As I was praying to find another way to explain Mutual Aid to people this morning, I came upon this quotation by Idries Shah. “Study the assumptions behind your actions. Then study the assumptions behind your assumptions.”
The reason I was looking for another way is because it seems how I’ve tried to explain Mutual Aid so far hasn’t really worked.
That quotation brought about what you might call an “ah ha” moment. As a Quaker, I experience this moment to be a message from the Spirit, or Inner Light.
This teaches me I need to find another way to tell the story of Mutual Aid. A way that challenges people to recognize, and move beyond their assumptions.
But beyond that, I see so many things I’ve been led to work on involved challenging assumptions.
- Being a draft resister challenged the assumption that there were “justifiable” wars.
- Living without a car challenged the assumption that individual cars were required for many reasons. Such as getting groceries, going to meetings and events, or getting family members to the doctor in case of emergency.
- Living in small apartments in downtown areas challenged the assumption of owning a home, especially those with luxuries and huge carbon footprints.
- Living simply challenged the assumptions of a consumer society.
- Being involved with Mutual Aid challenges the assumptions of white supremacy and capitalism.
What I am seeing is people have a difficult time understanding Mutual Aid because they make assumptions, unwittingly, that Mutual Aid occurs within the economic and political systems we have grown up in. And assume those systems will continue.
When you first begin to learn about Mutual Aid, you have to explicitly say, internally, “this is not about money and capitalism” and “this is nothing like our political system of white supremacy and vertical hierarchies of power”
It complicates things a bit because we can’t flip a switch and go completely from capitalism to Mutual Aid. As I try to show in the following diagram, as our Mutual Aid efforts grow, we move further and further from capitalism and white supremacy. Until we reach the point where Mutual Aid is completely separate and free from capitalism and white supremacy.
As my friend Ronnie James says
What we have is each other. We can and need to take care of each other. We may have limited power on the political stage, a stage they built, but we have the power of numbers.
Those numbers represent unlimited amounts of talents and skills each community can utilize to replace the systems that fail us. The recent past shows us that mutual aid is not only a tool of survival, but also a tool of revolution. The more we take care of each other, the less they can fracture a community with their ways of war.Ronnie James
mutual aid is the new economy. mutual aid is community. it is making sure your elderly neighbor down the street has a ride to their doctor’s appointment. mutual aid is making sure the children in your neighborhood have dinner, or a warm coat for the upcoming winter. mutual aid is planting community gardens.
capitalism has violated the communities of marginalized folks. capitalism is about the value of people, property and the people who own property. those who have wealth and property control the decisions that are made. the government comes second to capitalism when it comes to power.
in the name of liberation, capitalism must be reversed and dismantled. meaning that capitalistic practices must be reprogrammed with mutual aid practices.Des Moines Black Lives Matter
Here are a number of blog posts I’ve written about Mutual Aid
This animation is a lesson about making assumptions.