I previously described the new publication of Des Moines Mutual Aid.

The publication of MUTUAL AID MONTHLY relates to one of our Points of Unity, political consciousness.

We work to raise the political consciousness of our communities.
Part of political education is connecting people’s lived experiences to a broader political perspective. Another component is working to ensure that people can meet their basic needs. It is difficult to organize for future liberation when someone is entrenched in day-to-day struggle.from Points of Unity, Des Moines Mutual Aid

Political ignorance is one of the main reasons this country is falling into chaos and authoritarianism. People would be less susceptible to falling for cults of personality and understand the threats to freedom posed by culture wars if they had a better education, including critical thinking skills. You might think of sharing MUTUAL AID MONTHLY with others in furtherance of their/your political consciousness. As a resource to stimulate discussions.

Yesterday at our Des Moines Mutual Aid food giveaway, I received a copy of this month’s edition of the Des Moines Mutual Aid Monthly, the third edition available. Below are the three editions that have been published thus far.

Des Moines Mutual Aid Monthly

March 2023

April 2023

May 2023

Mainstream and Margins

Are you part of the mainstream, or on the margins?

Reference is often made to marginalized groups or peoples. My friend Jed Walsh recently wrote, “I’m tired of being in the margins of a Quakerism that’s clinging to the status quo, and hoping to find other places to practice faith and spirituality where I can feel more aligned with others.

I hadn’t thought of myself in terms of being on the margins until I read that. Quakers are usually on the margins of society, almost by default. But Jed brought into focus that he and I are on the margins of Quakerism today.

The Mainstream and Margins exercise below might be helpful for those in the mainstream to learn about those of us on the margins and what our concerns are.

Thus mainstream/margin invites curiosity and flexibility, asking the question what is going on in this group now. Organizers then make thoughtful choices about when a mainstream needs assistance in recognizing and re-negotiating its relationship with one of its margins.

One of the great things about Mutual Aid is the intense focus on preventing hierarchies, with the intent to prevent anyone from being marginalized.

The following describes the Mainstream and Margins exercise.

The goals of the exercise are:

  • To assist participants to identify with both marginal and mainstream roles that they play in society.
  • To boost awareness of the oppressive characteristics of the mainstream role.
  • To gain hope through identifying how they can support social change while in a mainstream role.
  • To practice the skills of an ally.

Activist and nonviolence trainer Daniel Hunter has come up with a helpful exercise called Mainstream and Margins. This is great for activist groups because it doesn’t rely on jargon or overly complicated theories, so it can be used in groups with a diversity of viewpoints or education levels. It also overcomes the mistake of presenting relatively static identity characteristics like age, gender, or religion as though they automatically explain group dynamics. Note, though, that the exercise is challenging and so is best done with a skilled facilitator.

No matter how homogeneous a group or an organization believes itself to be, a careful look shows that some characteristics are marginalized. A group known for vigorous and noisy debates has some quiet members. An organization which believes itself to be bureaucratically efficient has a couple of members who would love to cut corners. A solemn and highly disciplined group includes a few who, out of sight, love to party. The mainstream of a group sets the tone, sets the communication style, and gets to have its own preferences accepted by the margins. Awareness of this dynamic creates choice points for organizers and facilitators who may or may not cooperate with the system. …

Rather than viewing oppression as static (i.e. this group is always oppressed), organizers and activists can be aware of the complexities of this unique group. E.g. while society oppresses women in the larger society, an activist group might have a mainstream of women who unintentionally marginalize non-women in the group. …

Thus mainstream/margin invites curiosity and flexibility, asking the question what is going on in this group now. Organizers then make thoughtful choices about when a mainstream needs assistance in recognizing and re-negotiating its relationship with one of its margins. The mainstream is not about numbers—but it is about who has their interest recognized. So, for example, even in a group where most of the group has chronic medical conditions, the norm might be: we don’t acknowledge our conditions. …

Instead of making value judgments about how oblivious the mainstream is, accept it as one accepts the law of gravity. Then go ahead and assist the margins to express themselves and assist the mainstream to hear them.

Instead of a checklist of diversity items to look for—e.g. race, class, gender, sexual orientation—you can look freshly at each group to see how is mainstream behavior playing out.

The exercise, then, is about what is normal and accepted within a group and what is marginalized. All groups will marginalize behaviours and ideas, and that can be beneficial (e.g. respect is mainstream, screaming at each other is marginalized) so long as it’s done with enough communication and space given to know what the margins are and to hear from them. For conversations about the mainstream and margins to go well, groups need to create conditions of enough safety and trust that people feel able and ready to speak up.

Being a Quaker, Being an Activist by Canadian Friends Service Committee, 2023

“Mainstream and Margin,” Training for Change,

Daniel Hunter, “Mainstream/Margin in Groups: A Practical Approach to AntiOppression Work,” Training for Change, 2009,

We invented this in response to trainers asking us: what do you do with a group that is genuinely clueless about its racism (sexism/homophobia/etc.)? We found it works with low-consciousness groups and has tremendous value for experienced activist groups, too.

Training for Change

Spiritual Activism 2

Previously, in Spiritual Activism, I referred to an article from the Pachamama Alliance, part one of a three-part series, Spirit in Action. Following is a continuation of what Pat McCabe said during Part 1.

Pat talks about learning how to let go of what is thought of as “rational” and “logical”. It used to irritate me when people would suggest that scientists (like me) have trouble believing in spirituality, implying since things of the Spirit could not be proven by the scientific method, we might not believe in the Spirit. I have heard medical colleagues say the (scientific) complexities we work so hard to understand convince them there must be a higher power.

But as she says, “Spirit rationale is different from academic rationale.”

The Challenge of Embracing Spiritual Wisdom

Pat (McCabe) made it clear that listening to and being guided by spirit is challenging work that takes practice.

As Pat pointed out, spirit rationale is different from academic rationale, which is why it can be so difficult to know how to listen to spirit. She went on to describe her own personal journey of learning how to let go of what is typically thought of as “rational” and “logical,” and instead embrace the wisdom of spirit. She acknowledged that she didn’t learn to do so of her own accord. Rather, Pat learned how to do this through what she calls “forced surrender” during a time when she was experiencing loss in her life. Despite the difficulties she was experiencing, Pat continued to engage in ceremony, through which she was able to learn how to be in a state of receptivity and trust spirit to guide her.

