Discerning Peace and Social Concerns

This morning my Quaker Meeting (Bear Creek) will be considering how we work for peace and nonviolence. Each month we consider queries from our (Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative)’s Fath and Practice. This month’s queries relate to peace and nonviolence.


“[We] seek to live in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.”     George Fox


We seek peace within our own lives. Sometimes there are barriers to peace within families and meetings, and among individuals. Anger and frustration may result in hurtfulness which leaves physical, sexual or emotional wounds. Healing and forgiveness are possible when our hearts are opened to the transforming love that comes from the Spirit Within. The violence we oppose is not only war, but all unloving acts.

Friends seek peaceful resolution to conflicts among nations and peoples. Wars can easily erupt when nations depend upon armed forces as an option for defense and order. To oppose war is not enough if we fail to deal with the injustices and inequalities that often lead to violence. We need to address the causes of war, such as aggression, revenge, overpopulation, greed, and religious and ethnic differences.


  • What are we doing to educate ourselves and others about the causes of conflict in our own lives, our families and our meetings? Do we provide refuge and assistance, including advocacy, for spouses, children, or elderly persons who are victims of violence or neglect?
  • Do we recognize that we can be perpetrators as well as victims of violence? How do we deal with this? How can we support one another so that healing may take place?
  • What are we doing to understand the causes of war and violence and to work toward peaceful settlement of differences locally, nationally, and internationally? How do we support institutions and organizations that promote peace?
  • Do we faithfully maintain our testimony against preparation for and participation in war?

Faith and Practice. Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)

I have been meaning to read the pamphlet Advice and Queries: Discerning Peace and Social Concerns by Tasmin Rajorte and Matthew Legge, Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC), Canadian Quaker Learning Series.

In preparation for our (Bear Creek) worship sharing related to peace and nonviolence this morning, I thought this would be a good time to read that pamphlet. I was impressed with what I read. I try to avoid including too much material from other sources when I write, but the following are very helpful queries from the document.

Discerning Peace and Social Concerns

Several Quaker Meetings have come to us to express challenges in their work on peace and social concerns. They’ve said, in effect: “We’re exhausted. We see so many problems in the world and we try to take action on too many of them. In the end, we’re left feeling frazzled and spread too thin. How does Canadian Friends Service Committee navigate this challenge? How can we decide what causes to take up?”

In response to these questions and requests for help, CFSC has written a new pamphlet. Aimed at Quaker Meetings, the pamphlet explores what discernment is, what a leading is, and how to use Quaker decision-making processes to select what peace and social justice work to take on.

Queries to Test that the Concern or Leading is Grounded in Spirit

“…Appreciate that doubt and questioning can also lead to spiritual growth and to a greater awareness of the Light that is in us all.”

Advices & Queries

Having considered what concerns, leadings, and discernment mean and how Quakers engage in discernment processes, you can now turn to queries that you and the Meeting may find helpful in discerning if a leading or concern is grounded in the Spirit.

Personal reflection

Are you experiencing a concern or a leading? Is it genuinely from God?

The following queries may assist with providing clarity on this:

  • Is it an immediate reaction to something or is it coming from a deeper place? Can you distinguish the concern or leading that has arisen from the range of concerns that you are generally preoccupied with or want to act on?
  • Is the compulsion to do something stemming from your ego’s need for acceptance, belonging, or control? Are you experiencing a compulsion to rescue others, to save the world, or to act on your own? Are there expectations, hopes, assumptions, impulses, and underlying family patterns” shaping your sense of the concern or leading? 27 Is this genuinely motivated by love and compassion? Is it coming from the heart in unity with the mind?
  • What experiences led to this concern or leading?
  • Is this a desire that someone else do something or is it a call to act yourself?
  • Is it associated with an unnerving persistent “turmoil and disquiet that won’t go away?
  • Can you explain the faith basis of the concern or leading and how it is in keeping with Friends’ testimonies?”
  • Is now the time and, if so, will you remain in this for the long
  • Are you willing to accept difficulty and censure.
  • How is this concern or leading currently being addressed?
  • Would acting on this result in any harm to you and/or the community?
  • Once it is clear what you must do, is there a feeling of centredness and peace that is unlike the preceding turmoil?

