast to the other days of the year. Many give to organizations that say they help those in need. There are various degrees of administrative costs of such organizations.

As I have recently been learning about the concept of Mutual Aid, I look upon these things in a new way. The key is the word mutual. As the name implies, mutual aid is about people coming together to help each other. That is completely different from the idea of “us” helping “them”.

Removing the barriers we, often unconsciously, put up that separate us from those we wish to help, is important in so many ways.

Many people write and speak about the problems that stem from our separation from each other all over the world today.

I’ve just recently been blessed to take part in a free food distribution project of Des Moines Mutual Aid. From the beginning I could see how those filling the food boxes expressed the idea of us all being in this together. Those filling the boxes are encouraged to take food for themselves. That is also evident in how those distributing the food interact with the families who drive up for the food. Everyone treats those needing food kindly.

We know it is the system that has failed us all. Not the fault of those in need. That means we are in this for however long it takes to replace these failing systems. Agitating for change is an integral part of mutual aid. One of the projects of Des Moines Mutual Aid is a bail fund, which has provided bail for every activist arrested in central Iowa.

There are so many things so many people are doing to help each other. Any of those things could be mutual aid projects, as long as they are built on the premise of being mutual, not a separation of us helping them.



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3 Responses to Celebrating holidays with mutual aid

  1. winstanding@wildblue.net says:

    Very thoughtfully expressed, Jeff.

  2. peterovisoke says:

    Thanks Jeff. Well expressed.

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