Spirit in Action, Part One: A Conversation with Woman Stands Shining by the Pachamama Alliance, FEBRUARY 10, 2023

the consciousness that is the root cause of injustice for the planet is the same consciousness that is the root cause of injustice for people. And this consciousness is connected to the ways in which humanity has claimed supremacy over the planet and all life while placing everything—including each other—in a hierarchy

Reverend Deborah Johnson

Part two of the Spirit in Action series is a conversation with Reverend Deborah Johnson. I really appreciate her description of the root cause of injustice for the planet being the same consciousness that is the root of injustice for people. And that root cause is hierarchy, which comes from the concept of supremacy.

This is why I’m so invested in Mutual Aid because it is about having no hierarchy. Which avoids many of the problems that occur in groups organized with hierarchies. Problems related to power relationships and authority.

How Relationships Are at the Center of Spirit and Justice

Rev. D (Reverend Deborah Johnson) began the conversation by reframing Pachamama Alliance’s 3-part mission around environmental sustainability, spiritual fulfillment, and social justice. 

She reflected on how people often relate to the three parts of the mission as three “pillars,” but this actually reinforces a sense of separation between sustainability, spirit, and justice. As Rev. D put it, “pillars” by definition are separate and do not intersect. But she sees sustainability, spirit, and justice as innately interdependent, inseparable parts that can’t exist outside of their connection to the whole.

Rev. D went on to explain how the consciousness that is the root cause of injustice for the planet is the same consciousness that is the root cause of injustice for people. And this consciousness is connected to the ways in which humanity has claimed supremacy over the planet and all life while placing everything—including each other—in a hierarchy. 

Rev. D made it clear that relationships are at the center of spirit and at the center of justice, and that injustice for the planet and social injustice are the result of “poor relationships” rooted in these constructs of supremacy and hierarchy. 

Spirit in Action, Part Two: A Conversation on Spirit and Justice with Reverend Deborah Johnson by the Pachamama Alliance, MARCH 01, 2023

Rev. D then discusses why many people do not have spiritual fulfillment today.

She explained how many people relate to spiritual fulfillment as a “byproduct” that comes as a result of achieving justice and environmental sustainability. But, Rev. D is encouraging everyone to think the inverse, that starting with spiritual fulfillment is what leads to justice for people and for the environment. 

She went on to explain why many people today feel a lack of spiritual fulfillment. As Rev. D put it, people see widespread environmental degradation and social injustice, and wonder how they could have “any kind of spiritual fulfillment in a world like this.” She described this experience as people making their connection to spirit conditioned upon “what humanity is doing in its amnesia, in its lack of recognition of relationship.” 

Rev. D warned that obtaining spiritual fulfillment won’t be possible if it’s dependent on human behavior in this way. Instead, Rev. D asserted that starting with spiritual fulfillment and the belief in the inherent interconnectedness of all life—and putting that into action—is the pathway to achieving justice for people and the planet. 

Spirit in Action, Part Two: A Conversation on Spirit and Justice with Reverend Deborah Johnson by the Pachamama Alliance, MARCH 01, 2023

The third part of this series, Spirit in Action, is a video found here:

Wednesday’s recording of Resilience and Possibility is ready for you to review or share. It is the third–and final–in a series around spirit in action. Our discussion touched on the relationship between inner peace and activism, and how spiritual practice increases our capacity to bring clarity and love to our activism as we push back against injustice.

We used a recording of Rev. angel Kyodo Williams as inspiration to delve deeper into how we can use spirit to further our commitment to bring forth more justice and sustainability into the world. Enjoy! 

Spiritual Activism

Justice work has changed significantly for me.

  • I grew up in Quaker communities, which defined my justice work for much of my life.
  • Then a decade ago, I was led to work in communities outside Quaker meetings.
    • (NOTE: “To be led” is a way of expressing Spiritual leadings).
  • These experiences have taught me quite different approaches to justice work.
  • These new perspectives also show me many of us Quakers, particularly White Quakers, need to change how we think about and do justice work.

Spirituality and social justice are often viewed as separate entities, but they can be deeply intertwined. Spirituality refers to a person’s relationship with the divine or higher power, while social justice is concerned with ensuring that all individuals have equal access to basic human rights and opportunities. Individuals tend to fall along the spectrum between emphasis on spirituality versus emphasis on social justice. There are some who do not believe they need to engage in social justice work.

Spiritual activism is a practice that brings together the otherworldly and inward-focused work of spirituality and the outwardly focused work of activism (which focuses on the conditions of the material or physical world). It is most often described as being separate from organized religion or dogma, but rather as activism that is generally egalitarian, particularly in service for people who are oppressed or marginalized, as well as for the Earth and all living things1.

Spiritual Activism, Wikipedia

Some of these blog posts take days to write. Sometimes when things feel unfinished, a missing piece will appear. From the Spirit, or something someone else wrote or did. I came across the following this morning.

On October 5, Diné Ceremonial Leader Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe) joined the global Pachamama Alliance community for a conversation on spirit in action. Pat McCabe is a mother, activist, writer, artist, international speaker, ceremonial leader, voice for global peace and healing, and long-time advisor to Pachamama Alliance. 

During the call, Pat offered many insights around what it means to take action while being guided by spirit, drawing from both her Diné background and the Lakota spiritual tradition. She shared key learnings from her own personal journey around this inquiry, while illuminating important nuances around the concepts of agency and intellect. 

The Importance of Surrendering to Spirit

As Pat was reflecting on how to take action while being guided by spirit, she explained that the first step is to surrender to the unknown. 

What Pat meant by this was to let go of the need to know everything and the need to have the answer—or even the idea that one can know everything. She explained that when one is at the limits of what one knows, that’s when spirit reaches into the mind and body to present something new. 

One of the ways this is experienced in some of the spiritual communities Pat is a part of is through fasting. During these fasts, participants must go 4 days without food or water as they engage in ceremony.* Pat described how it doesn’t feel humanly possible to complete this fast, unless one embraces the unknown and the possibility of failure. This is what allows one to keep going even if the way forward is unclear. And as Pat put it, it is at this point that spirit comes to meet you and carry you the rest of the way. 