Role of the Monthly Meeting

“A concern that is brought before a meeting should be considered with the greatest love, kindness and discipline. Much as we like to support our Friends in the things for which they have an unbounded enthusiasm, it is no kindness to recognize as a concern something which has not received the fullest attention possible.”—Britain Yearly Meeting

A broad array of leadings and concerns come to Meetings. These may be referred to a Peace and Social Action Committee (PSAC) or discernment may be done by the Meeting as a whole. If the Meeting has a PSAC, is its role to assist with discernment and:

a) make recommendations to the Meeting and help Friends prioritize and unite on engaging in action together as a Meeting; or
b) provide coordination, guidance, and support for Friends in carrying out, as individuals, leadings and concerns that have been tested?

Whether discernment is done by the Meeting as a whole, or a PSAC, queries to assist with this stage of the discernment process can be found below. In some cases, a Meeting for Clearness can also be useful. Note, too, that a Meeting may choose to act on a concern arising from a partnership (for instance with other faith communities) in addressing a matter of common interest even in the absence of a leading from any individual in the Meeting. The following queries may assist a gathered Meeting or PSAC at this stage of the discernment process:

  • Is the concern or leading and proposed action self-serving?
  • “Knowledge about something generally does not give rise to a true leading or concern. It is when a Friend is intimately acquainted with a situation that the Spirit’s call to action arises.
  • Does the leading come out of direct experience?
  • Does the Friend have an established relationship with those who are the focus of the concern (for example, do they work with incarcerated persons if the concern is about incarceration)?
  • Can the individual be patient for better clarity and others’ guidance, and wait for way to open?
  • What is the faith basis of the concern or leading? Can it be explained?
  • What is distinctively Quaker about the concern or leading, and about the way we might be called to act? Is it in keeping with the testimonies of the Society? Why should Friends be doing this work?
  • Is this individual or group right to believe that this concern or leading has been ‘laid upon’ them by God?
  • Is the individual jumping on a bandwagon or bringing something unique?

Yes, the Concern or Leading is Grounded in Spirit—Now What?

“The way people are going to work together has to reflect and foster sustainability of the outcomes.”

Lucy Lemieux

Once it has been determined that the concern or leading is truly from divine guidance, further discernment is needed around what action to take. Is there a request to the Meeting or PSAC to act on this concern or leading? Are others drawn to the concern, making it necessary to discern whether a larger body of Friends will take this up and what the key focus will be?

from Advice and Queries: Discerning Peace and Social Concerns by Tasmin Rajorte and Matthew Legge, Canadian Friends Service Committee, Canadian Quaker Learning Series

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: https://jeffkisling.com/?s=quaker+social+change+ministry

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). https://firstnationfarmer.com/
      • 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.

Injustices of Capitalism

I am a hierarchy resister

I spend so much time praying and writing about Mutual Aid because I believe Mutual Aid is the correct path for our peace and justice work. And because I get to spend time with my Des Moines Mutual Aid friends every week, where we catch up with each other and our work while we fill boxes of donated food to distribute.

Mutual Aid is the framework that models the Beloved communities we strive to create. And gets to the roots of injustice.

Those living in capitalist societies usually need some education to understand why Mutual Aid should be the framework for our justice work. Simply put, capitalism is a system that enforces injustice and oppression. It does this by violently enforcing strict hierarchies.

The greatest resistance I’ve found to embracing mutual aid is the difficulty people have in seeing the injustices of capitalism. So, I distilled this in the following diagram.

My experiences with mutual aid include:

  • My introduction to Mutual Aid was a Spiritual leading.
  • Maintaining a flat or horizontal hierarchy is what makes Mutual Aid work.
    • MUTUAL is the key.
  • Removing artificial hierarchies eliminates grouping people by race, class, gender, education, etc.
  • Mutual Aid resists authoritarianism and colonization.
    • There cannot be white supremacy, for example, if there is no hierarchy.
  • Mutual Aid is NOT charity.
  • A fundamental principle of justice work is to follow the lead of the oppressed community. In Central Iowa, a coalition named the Buffalo Rebellion is providing such leadership. The Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition consisting of
    • Des Moines Black Liberation
    • Great Plain Action Society
    • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
    • Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice
    • Sierra Club Beyond Coal
    • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 199, and
    • Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement
  • I believe Mutual Aid is the Quaker way of being in the world.

