The reason I haven’t published anything for a while is because I’ve been working on a presentation about Mutual Aid that I plan to give when my Quaker yearly meeting, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) meets this week. It’s been helpful for me to organize my thoughts about Mutual Aid, something that’s become the center of my peace and justice work for over two years. I’m glad to have this opportunity to share this work.
I don’t plan to talk about everything on this list of all that is going wrong now. But it is alarming to see how many of these have escalated recently.
- Collapse of capitalism
- Severe drought, floods, heat result in massively diminished food production and famine
- White supremacy
- Spiritual poverty
- Broken political system
- Media as propaganda
- Domestic terrorism. Armed militias.
- Militarized police
- Global militarism
- Movements of millions of climate refugees
- Punishment-oriented judicial system
- Education discourages critical thinking
- Continued commodifying all natural resources
- Continued fossil fuel extraction and burning
- Factory farming
- Broken healthcare
Instead, I plan to use this slide about how we can no longer depend on so many systems now. We’re being forced to find alternatives, and Mutual Aid can be the solution. I hope the presentation will result in more Quakers and others getting involved in Mutual Aid work.
One of the things I’ve been praying about is this statement by my good friend and Mutual Aid comrade, Ronnie James.
Coming of age in the last 1960’s, during the Vietnam War, I saw and was part of the massive antiwar movement in this country. For the past several decades I’ve wondered what happened to the antiwar movement
Then we began to see war coming to the streets of our cities.
- In 2014, we saw militarized police and tanks in the streets of Furguson, Missouri, following the killing of Michael Brown. Friends of mine from Indianapolis went there during the prolonged unrest. A Quaker friend went.
- In 2016 the violent attacks of militarized police against the peoples peacefully gathered at Standing Rock were broadcast across the world.
- At the beginning of 2020, I saw the violent invasion of Wet’suwet’en lands by the militarized Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). And learned similar invasions occurred in previous years.
- Also in January 2020, “Des Moines Mutual Aid participated in a march protesting the potential for war or increased hostilities with Iran that followed the fallout of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by drone strike in Baghdad.”
- Then the world watched in horror as Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by pressing on his neck for nine and a half minutes on May 25, 2020. Prolonged nationwide protests occurred in many cities, including Des Moines. Des Moines Mutual Aid established a bail fund that kept every protestor out of jail.
- Now, militarized police responses have occurred at every protest against so many, ongoing police murders.
- The war is now on the streets of this country, in the communities of the oppressed.
- Now I think of FCNL’s “War is Not the Answer” signs being about these domestic wars.
I agree with Ronnie, “the more we take care of each other, the less they can fracture a community with their ways of war.” Mutual Aid is how we can take care of each other.
Mutual Aid is how we can work for peace and justice now.
War is Not the Answer
These words were taken from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, delivered April 4, 1967 at the Riverside Church in New York.
The message – War is Not the Answer – and the signs went viral. FCNL and Friends saw the potency and popularity of the message grew and spread, and the rest is history. With the increasing prospect for an endless war with Iran, War is Not the Answer, has become more relevant.
Friends and other people of faith act when they see broken systems. As we stand on the precipice of another war, Friends are mobilizing across the country to demand Congress halt the spiral into all-out war.
FCNL has distributed more than 2,000,000 “War is Not the Answer” bumper stickers and yard signs since 2002. Demands for the sign are increasing so we are making it available free online for you to download and print. If you’d like to purchase a lawn sign or bumper sticker, you can do so here.