What these ceremonies have taught Pat is to surrender her will to spirit so that the door to mystery opens, and a different kind of logic and perspective reveals itself.

Spirit in Action, Part One: A Conversation with Woman Stands Shining by THE PACHAMAMA ALLIANCE, FEBRUARY 10, 2023

*Pachamama Alliance is not promoting fasting or other similar activities, especially without the guidance of experts. Please consider consulting with your physician or other medical professionals if activities like this are of interest to you. 

it is at this point that spirit comes to meet you and carry you the rest of the way. 

Diné Ceremonial Leader Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe)

One example of my spiritual activism was when I became involved in the Kheprw Institute, a Black youth mentoring community in Indianapolis. That coincided with becoming involved with the Quaker Social Change Ministry (QSCM) model for justice work.

Quaker Social Change Ministry (QSCM)

At that time, I learned about a new American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) program. My friend Lucy Duncan oversaw the program. The Quaker meeting I was attending in Indianapolis, North Meadow Circle of Friends, participated.

AFSC provided training for those involved in QSCM, which is where I learned a lot about community organizing. (SEE:

Training such as this can be an important part of learning to work for justice. As another example, in 2013, I was trained as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, which was about teaching local people how to participate in civil disobedience. Experienced activists from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) traveled to twenty-five cities, providing a weekend of training in each city.

Working in diverse communities has given me new perspectives about Quakers and justice work and has led to questions.

  • What role does spirituality play for people and groups not involved in organized religion?
  • How are Quakers involved in justice work today?
    • How are justice concerns identified?
    • What are the primary justice concerns of Quakers, individually and of Quaker meetings?
    • Are Quaker meetings doing justice work as a meeting?
    • How do Friends work to address those justice concerns?
    • What are the different ways to work for justice?
  • How do Quakers balance spiritual life and doing justice work?
  • How do we support each other, and the meeting’s justice work?
    • How do we hold each other accountable?
    • How do Quaker individuals and meetings deal with historic injustices Quakers were involved in?
    • How do Quakers engage with those who have been subjected to historic injustices Quakers were part of?
  • How do we identify and work to heal from trauma?


I grew up in the Bear Creek Quaker community near Earlham, Iowa. Raised on farms, we then began to move often as Dad moved through the Farm Bureau/Farm Service system. Most of these places didn’t have Quaker meetings. I attended Scattergood Friends (boarding) high school and then Earlham College, a Quaker college.

After one year at Earlham, I moved to Indianapolis to join the Friends Volunteer Service Mission (VSM). This was in the early 1970’s, at the time of the Vietnam War. VSM was a project to provide meaningful work for young men doing alternative service for the Selective Service System. Although being a draft resister meant I refused to do alternative service “officially”, as far as the Selective Service System was concerned, I was led to join VSM to learn about doing justice work in communities. VSM had a model of doing one year of work in a job that would qualify as alternative service, saving enough money to support yourself to work in the community for the second year. Living in the community, I had time to see what community needs I might work on during that second year. During the first year I received on-the-job training at Methodist Hospital as a respiratory therapy technician. I spent my time outside my work in the hospital with kids in the neighborhood. There were no youth programs in that part of inner-city Indianapolis. I spent my second year continuing to work with the kids. Playing sports, taking bicycle trips, teaching how to work in a photo darkroom, etc.

So, at an early age (20), I began to learn about community organizing and spirit-led justice work. I was led to this work while praying and working to discern how I would respond to the requirement to register for the Selective Service System and whether to accept doing alternative service. These are related to the broader issues of peace and living in a violent and militaristic country. Learning what the Quaker way would be for me.

Although I returned to Iowa after completing the two years at VSM, I missed the kids so much that I returned to Indianapolis. I continued to do things with youth as I did at VSM while I continued my education. I enjoyed working as a respiratory therapy technician during my first year at VSM. When I returned to Indianapolis, I found a job at the Indiana University Medical Center as a respiratory therapy technician. I obtained a degree in Respiratory Care from Indiana University and became a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

So, this leading to join VSM led to my career path in medicine, and my path of justice work.

Community building

I have been blessed to be led to new communities of people over the past decade or so. These experiences taught me more about justice work. And have taught me some different answers to questions such as these:

  • Who is the community?
  • How to identify what issues to work on?
  • How to address the issue(s)?
  • How to measure progress?
  • Accountability?
  • How to heal?

In the community

The following are some of the communities I have been/am now involved with.

  • The youth mentoring community, the Kheprw Institute, in Indianapolis.
  • The environmental/pipeline resistance communities in Indianapolis and Iowa.
    • Being trained as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance in 2013, I received invaluable training in activism. That was also my first experience in being part of an Internet community, learning ways to support each other remotely. This included monthly phone calls with everyone involved.
    • In 2016 there was national/international support of those at Standing Rock opposing the Dakota Access pipeline.
      • Locally, in Indianapolis, we were able to use our training and experience from the Keystone Pledge of Resistance to organize and train people to oppose the DAPL.
      • This included my first experiences of being with Indigenous peoples at public rallies.
    • In 2017 I retired and returned to Iowa and began to look for environmental activists to work with here. The Internet was helpful in finding groups and events. I had heard of Ed Fallon’s work related to climate justice. We communicated via email, then in February 2017, I met Ed when he organized a group of us to go to Minneapolis the weekend the Super Bowl was played there, to hold a rally at the US Bank headquarters, because of their support of DAPL.
    • Sept 1-8, 2018, I participated in the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March organized by Bold Iowa (Ed Fallon and others) and Indigenous Iowa (Sikowis Nobiss and others). A group of about thirty native and nonnative people walked and camped along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline, from Des Moines to Fort Dodge).
      • The intention of the First Nation-Farmer march was to create the time and space for us to get to know each other, to begin to develop some trust so we could work together. That worked exceedingly well, and various combinations of us have done many things since.
    • Last year the Buffalo Rebellion was formed as a coalition of many of the climate/social justice groups and people in the Midwest.
  • For the past three years most of my justice work has been with Des Moines Mutual Aid, where I’ve made a number of close friends.

Choosing the work

There are so many injustices, so many people suffering. How do you decide what to do?