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)

Queries related to Mutual Aid
Do we recognize that hierarchies are about power, supremacy and privilege? What are Quaker hierarchies?
Do we work to prevent hierarchies in our peace and justice work?
What are we doing to meet the survival needs of our wider community?
How are we preparing for disaster relief, both for our community, and for the influx of climate refugees?
Are we examples of a Beloved community? How can we invite our friends and neighbors to join our community?

Des Moines Mutual Aid

Mutual aid is essential to building social movements. People often come to social movement groups because they need something: eviction defense, childcare, social connection, health care, or help in a fight with the government about something like welfare benefits, disability services, immigration status, or custody of their children. Being able to get help in a crisis is often a condition for being politically active, because it’s very difficult to organize when you are also struggling to survive. Getting support through a mutual aid project that has a political analysis of the conditions that produced your crisis also helps to break stigma, shame, and isolation. Under capitalism, social problems resulting from exploitation and the maldistribution of resources are understood as individual moral failings, not systemic problems. Getting support at a place that sees the systems, not the people suffering in them, as the problem can help people move from shame to anger and defiance. Mutual aid exposes the failures of the current system and shows an alternative. This work is based in a belief that those on the front lines of a crisis have the best wisdom to solve the problems, and that collective action is the way forward.

Dean Spade. Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) (Kindle Locations 163-171). Verso.

Today, around the world, people resort to alternative forms of autonomous organization to give their existence a meaning again, to reflect human creativity’s desire to express itself as freedom. These collectives, communes, cooperatives and grassroots movements can be characterized as people’s self-defense mechanisms against the encroachment of capitalism, patriarchy and the nation-state.

Kurdish scholar-activist Dilar Dirk

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

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

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: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/foundational-stories/

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 Resilience.org, 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, yintahaccess@gmail.com, 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)

Request for Discernment Regarding Reproductive Health and Abortion

Every two years the Friends Commitee on National Legislation (FCNL) distributes questions to ask which legislative policies Quaker meetings and churches support. All of these are collected, and FCNL’s Policy Committee distills those responses into the legislative priorities that will determine what issues FCNL’s lobbyists will focus on as they work with Congress.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade, the Policy Committee of FCNL’s General Committee heard concern from Friends around the country about FCNL’s lack of position on the issue of abortion. 

FCNL’s Policy Committee is seeking the help of Friends in discerning what FCNL should say about reproductive health care in its policy statement.

Queries for Discernment on FCNL’s Policy on Reproductive Health Care

“Friends seek to establish a way of being in the world that grows out of and embodies prayer, worshipful listening for the whisper of divine guidance, and seasoning in the community of faith.”

Margery Post Abbott, A Theological Perspective on Quaker Lobbying

FCNL’s Policy Statement, The World We Seek, serves as our foundational document, outlining FCNL’s broad policy positions.

The statement currently reads:

III.2.6: Health Care. Universal access to affordable, effective, comprehensive health care is a right and is necessary to allow all people to fulfill their potential. Comprehensive health care includes primary, acute, and long-term care, including prescription drugs, as well as mental health and substance abuse treatment. To ensure access, health services should be provided where an individual’s needs can best be met. Our country can only maintain and improve the physical and mental health of its population with affordable health care that covers the entire life span, from prenatal to end-of-life care. Public health services, which protect us all, require robust federal support.

III.2.7. NOTE: Members of the Society of Friends are not in unity on abortion issues. Therefore, FCNL takes no position and does not act either for or against abortion legislation. On occasion, FCNL may appeal to lawmakers not to use the abortion debate to paralyze action on other legislation.”

FCNL’s Policy Committee invites your Quaker discernment group to focus on the issue of reproductive health care, including abortion, and advise us on whether FCNL should revise our policy statement.

Queries and structure to support discernment:

  • What does reproductive health care look like in the world that you and your community seek?
  • How are the Quaker values and testimonies relevant to the issue of abortion?
  • Should the FCNL Policy Statement be revised on the issues of abortion and reproductive health and abortion?
  • If so, what should the Policy Statement say?

