Decolonizing, Soul Repair and Mutual Aid

One of the concepts Vanesse Julye spoke about during Quaker meetings last weekend was that in order for healing among groups to occur, there needs to be acknowledgement of the common history among those involved in the trauma. Between those who inflicted the injury, and those who experienced it. These discussions generate strong emotional responses.

White Quakers were among those involved in enslavement. There were also Quakers, including my ancestors, among the white settlers who colonized native lands. In addition, some White Friends were involved in the forced assimilation, the cultural genocide, of native children.

I am beginning to know Tom Kunesh as we work together with a group of Friends on the subject of Decolonizing Quakers.

if we want to decolonize Quakerism, the first step is to bring up just what you’re pointing out – the betrayal of Quakerism’s own core values when/as it took native land for an english colony, settled native land, spoke english on native land, missionized & converted & judged natives to be inferior & lacking & needing improvement to european standards.  the moral injury done to quakerism in assuming it had ‘Light’ and natives did not.  and then the injury done to all the tribes it came in contact with…. both the moral injury to natives and the moral injury to Quakerism itself that i have never heard Quakers address. 

if we are to work on ‘decolonizing quakers’, on ourselves, we should name the historical moral injuries committed in quaker colonizing. 

tom kunesh, Standing Rock & settler descendant

if we are to work on ‘decolonizing quakers’, on ourselves, we should name the historical moral injuries committed in quaker colonizing

Tom Kunesh

I’ve been writing a lot about moral injury since I learned of this concept. see: “moral injury”

Treating moral injury has been described as “soul repair” due to the nature of moral anguish.[17] 

According to Jonathan Shay, the process of recovery should consist of “purification” through the “communalization of trauma.” Shay places special importance on communication through artistic means of expression. Moral injury could only be absolved when “the trauma survivor… [is] permitted and empowered to voice their experience….”. Fully coming “home” would mean integration into a culture where one is accepted, valued and respected, has a sense of place, purpose, and social support.[10]

There are so many benefits of Mutual Aid. One I haven’t written much about relates to these concepts of moral injury and soul repair. A fundamental part of Mutual Aid is that everyone involved is working on issues that affect everyone in the group. Once you have been working in a Mutual Aid community long enough to establish trust, you have equal say in what happens because of the intentional horizontal hierarchy, or the intentional absence of a vertical hierarchy. This provides the conditions for soul repair Jonathan Shay writes about above. Moral injury could only be absolved when “the trauma survivor… [is] permitted and empowered to voice their experience….” In the image below you can see our Des Moines Mutual Aid group is part of the Truthsgiving Collective.

Link to Public Minute on Native Place Names, Nashville Friends Meeting (shared with us by Tom Kunesh).

More about Mutual Aid and decolonizing can be found here: Mutual Aid Discourages Colonized Ideas

Truthsgiving is an ideology that must be enacted through truth telling and mutual aid to discourage colonized ideas about the thanksgiving mythology—not a name switch so we can keep doing the same thing. It’s about telling and doing the truth on this day so we can stop dangerous stereotypes and whitewashed history from continuing to harm Indigenous lands and Peoples, as well as Black, Latinx, Asian-American and all oppressed folks on Turtle Island.

This entry was posted in decolonize, enslavement, Indigenous, moral injury, Mutual Aid, Quaker, race, soul repair, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Decolonizing, Soul Repair and Mutual Aid

  1. Beth Furlong says:

    I value Tom Kunesh’s and your reflections.

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