As a spiritual person, as a Quaker, seeking spiritual guidance is fundamental to discerning what I am led to do. One reason I’m writing this post is that I’ve been wondering what role spirituality plays in the lives of many of my friends who are deeply involved in justice work. One’s spirituality can be expressed by one’s work in the world, and these friends work tirelessly for justice. But I don’t know what they think or believe regarding spirituality.

One important aspect of Mutual Aid is that most Mutual Aid communities focus on providing for people’s basic necessities, such as food and shelter. For example, my Mutual Aid community provides free food every week for those who come to us. Others in my Mutual Aid community care for houseless people in Des Moines. The gratification of helping those in need helps attract others to participate.

There are many historical examples of tragedies that occurred when well-intentioned people attempted to provide help to those in need. Unfortunately, too often, support came/comes from dominant groups who view solutions as controlling those deemed to need help. Another way of assimilating other peoples into their own (dominant) worldview. I use assimilate intentionally because one example is of white settler-colonists forcibly removing Indigenous children from their families and taking them to residential schools to learn how to live in white society. These schools were awful institutions where abuse and deaths of children occurred. And the trauma to their families and communities is still passed from generation to generation.

I’ve been exploring how Artificial Intelligence can help as a research assistant. Following is the response when I asked for a table summarizing the advantages and disadvantages of spirit-led social justice work. But I must say I am very concerned about the impact AI is having and will have in replacing human jobs.

Paradigm shift

Recently, we discussed our peace and justice work at my Quaker meeting. I explained my vision of creating a Mutual Aid community to guide our justice work. And included examples of what the meeting is already doing that are Mutual Aid.

I felt we had a good discussion. I didn’t have answers to some of the questions raised. I believe those questions would be answered as we got experience with implementation. But the meeting is clearly not ready to begin working on Mutual Aid.

As I was preparing for this discussion, I knew it would be difficult to distill my more than three years of experience with Des Moines Mutual Aid (DMMA).

Paradigm shift: an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Mutual Aid represents a paradigm shift in Quaker’s thinking about spirituality and justice work. How can I help people make this shift happen? What is the Spirit asking of us?

I have no doubt that the Spirit leads me to continue with my involvement with Des Moines Mutual Aid. My friends there know I hope to bring spirituality into the work of Mutual Aid, so I’ll give them an update on our meeting at Bear Creek.

One paradigm shift from my past comes to mind. In the early 1970’s I moved to Indianapolis and was horrified by the foul air from auto exhaust. I was led to live without a car as a result. But I had no success in convincing anyone else to give up their car. So here we are now, facing ever increasing environmental chaos.

During the years’ long struggles with my meeting about cars, which was difficult since many meeting members lived in rural settings, one Friend asked if I had invited the meeting into my concerns about cars. And I realized I had not done so. When I did invite the meeting to join me in our common concerns about fossil fuels, one thing we developed was a concept we called Ethical Transportation (see below).

So, I applied that idea to invite the meeting into Mutual Aid work. I often share my experiences at Des Moines Mutual Aid with the meeting. Our discussion this past weekend is another step that will lead to Mutual Aid. As more communities and people are impacted by environmental and social chaos, we will naturally turn to the idea of Mutual Aid for disaster relief.

I am impressed with the Great Plains Action Society’s Mechanism of Engagement. Mutual Aid is one of the Methods in the model. I wonder what such a model would look like for Quakers. Maybe that is part of the way forward, for my Quaker meeting to become more oriented toward Mutual Aid.

Ethical Transportation Minute

Radically reducing fossil fuel use has long been a concern of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). A previously approved Minute urged us to reduce our use of personal automobiles. We have continued to be challenged by the design of our communities that makes this difficult. This is even more challenging in rural areas. But our environmental crisis means we must find ways to address this issue quickly.
Friends are encouraged to challenge themselves and to simplify their lives in ways that can enhance their spiritual environmental integrity. One of our meetings uses the term “ethical transportation,” which is a helpful way to be mindful of this.
Long term, we need to encourage ways to make our communities “walkable”, and to expand public transportation systems. These will require major changes in infrastructure and urban planning.
Carpooling and community shared vehicles would help. We can develop ways to coordinate neighbors needing to travel to shop for food, attend meetings, visit doctors, etc. We could explore using existing school buses or shared vehicles to provide intercity transportation.
One immediately available step would be to promote the use of bicycles as a visible witness for non-fossil fuel transportation. Friends may forget how easy and fun it can be to travel miles on bicycles. Neighbors seeing families riding their bicycles to Quaker meetings would have an impact on community awareness. This is a way for our children to be involved in this shared witness. We should encourage the expansion of bicycle lanes and paths. We can repair and recycle unused bicycles and make them available to those who have the need.

Ethical Transportation Minute. Approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2017

Eyes of the Future

How can Friends achieve the 2022 theme of World Quaker Day, “Becoming the Quakers the World Needs,” while functioning in a blatantly and politically corrupt, racialized world?

Black Quaker Project


These are times of upheaval, with greater changes rapidly approaching. Times of uncertainty and fear. These are also times of opportunity. Can we use this collapse to envision and build more just communities?

I believe we can. But first, we need to understand the injustices the capitalist economic system is based upon. And use this understanding to guide the development of mutual aid communities. which reject capitalism.

It is difficult to escape the status quo. But that is the only way we can protect and heal Mother Earth and build communities for future generations. The status quo in this country is about preserving the capitalist economic system and White superiority. Maintaining the status quo will only deepen environmental devastation and collapse. And collapse of the systems built on capitalism.

The eyes of the future are looking back at us, and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come.

Terry Tempest Williams

The Seventh Generation Principle is based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.

Climate Justice March, Des Moines, Iowa



I’ve had my own experiences of looking back and trying to help people “to see beyond our own time“. Over fifty years ago, I moved to Indianapolis, a big change for a farm boy. I was not prepared for the noxious clouds of auto exhaust enshrouding the city. I was led to live without a car. Of course, that was not the status quo.

Looking back to that time, I feel sorrow for what might have been. How different the world would be if we had rejected the car culture in this country. Our cities and towns would have been built to be walkable. Land would not be covered by asphalt and concrete. Most importantly, we would have been able to live in a sustainable manner and would not be on a path toward extinction.