Frequently Asked Questions

Guidelines for Group Discernment

Whether you are gathering in person, online, or in a hybrid format, we hope that your discernment will be spiritually grounded and a result of group conversations. These discussions may take many forms, including discernment by a committee, an informal group, or a First Day discussion topic. Some meetings or churches may adopt a minute expressing the sense of their group, although this is not a requirement.

You may want to prepare for discernment by reading the pamphlet, A Guide to Dialogue About Abortion. Tools such as this can help your conversation honor the complexity and urgency surrounding this topic.

To allow for the inclusion of a diversity of voices, we hope you will include people of different ages, backgrounds, and lived experiences in your discernment. Please identify at least one person who will submit your group’s responses.

Supporting Friends’ Discernment on Reproductive Health

FCNL’s Policy Committee has invited Friends to listen deeply in their communities around issues of reproductive health care, including abortion. Friends are invited to share the results of their discernment and to offer guidance on what FCNL should say about these issues in its policy statement.

Friends hold complex and nuanced perspectives on these topics. Sometimes, conversations about abortion and reproductive health can evoke strong emotions and reactions, forming polarized “sides” that don’t leave room for empathy, compassion, and understanding. How can we hold these difficult conversations in ways that prevent harm and support spiritual discernment?

On March 22 at 6:30 p.m. EST, join members of FCNL’s Policy Committee and Friends who are organizing these sessions for perspectives and advice on engaging your Quaker meeting or church in discernment to guide FCNL’s policy going forward.

When you sign up to attend, please share questions and topics you would like addressed. Please note: this event is intended to support people organizing or participating in discernment in their communities. It will not itself be a discernment or listening session.


  • Moderator: Ebby Luvaga, Clerk of FCNL’s Policy Committee
  • Genie Stowers, Member of FCNL’s Policy Committee
  • Lauren Brownlee, FCNL’s Associate General Secretary for Community and Culture

ZOOM information

MARCH 22, 2023, 6:30 – 7:30 PM EDT |  ONLINE

Join the Zoom video conference online or via telephone. Time: March 22nd, 6:30 p.m. EDT.

Go to: fcnl.org/qwc-stream

Or call: US: +1 301 715 8592. Then enter the Meeting ID: 820 2927 5353#
You shouldn’t need this, but just in case: Meeting ID: 820 2927 5353Passcode: 273787
We will send you this information to join the event via email as well.
If you do not receive a confirmation email presently, please check your spam folders.
Questions? Reach out to Clare Carter (ccarter@fcnl.org).

Reproductive Justice

Last May I was honored to attend and take photos at the Rally for Productive Justice for my friends.

The draft to end Roe and Casey was leaked just two days before the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Relatives (aka, Missing and Murdered Women and Girls). We are honoring this day by uplifting radical solidarity within all communities affected by colonial violence when body sovereignty is stolen from us.

Join our coalition of organizations and grassroots activists for a rally to demand abortion access, which plays a huge role in ending the MMIR crisis. Lack of access increases violence and health disparities in BIPOC, Disabled, LGBTQIA+, and Two-Sprit communities. Learn more from speakers and crowd testimony on how this affects these communities and take action on a wider scope than just abortion. We must abolish white supremacist and christian institutions that perpetuate colonial harm to oppress those that don’t fall into their manifest destiny paradigm.

Thank you to the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence for lighting the bridge and amphitheater red on May 5th in honor of MMIR Day of Awareness! The bridge will also be lit red on May 6th for our event!

ASL provided.
LiveStreamed to this page.

This event was organized by:
– Iowa Coalition for Collective Change
– Great Plains Action Society
– The Disability Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party
– Iowa CCI
– Des Moines BLM
– Sierra Club Beyond Coal
– Deaf Dome
– The Progressive Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party
– Iowa Abortion Access Fund
– One Iowa



Black and white photos

I came across these black and white photos from an earlier age. 1970 seems so far away.

Close to fifty years ago I had a life-changing vision related to mountains and air pollution. A horrific vision of my beloved Rocky Mountains hidden in clouds of smog, the very thing that did happen in an area near the Himalayas.

My vision was related to this photo of Long’s Peak rising above Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. I can barely bring myself to remember that vision of Long’s Peak hidden in smog.

