Recently I’ve been thinking and praying a lot about Mutual Aid and #LANDBACK. Two concepts I hadn’t known about prior to 2018. That was the year I began to make connections with Indigenous people. And those became things they were teaching me.
People of faith believe the Spirit can led us, if we pay attention. There are many spiritual practices. Some find organized religious practices work for them. Many find the messages of ministers or other spiritual leaders helpful.
Many Quakers come together to worship in silence, expectantly waiting to hear the Spirit. This might not happen every time. Indeed, there may be weeks, months, or years when one doesn’t have a spiritual leading.
I especially like the sign my friends Alton and Foxy Onefeather carried during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, that said “EARTH IS MY CHURCH”.
The other part of spiritual practice is obedience to a leading. I find little evidence to show someone making changes in their life in response to a spiritual leading. Obviously someone can follow a leading without sharing that with others.
But I am often in situations where people do share things about their spiritual life. May describe a spiritual message they have received. And yet we can’t see how their lives have changed in light of that message. We’ve been told our actions speak louder than words. That how we live our lives should be examples others might follow.
I have observed inconsistencies between our professed beliefs, and how we actually live for my whole life in a very specific way. On a family vacation we went to California, and all of us coughed all the time we were in Los Angeles. The air was foul and limited visibility. This was in the early 1960’s, before catalytic converters. People who lived there told us we would get used to it.
I had a similar experience when I moved to Indianapolis in 1971. Still before catalytic converters began to appear around 1975.
I was led to believe polluting our air, land and water was not just bad policy. It was morally wrong to treat Mother Earth that way. To poison the environment for our children and future generations.
No only did that not make sense to me logically, I discerned it to be spiritually wrong. That meant I could not own a car, among other things. So I did not.
And that was when I saw people not following their beliefs. Almost everyone was concerned about what we were doing to our environment. Would admit we needed to stop the profligate use of fossil fuels. And then try to justify why they had to have a car. “I know we have to stop burning so much fossil fuel, BUT…” What I call “interpreting” spiritual leadings. Trying to force whatever our leading might be, to fit within our lives. our beliefs, as they are. Trying to justify retaining the status quo. The anxiety becomes greater now that we can’t (easily) hide from the multiple, severe consequences of air, water and land pollution.
But it seems the greater the urgency to change, the more resistance to change there is in many cases. The more frantically people hold on to their justifications. The more depressed many of us are, recognizing these great paradoxes in our lives.
None of that is new. What is new is finding the institutions and practices that once worked, at least for white people, are failing now.
Returning to Mutual Aid and #LANDBACK, I’ve seen similar justifications for not working to make these things happen. Fundamentally, they both require a rejection of the mainstream powers in our society today; capitalism and the dominance of white supremacy.
What I’m trying to say, asking us all to do, is challenge ourselves to envision new ways of living together. Put attention on those things we try to justify not doing, even though we know they are the right thing to do. Be completely open to spiritual leadings. Don’t say “but…”
And realize whether we do that, or not, forces are in play now that will continue to upend our lives. Capitalism will not survive the environmental and political changes occurring now. And without those structures, white supremacy will no longer be.
This is the time to find better ways to live. To learn how to build, and live in new communities now. So we can be as ready as possible for the collapse that is coming. And reap the benefits of living in such communities now.