Looking back now, who doesn’t wish we had rejected the car culture in this country? Wish we had not let banks and fossil fuel companies rape the earth?

If those who lived prior to the rise of the car culture could have visited our world today, to see the disastrous consequences we are dealing with now, I believe many people who lived then would have chosen to live a different (sustainable) lifestyle.


Wealth is attended with power, by which bargains and proceedings, contrary to universal righteousness, are supported; and hence oppression, carried on with worldly policy and order, clothes itself with the name of justice and becomes like a seed of discord in the soul.

John Woolman, “A Plea for the Poor.”

As the sign in the photo above says, Colonial Capitalism = 7th Generation Genocide

Despite trying every way I could think of, regardless of my prayers, I was not able to convince others to give up their car. People chose convenience over care for Mother Earth and future generations.

It is the same when I urge others to build alternatives to capitalism. Those who are comfortable economically strongly resist any suggestion to abandon capitalism. Capitalism is the materialism Martin Luther King warned about. “The giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism”.

How has hunger for millions become acceptable? Houselessness? Lack of access to medical care? Police brutality? Locking people away for years for nonviolent crime? Profligate consumption of nonrenewable fossil fuels? Poisoning water?

As Americans honor King on his birthday, it is important to remember that the civil rights icon was also a democratic socialist, committed to building a broad movement to overcome the failings of capitalism and achieve both racial and economic equality for all people.

Capitalism “has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes,” King wrote in his 1952 letter to Scott. He would echo the sentiment 15 years later in his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?: “Capitalism has often left a gap of superfluous wealth and abject poverty [and] has created conditions permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few.”

In his famous 1967 Riverside Church speech, King thundered, “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

“What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter,” King is widely quoted as asking, “if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?” In King’s view, the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, the voter registration drives across the South and the Selma to Montgomery march comprised but the first phase of the civil rights movement. In Where Do We Go From Here, King called the victories of the movement up that point in 1967 “a foothold, no more” in the struggle for freedom. Only a campaign to realize economic as well as racial justice could win true equality for African-Americans. In naming his goal, King was unflinching: the “total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty.”

THE FORGOTTEN SOCIALIST HISTORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. By Matthew Miles Goodrich, In These Times, January 16, 2023


What will the eyes of the future see when they look back upon us today? How will they feel about the state of the world we are leaving them?

What are we willing to do now to make the world a better place for ourselves and future generations?

Will we:

  • Radically reduce our fossil fuel consumption?
  • Continue to build renewable energy infrastructure?
  • Resist false solutions such as carbon capture?
  • Reject capitalism?
  • Reject White superiority?
  • Build Mutual Aid communities?

There is an urgent need for reflection on these questions. And to seek and implement ways to answer them.

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 Liberation

“Quakers will only be truly prophetic when they risk a great deal of their accumulated privilege and access to wealth. Prophets cannot have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Any attempt to change a system while benefiting and protecting the benefits received from the system reinforces the system. Quakers as much as anyone not only refuse to reject their white privilege, they fail to reject the benefits they receive from institutionalized racism, trying to make an unjust economy and institutionalized racism and patriarch more fair and equitable in its ability to exploit. One cannot simultaneously attack racist and patriarchal institutions and benefit from them at the same time without becoming more reliant upon the benefits and further entrenching the system. Liberalism at its laziest.”   

Scott Miller

How can Friends achieve the 2022 theme of World Quaker Day, “Becoming the Quakers the World Needs,” while functioning in a blatantly and politically corrupt, racialized world? In engagement with this exciting theme, offered by the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), the Black Quaker Project would like to remind Friends of the tools at our disposal to challenge those aspects of society which we wish to change and to see changed. Our fractured societies are further divided by enormous gaps of inequality in almost every imaginable category—psychological, social, political, cultural, economic. How might we, as Quakers, achieve justice, equity, and peace under these circumstances? 

Black Quaker Project

New Perspectives

I grew up in Quaker communities, which defined my justice work for much of my life.

Then a decade ago I was led to engage with a number of communities, working outside Quaker meetings. By engagement I mean spending significant time in these communities. These experiences have taught me decidedly different approaches to justice work. These new perspectives convince me that Quakers, particularly White Quakers, need to change how we think about and do justice work.

My perspectives include:

  • The need to advocate for Indigenous leadership to help protect and heal Mother Earth.
  • Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) do not see any distinction between White Quakers and other White people in this country.
  • The capitalist economic system is fundamentally unjust.
    • Capitalism transfers great wealth to the wealthy by exploiting and oppressing those who aren’t.
    • Capitalism impoverishes millions of people
    • Capitalism is economic slavery
    • Capitalism treats natural resources as commodities to be exploited for profit
    • Capitalist systems do not feel the need to conserve resources
  • Police and prisons must be abolished.
    • The criminal justice system enforces the policies of the White dominant culture.
    • The criminal justice system violently targets BIPOC people
    • It is inhumane to lock people in cages.
  • White Quakers are settler-colonists. We continue to live on and profit from Indigenous lands.
  • The involvement of some White Quakers in the native boarding schools and how to begin healing related to that, is crucial for authentic relations between White Quakers and native peoples.
    • I have witnessed the multigenerational trauma affecting Indigenous people today.
  • Increasingly, as environmental chaos worsens, responding to the disastrous consequences will consume our attention and resources.
Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) do not see any distinction between White Quakers and other White people in this country.

The most significant new perspectives are about the capitalist economic system. I hadn’t been as aware of many of the injustices fueled by capitalism prior to spending time in oppressed communities. Now I have witnessed the devastating effects of capitalism in these communities.

The nearly universal resistance to my attempts to convince White people to build systems not based upon capitalism is because the system works for them.

Capitalism is an unjust system. A different system is required. Mutual Aid is such a system.

Justice cannot be attained by incremental changes to an unjust system.

Accelerating environmental chaos is increasingly disrupting life as we know it. Which means, among other things, that the current political and economic systems in this country will continue to collapse. Now is the time to envision and build alternatives such as mutual aid.

Justice cannot be attained within an unjust system

Our Quaker Queries recognize the injustices of our capitalist economic system.