Long’s Peak above Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

That vision determined the course of my life. From that day I sought the Spirit to guide me in ways to protect Mother Earth. That led me to live without having a car, and the myriad of things that happened as a result. The unintended consequences, most of them very good.

I developed the film and printed these photos in a darkroom I had set up in my bathroom. One reason I’m often reminded of this vision is because this photo was hanging on my wall

Here is a link to some of my posts about photography. https://jeffkisling.com/?s=photography.
And I have a website of my photos: https://jeffkislingphotography.wordpress.com/

These black and white photos remind me of the lyrics of the song “Blue” by Troye Sivan.

I know you’re seeing black and white
So, I’ll paint you a clear blue sky
Without you I am colour-blind
It’s raining every time I open my eyes

“Blue” by Troye Sivan

And Worldwide Beautiful by Kane Brown, who is multiracial.

You’re missing every color if you’re only seeing black and white
Tell me how you’re gonna change your mind if your heart’s unmovable
We ain’t that different from each other, from one to another
I look around and see worldwide beautiful

Kane Brown

25 songs of civil rights, social justice, freedom and hope for Black History Month 2023 by Ed Masley, Arizona Republic, Feb 1, 2023

Spirit, Justice, Mutual Aid, Healing and Survival

A number of ideas have come together for me lately. So, I’ve taken some time to write the following, putting them all together.

The PDF of Spirit, Justice, Mutual Aid, Healing and Survival can be found below. There is a button to download the PDF.

This is the link to the same PDF document online: spirit-justice-mutual-aid-healing-and-survival.pdf

Additionally, I’ve published an eBook version of the same document here:
Spirit, Justice, Mutual Aid, Healing and Survival eBook version

Feel free to leave comments below.

Spirit, Justice, Mutual Aid, Healing and Survival

FCNL Statement on Anti-racism, Anti-bias, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

My parents, Burt and Birdie Kisling, were involved with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) for many years. I’m very grateful they persuaded me to become involved, too. I was on the General Committee for nine years.

I was reluctant at first because I refused to have a car, so the trip from Indianapolis to Washington, DC, took twenty-two hours via the train, if it was on time, which it usually wasn’t. I would arrive sometime around 9 pm and walk from Union Station to William Penn House. I just had to stop by the US Capital building on the way to take photos, as it was lit so beautifully. I was sometimes approached by Capitol police, but I guess I appeared to be harmless. (Don’t tell my friends at FCNL that I mainly went to DC so I could take photos of all the monuments and memorials. Some of those photos can be found at the end of this.)

As Black History Month begins, here is an article by Lauren Brownlee. Following that is the new FCNL Statement on Anti-racism, Anti-bias, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion that I wanted to share with you.

“I Rage Because I Love”

I strive every day to put my faith, and the love at its heart, into action. I will always remember sitting in a Meeting for Worship in the early days of the Black Lives Matter movement and realizing that I rage because I love. Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, said, “I had to change my mourning into a movement, my pain into purpose, and sorrow into a strategy.” As Quakers say, ‘friend speaks my mind.’  

As Black History Month begins, I again feel rage in mourning for Keenan Anderson, Tyre Nichols, and too many others. I strive to channel my righteous indignation into grounded action. Sometimes that action is reaching out to loved ones to check in on them. Sometimes it is going to a rally, a protest, a vigil, or a march.

Sometimes it is organizing and advocating to change the systems that maintain white supremacy, and those are the moments that I am most grateful for FCNL. While the world we live in was built on a foundation of white supremacy, the world we at FCNL seek centers racial justice.  

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We are the ones who help bend it and there are myriad ways that we can do so. Each of our FCNL issue areas are designed around bending that arc, and our new Statement of Anti-racism, Anti-bias, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (AJEDI) guides how we bend it. 

(article continues here: https://www.fcnl.org/updates/2023-02/i-rage-because-i-love)  

As Black History Month begins, I again feel rage in mourning for Keenan Anderson, Tyre Nichols, and too many others. by Lauren Brownlee, FCNL, February 2, 2023

The Friends Committee on National Legislation is a national, nonpartisan Quaker organization that lobbies Congress and the administration to advance peace, justice, and environmental stewardship.

Founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FCNL fields an expert team of lobbyists on Capitol Hill and works with a grassroots network of tens of thousands of people across the country to advance policies and priorities established by our governing General Committee.

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement
As we bear witness and lobby in solidarity with Native Americans, we also honor the Nacotchtank tribe on whose ancestral land the FCNL, FCNL Education Fund, and Friends Place on Capitol Hill buildings stand. They are also known as the Anacostans, the Indigenous people who lived along the banks of the Anacostia River, including in several villages on Capitol Hill and what is now Washington, D.C. By the 1700s, the Nacotchtank tribe had merged with other tribes like the Pamunkey and the Piscataway, both of which still exist today.


T-MAPs 4: Slipping off the Tracks

This is a continuation of the series on Transformative Mutual Aid Practices (T-MAP’s)
(See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/t-maps/ )

This section is a bit odd for me. The questions relate to significant stresses, deeper than I’ve had to deal with. There were significant stresses related to my career as a neonatal respiratory therapist, software and medical hardware engineer, database developer, and researcher. But I’m retired now.

The point of this section is to map out what is hard for us, what we struggle with, and help us develop self-knowledge to be able to figure out what to do about it. This section is often the hardest one to fill out because it asks us to think about hard times, but the information we gather is really useful in our journey. Often unresolved things from our past can make us feel unsafe or upset in the present – this is called getting triggered. Sometimes our triggers contain useful information about what needs to heal in us, and what we need to express. If you find yourself getting triggered or overwhelmed as you complete your map, take a break and do one of the practices in your wellness toolkit. It can also help to do the T-MAPs process with other people and realize you are not alone.

My Stressors

Do my job, school, or finances contribute to my stress?

Check off any of these examples that apply to you, and write in your own answers at the bottom:

Add your own:

My stressors relate to conflicts that arise from my spiritual guidance and trying to get Quakers and/or others to understand that guidance and follow it with me. Or for certain guidance, finding out how to implement it, and then do it myself. I realize this isn’t much compared to the awful things many people have gone, are going through.

Do my relationships negatively impact my wellness?

I get stressed when Quakers, friends and/or others feel I’m on the wrong track with my spiritual journey.

What health factors negatively impact my wellness?

Sleep Deprivation

Getting Sick

Add your own:

Sleep deprivation commonly triggers migraine headaches. Or becoming irritable more easily. Fortunately, I don’t get sick very often, but I don’t like to feel unwell.

Do stressors related to my cultural background or identity negatively impact my wellness?

Describe your experiences:

I suppose being a Quaker and my spirituality are my cultural background. It can be hard to hear what I am led to do spiritually. And sometimes to be led to do difficult things like write blog posts expressing some things I know will upset others. And sometimes it is difficult to join public events related to justice.

Do any traumatic events from my past cause me to get triggered in the present?

People criticizing or judging me in a way that brings back past experiences of emotional/​verbal abuse

Add your own:

My first public expressions of spiritual leading were when a teenager I really upset my parents when I turned in my draft cards during the Vietnam War. I know they had my best interests in mind, but I felt betrayed that they didn’t support draft resistance despite their Quaker beliefs in peace. That often comes to mind as I do many things related to justice work.

Now we’re going to ask some questions about what we’re like when we’re not well.

We get to decide what “not well’ means for each of us. There’s nothing wrong with having a hard time, but sometimes things feel like more than we can handle.  Try to identify what is a “warning sign” for you that danger is ahead, and what is just part of the natural ebb and flow of how you experience life. It can be very useful to have this information so we can share our insights with others.

What it looks like when I’m not doing well:

How I feel when I’m not well:

Check off any of these examples that apply to you, and write in your own answers at the bottom:


Everything seems like too much effort

Describe your own experiences

I sometimes take on too much related to justice work. Also, responsibilities related to my Quaker community. That can add to the stresses related to spirituality. On the other hand, I don’t usually get too anxious because I do have a strong spiritual basis in my life (most of the time).

The following sections explore warning signs that we are having a rough time and could even be headed for crisis.

We’ve offered suggestions of different warning signs people might have, but feel free to move these around and make them your own – for example, for one person not sleeping enough might be an early warning sign, and for someone else it’s an advanced warning sign. Trust your own intuition and arrange your answers in a way that works for you – at the end of each question, you can always write in your own responses.