‘We are part of an economic system characterized by inequality and exploitation. Such a society is defended and perpetuated by entrenched power. “

The advice also says “we envision a system of social and economic justice that ensures the right of every individual to be loved and cared for…” 

Faith and Practice, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)

This is well summarized by my friend Ronnie James. We work together at Des Moines Mutual Aid.

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James, Des Moines Mutual Aid

This is a simplified schematic of the consequences of White dominance (Red), and the alternatives for a transition to justice and disaster preparedness (Green).

Implementing the transition to a more just society will be impeded by

  • Environmental chaos
  • Corrupt and failing institutions
  • Authoritarianism

This diagram shows the current systems in the column labeled White.
The column under Black, Indigenous and other people of color shows the injustices resulting from the current systems.
The Red/Green New Deal shows how we can address these injustices.
The solid red column indicates the challenges to moving to systems of justice, sustainability, and resilience.

I’ve written about these concepts on my blog:

Martin Luther King, Jr. 2023

Yesterday, April 4th, was the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Every year there is a solemn gathering at the Kennedy-King Park in downtown Indianapolis to commemorate the speech that Bobby Kenndy gave there in 1968, announcing King’s death. This was in the days before cell phones, and that was the first time most in the crowd heard the news. The Indianapolis police pleaded with him not to go to that neighborhood, fearing they could not protect him from the crowd. Indianapolis was one of the few major cities in the country where riots did not occur that night.

That event in Indianapolis was supposed to have been a campaign stop for Kennedy’s Presidential bid. Kennedy received the news on the plane to Indianapolis. There was no time to prepare a speech. The video at the end of this is the extemporaneous speech Kennedy gave that night.

There is a remarkable sculpture at the Kennedy-King Park symbolizing the connections between Martin Luther King, Jr, and Robert Kennedy.

(c)Jeff Kisling, Kennedy-King Park, Indianapolis, IN

Martin Luther King has been an important part of my life. I was coming of age during his time, a Junior at Scattergood Friends School when he was killed. I had so much trouble trying to sort out what I should do about the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King was criticized by people in the civil rights movement when he began to speak out against the war, but that was a great help to me.

These days I’m working to replace capitalism by building mutual aid communities. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work was as much about economics and poverty as it was about racial equality.

“I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic,” Martin Luther King admitted to Coretta Scott, concluding that “capitalism has outlived its usefulness.”

Speaking at a staff retreat of the SCLC in 1966, King said that “something is wrong … with capitalism” and “there must be a better distribution of wealth” in the country. “Maybe,” he suggested, “America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

For King, the only solution to America’s crisis of poverty was the redistribution of wealth. In a 1961 speech to the Negro American Labor Council, King declared, “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”

The Forgotten Socialist History of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Matthew Miles Goodrich, In These Times, January 16, 2023

“War Is An Enemy Of The Poor.”

Although seldom recognized, Martin Luther King Jr. was anti-war. His politics should be applied to demand an end to NATO and the war in Ukraine, say activists.

“We are here, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said co-executive director of The People’s Forum, Claudia De La Cruz, to a crowd of hundreds gathered in Times Square, in front of the US Army Recruiting Station, on January 14. “We are here to reclaim his legacy and say: no to war.”

The organizers and workers mobilized to demand an end to NATO and a peaceful resolution to the ongoing war in Ukraine. The rally and march was organized by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, a US anti-war organization, and the People’s Forum. Activists raised slogans to demand a peaceful resolution of the war through negotiations rather than continued US weapons funding. Banners read “Money for our needs/Not the war machine” and “No to NATO/Yes to peace”.

With Congress passing a massive spending bill in December, containing over $44 billion in US aid to Ukraine, the United States is now set to spend over $100 billion total on the Russia–Ukraine War. Activists are demanding that these billions be used instead to fund public services, such as education, jobs and healthcare.

“We have to continue to fight for integration, collaboration, negotiations, because that’s been the only way of resolving conflict. War is a tool of our enemy,” said De La Cruz, in closing, to the crowd assembled inside The People’s Forum. “The only legit war is class war.”

US Activists Honor the Anti-War Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr by Natalia Marques, People’s Dispatch, January 17, 2023

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James

The major threat of Martin Luther King Jr to us is a spiritual and moral one. King’s courageous and compassionate example shatters the dominant neoliberal soul-craft of smartness, money and bombs. His grand fight against poverty, militarism, materialism and racism undercuts the superficial lip service and pretentious posturing of so-called progressives as well as the candid contempt and proud prejudices of genuine reactionaries. King was neither perfect nor pure in his prophetic witness – but he was the real thing in sharp contrast to the market-driven semblances and simulacra of our day.

Martin Luther King Jr turned away from popularity in his quest for spiritual and moral greatness – a greatness measured by what he was willing to give up and sacrifice due to his deep love of everyday people, especially vulnerable and precious black people. Neoliberal soul craft avoids risk and evades the cost of prophetic witness, even as it poses as “progressive”.

If King were alive today, his words and witness against drone strikes, invasions, occupations, police murders, caste in Asia, Roma oppression in Europe, as well as capitalist wealth inequality and poverty, would threaten most of those who now sing his praises.

Today, 50 years later the US imperial meltdown deepens. And King’s radical legacy remains primarily among the awakening youth and militant citizens who choose to be extremists of love, justice, courage and freedom, even if our chances to win are that of a snowball in hell! This kind of unstoppable King-like extremism is a threat to every status quo!

Martin Luther King Jr was a radical. We must not sterilize his legacy by Cornel West, The Guardian, April 4, 2018

YouTube video I created of speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr, and Bobby Kennedy using photos I took at the Kenned-King Park in Indianapolis.

Three Years Later

Don’t you find there are periods of rapid change interspersed among long plateaus in your life? Although those plateaus are becoming fewer and lasting shorter periods of time.

The last three years have been a time of momentous change, both in my life, and in the world. I’m trying to explain what has been happening to me, because these experiences convince me we must all make similar changes if we are going to make the major adjustments needed to try to mitigate deepening environmental damage. The world has been spiraling out of control these past three years, dramatically impacting all our communities and individual lives. I think of these changes as related to the idea of a house of cards. The cards in this case being dollars of the capitalist economy.