Warning Signs that I’m having trouble

Check off any of these examples that apply to you, and write in your own answers at the bottom:

I’m not sleeping enough.

I can’t get excited about things I usually love

Everyone and everything irritates me

Add your own

I usually notice this right away when I find I’m having trouble writing, since I write a blog post almost every day. And I have trouble finding things I want to take photos of, since I walk with my camera almost every day.

Advanced Warning Signs that I’m Approaching Crisis

Check any that apply to you, and write in your answers at the bottom:

Add your own:

I don’t even attempt writing or photography. I consider leaving my faith community altogether. Think about just giving up on my blog.

You are free to share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format under the following terms:

 T-MAPs is licensed by Jacks McNamara and Sascha DuBrul under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

A New Year Begins


It still seems strange that tomorrow we will have transitioned to a new year. As a scientist I understand measuring and classifying things like time. One of the few times my godson got really upset was when he learned about losing an hour of his life with the switch to daylight savings time. I could understand and somewhat share his outrage.


You probably aren’t surprised that the sunrise captured my attention before I could begin writing this morning. Perhaps a good omen for the new year.

One thing I did last year was to write about my foundational stories. https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/foundational-stories/
Which turned out to be a bigger project than anticipated. One thing I hoped that would answer was whether I should stop writing and just share photos. I know I write a lot and repeat things as I examine what goes on in this world, and in my spiritual life. I’m still wondering.

We all experienced a lot last year. Pandemics, multiple environmental catastrophes, out of control drug addiction and death, gun violence, police killings, antisemitism, government control of women’s bodies, attacks related to sexual orientation and identity, worsening economic situations for most of us, millions of children going hungry, ridiculous politics and yet another war.

I am no longer, after nine years, clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). I was led to become clerk of Bear Creek Friends meeting. Both of those things had/have consequences related to my faith and how I practice it.

A number of things have challenged me regarding faith. I am blessed to have deepened my friendships with many Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. It is hard to see the devastating effects the Indian boarding schools have on the generations of the families of all of my Indigenous friends. To learn even more about the Quaker involvement with forced assimilation. When I see family photos from the 1900s, I realize my ancestors were settler colonists. And that I am, too.

I am very blessed to have been invited to join the Buffalo Rebellion, a coalition of justice organizations in Iowa.

And the most intense experiences continue to be related to being part of Des Moines Mutual Aid. It has taken a long time to understand the depth of what I’ve been learning there. From the beginning I could tell this was a special place. A lot of this was the great diversity of this community. And learning of the depth of the commitment of my friends for justice. Of their tireless work in the community and on the streets.

And recently, and hardest to accept, has been to learn that I have experienced a lot of trauma as I’ve tried to work for justice, to follow my faith. I had always convinced myself that I was strong and self-sufficient, ignoring signs that said otherwise. I began to realize this as I saw how my Mutual Aid friends cared for each other in genuine ways during our weekly food giveway project. How kind they/we are to those coming for food. How they understand things I’d been going through and have cared for me.

For the new year, I’m led to continue to work with Mutual Aid and the Buffalo Rebellion. To find more ways to bring my faith into these spaces. How to do so has been puzzling. There is the history of White Quakers’ involvement in the Indian boarding schools, and continued settler colonization. The history of White Quakers’ involvement in the institution of slavery, and continued participation in systems of White dominance.

We say our lives should be expressions of our faith. While I haven’t heard discussions about faith, I know my Mutual Aid and Buffalo Rebellion friends are deeply spiritual. And recently I have been honored that Indigenous friends have read, and suggested others read some of my blog posts. This is likely the way I was looking for to share my faith with them.

And to continue to bring the concepts of mutual aid to my Quaker communities. I plan to speak more plainly about the evils of capitalism. When future generations look back at this time, they will not understand how we participated in capitalism, a system of economic slavery. In the same way we look back on the institution of slavery, and the land theft and genocide of Indigenous peoples. Will not understand our complicity in a dominate system of White superiority and racism.

A friend just now shared the following that more eloquently expresses what I’ve been trying to say above. This describes my Mutual Aid and Buffalo Rebellion friends perfectly.