(c)2023 Jeff Kisling

Foundational Stories

I was born into a rural Iowa Quaker community and have been a Quaker all my life. I attended Scattergood Friends School, a Quaker boarding high school on a farm in Eastern Iowa.

Recently I was challenged to consider what my foundational stories are, how they began, how they changed over time, and what they are now. I’ve been writing this series of blog posts about these stories, which are related to the intersections between my Quaker faith, protecting Mother Earth, and photography. You can read my foundational stories here:

I spent my entire adult life in Indianapolis. I arrived in 1970 to spend two years in a Quaker community organizing project, Friends Volunteer Service Mission. To support myself financially, I received on-the-job training to be a respiratory therapy technician. I later obtained a degree in Respiratory Therapy, and a career in neonatal respiratory therapy, and then thirty years doing research in infant lung development and disease in Indianapolis at Riley Hosptial for Children, Indiana University Medical Center. I retired and returned to Iowa in the summer of 2017.

Part of the Mother Earth piece of my foundational stories was “driven” by a spiritual leading that showed me I could not contribute to the pollution from owning a personal automobile, so I didn’t. That had all kinds of repercussions.

Although my leading to try to live without a personal automobile grew over time, the actual decision came about abruptly. I had a couple of used cars but felt increasingly uncomfortable having one. When my car was totaled in an accident, I took the opportunity to see if I could live without a car in the city. It took some time to work out the bus schedules, especially because I was working all kinds of hours and on weekends. And I had to learn how to shop such that I could carry everything home.

But because we derive our sense of identity and socioeconomic status from work embedded in a profit driven economy, transformative day-to-day self-sufficient activities, when they are applied in an urban or suburban setting, give rise to second set of intangible sociocultural barriers that involve taking significant social risks. Peter Lipman the former (founding) chair of Transition Network and Common Cause Foundation encourages us to take these social and cultural risks. But what exactly are the more difficult risks needed to move us in the right direction? It is important to identify intangible socioeconomic challenges in order to side-step them.

In short, our identities are tied up in what we do for a living and how we do what we do for a living must radically change. Because, let’s be honest, living and working, having lifestyles and livelihoods that are truly regenerative and sustainable look nothing like how most of us currently live and work.

Against the Economic Grain: Addressing the Social Challenges of Sustainable Livelihoods by Kim Kendall, originally published by, January 27, 2023

It was difficult for us (environmentalists) to find pressure points, places where we could call attention to the existential threats of environmental chaos from burning fossil fuels. In 2013, activists recognized the application for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline as such an opportunity. This decision was solely up to President Obama, allowing us a focus for our efforts. I was trained as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance in 2013. There I learned many skills related to community organizing. Four of us trained about forty people in the Indianapolis community, and organized many demonstrations and actions against fossil fuel companies and the banks that fund them.

We were able to train others in those skills later when the White Pines Wilderness Academy in Indianapolis wanted to bring attention to the dangers of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Wet’suwet’en peoples

I was always looking for news about fossil fuels and our environment. This blog post from 1/14/2020 describes my discovery of the Wet’suwet’en peoples and their struggles against the Coastal GasLink (CGL) liquid natural gas pipeline being constructed through their pristine territory in British Columbia.

I have just begun to learn about the Wet’suwet’en people. A friend of mine from the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March traveled to the Unist’ot’en camp about 4 years ago and found it to be a life-changing experience. I also asked other friends I made during the March about this, and they indicated support for these people.

You may wonder why I am trying to learn and write about the Wet’suwet’en people now. The literal answer is I saw this article recently: Hereditary First Nation chiefs issue eviction notice to Coastal GasLink contractors. TC Energy says it signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along pipeline’s path. Joel Dryden · CBC News · Posted: Jan 05, 2020.

Any efforts to stop pipelines catch my interest.

Wet’suwt’en People, Jeff Kisling, 1/14/2020

I wrote this booklet about the Wet’suwet’en struggles, including some videos of confrontations with Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Assault rifles trained on unarmed youth.

Spirit led connection to Mutual Aid

The title THREE YEARS LATER refers to my introduction to Des Moines Mutual Aid a little over three years ago. I took the photo below on Feb 7, 2020, when a small group of us organized a vigil in support of the Wet’suwet’en. I know the Spirit led Ronnie James, from Des Moines Mutual Aid, to join us. He was surprised that anyone outside his circle knew what was happening to the Wet’suwet’en. Ronnie is an Indigenous organizer working with the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS), and as such was interested to see if these were people who could become allies.

That meeting changed my life in many ways, all stemming from what I was learning from Ronnie and others about Mutual Aid, which has become the focus of my justice work since.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed documenting justice actions photographically. I like the challenge of an ever-moving group of people, the varieties of signs, the reactions of the people and the public. But for the past several years posting photos of demonstrations is discouraged if people’s faces are visible. Which police sometimes later use to bring charges against those people.

Ronnie and I are both part of Des Moines Mutual Aid’s free food project. The Wet’suwet’en being part of our history, we continue to support them. Because of COVID and people wearing masks, we were comfortable taking this photo during one of our Mutual Aid gatherings for the food project.

Des Moines Mutual Aid supports Wet’suwet’en peoples’ struggle again Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline

Three Years Later

And yet, three years later, the Wet’suwet’en peoples’ struggles continue.

March 29, 2023
Contact: Jennifer Wickham, Media Coordinator, Gidim’ten Checkpoint,, 778-210-0067

URGENT MEDIA ADVISORY: RCMP C-IRG Raid Wet’suwet’en Village Site, Make 5 Arrests 


WET’SUWET’EN TERRITORY (Smithers, BC) – This morning, a large force of RCMP C-IRG raided a Gidimt’en village site and arrested five land and water defenders, mostly Indigenous women, including Gidimt’en Chief Woos’ daughter. The raid accompanied a search warrant for theft under $5000 with no clear relation to the Gidimt’en village site.

This large-scale action by the RCMP’s Community Industry Response Group (C-IRG) involved more than a dozen police vehicles and officers drawn from throughout British Columbia. The arrests come just weeks after the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) announced they have “initiated a systemic investigation into the activities and operations of the RCMP “E” Division Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG).”

In the days leading to this police action, RCMP C-IRG have been found patrolling Wet’suwet’en traplines and cultural use areas, harassing and intimidating Wet’suwet’en members and disrupting constitutionally protected Wet’suwet’en cultural activities. Members of a private security firm hired by Coastal Gaslink pipeline, Forsythe, have also escalated harassment and surveillance efforts against Wet’suwet’en members in recent days. 

Both the RCMP’s C-IRG unit and Forsythe are named as defendants in an ongoing lawsuit launched by Wet’suwet’en members, which alleges that police and private security have launched a coordinated campaign of harassment and intimidation in an effort to force Wet’suwet’en people to abandon their unceded territories. 

Sleydo’, spokesperson for Gidimt’en Checkpoint, said: 

“This harassment and intimidation is exactly the kind of violence designed to drive us from our homelands. The constant threat of violence and criminalization for merely existing on our own lands must have been what our ancestors felt when Indian agents and RCMP were burning us out of our homes as late as the 50s in our area. The colonial project continues at the hands of industry’s private mercenaries–C-IRG”

The arrests come days before Indigenous delegates are set to arrive at Royal Bank of Canada’s Annual General Meeting to oppose expansion of fossil fuels without consent on their territories, including Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs who oppose RBC’s funding of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline.

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks offered the following:

“This is harassment, and exactly what Royal Bank of Canada is funding. Ahead of its shareholder meeting next week, RBC continues to fund corporate colonialism, and displace Indigenous peoples from our lands at gunpoint – all for a fracked gas pipeline we cannot afford now or in the future. In the context of the theft of our ancestral land, alleging stolen saws and clothing is outrageous.”

Yesterday morning at my Quaker meeting, we considered the following set of questions related to our environmental responsibilities.



All of creation is divine and interdependent: air, water, soil, and all that lives and grows. Since human beings are part of this fragile and mysterious web, whenever we pollute or neglect the earth we pollute and neglect our own wellsprings. Developing a keen awareness of our role in the universe is essential if we are to live peacefully within creation.

The way we choose to live each day‑‑as we manufacture, package, purchase and recycle goods, use resources, dispose of water, ‑design homes, plan families and travel‑affects the present and future of life on the planet. The thought and effort we give to replenishing what we receive from the earth, to keeping informed and promoting beneficial legislation on issues which affect the earth, to envisioning community with environmental conscience, are ways in which we contribute to the ongoing health of the planet we inhabit.

Preserving the quality of life on Earth calls forth all of our spiritual resources. Listening to and heeding the leadings of the Holy Spirit can help us develop qualities which enable us to become more sensitive to all life


  • What are we doing about our disproportionate use of the world’s resources?
  • Do we see unreasonable exploitation in our relationship ‑with the rest of creation?
  • How can we nurture reverence and respect for life?  How I can we become more fully aware of our interdependent relationship with the rest of creation?
  • To what extent are we aware of all life and the role we play? What can we do in our own lives and communities to address environmental concerns?

Faith and Practice, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)


One of the principles of Mutual Aid is political education. As part of this education, found below is the March 2023 edition of MUTUAL AID MONTHLY, A Production of Des Moines Mutual Aid. You can download it using the DOWNLOAD button on the PDF file display window at the end.

“This flyer is a production of Des Moines Mutual Aid, which is a local network of anarchists, communists, and socialists building community autonomy from capitalism and the state. Below are our points of unity – basically, our basic political and social outlook which binds us together.”

Des Moines Mutual Aid

This is a good description of Des Moines Mutual Aid. We are a network of anarchists, communists, and socialists. Understanding these terms applied to a community I belong to has been part of my political education. My life has been a rebellion against capitalism and the state. But am I an anarchist, communist and/or socialist? I learned that those are parts of me. It’s a step to not only learn what you are not, but also what you are. It’s easy enough to say I’m not a capitalist, but am I a so-called enemy of the state? Yes, I am, in the nonviolent sense. The state is becoming increasingly oppressive and authoritarian. But I’ve learned that even when the capitalist system was “working”, it was and is still a system built on supremacy, violence, abuse, and oppression.

Several years ago, I changed the name of this blog to QUAKERS AND RELIGIOUS SOCIALISM as part of my evolving political education.

I learned about the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) Religious Socialism Committee from my friend Fran Quigley, director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law and a editorial team member.

Fran wrote in response to a blog post I had written, The Evil of Capitalism, December 31, 2020.

This post of yours struck me close to home. I too have become fully convinced of the evils of capitalism. Moreover, I have come to the conclusion that my faith dictates that I work to replace it. Turns out I am far from alone, so I’ve been devoting much of my time this past year to the Religion and Socialism Committee of the DSA,

My Introduction to Religious Socialism, Jeff Kisling

I like the Points of Unity of Des Moines Mutual Aid. I like the emphasis on the positive, “our basic political and social outlook which binds us together“. We are tightly bound together. I often hear my friends say how much they look forward to being together, working alongside each other, being directly connected to those who come for help. And knowing there is no judgement, because we are all aware that we might one day need help ourselves. I like the stories of those putting together boxes of food tell me they once came for food, themselves. I like the expectation that anyone of us should take food ourselves. It took me a while to realize my mistake in not taking any food. (As a result, my friends now know of my sweet tooth.)

One of our principles of unity is:
We have open disagreements with each other about ideas and practices.
“We believe there is no formula for resolving our ideological differences other than working towards our common aims, engaging with each other in a comradely manner, and respecting one another whether or not we can hash out disagreements in the process.”

The publication of MUTUAL AID MONTHLY relates to another of our Points of Unity, political consciousness.

We work to raise the political consciousness of our communities.
Part of political education is connecting people’s lived experiences to a broader political perspective. Another component is working to ensure that people can meet their basic needs. It is difficult to organize for future liberation when someone is entrenched in day-to-day struggle.

from Points of Unity, Des Moines Mutual Aid

Political ignorance is one of the main reasons this country is falling into chaos and authoritarianism. People would be less susceptible to falling for cults of personality and understand the threats to freedom posed by culture wars if they had a better education, including critical thinking skills. You might think of sharing MUTUAL AID MONTHLY with others in furtherance of their/your political consciousness. As a resource to stimulate discussions.