Edit, October 1st:
Last night, the US government shut down, stalled in negotiations by a small minority. This is affecting aid to women with infants and small children, veterans, and a whole host of others. Mutual Aid has always been important, but is becoming more and more so every day. In my mind, we must find better ways to care for each other, and take our power back.
I wrote this last week, on September 25th:
“Every single person in the world should have food, shelter, healthcare, and education, before any person is worth billions.” – Umair Haque, economist
Yesterday at the house of hospitality, in two hours and ten minutes we went through 80 gallons of soup, several giant bowls full of salad bigger than my arms can encircle, and tray after tray of bread. I don’t have exact measurements of the salad and bread, but unless you cater huge events, it is more than you might imagine.
The yard was jammed, pretty much every seat filled in the dining room, under the outside canopy and in the sunny yard, on benches set up around the blooming roses and small trees. A lot of people were sleeping where they could find a slot to tuck a blanket. Life on the street is exhausting. They know that here, behind these gates, they most likely don’t have to worry about being beaten, robbed or moved along.
I posted the amount we had served yesterday and got several nice responses along the lines of “you do good work.” That wasn’t what I was after. What I was trying to convey, in posting the stats and closing with “People are hungry” was that this is just one soup kitchen in one city. 46.5 million people in the US live below the poverty line. It would take a paltry $175.3 billion to bring them all up to the poverty line. That would likely be enough to get a large number of people on their feet. Not all, but many.
People are hungry.
People are starving. People need education. People are being killed on the streets and in their homes. People are being killed by drones, from the sky. People need clean water. People need beauty.
The world is out of balance, the Divine Twins of generosity and greed are both present, but too often these days, the Twin of greed seems to be holding sway. “…despite recent turbulent economic times, demand for super yachts has remained steady” reports Luxury Society. We know the other stories, too: the cost of celebrity weddings, money which could provide clean drinking water for a million children. The U.S. Government selling arms to dictatorships all over the world, making a profit from oppression. 500 prisoners in California having spent 10 years in solitary confinement. War veterans getting their food stamps taken away…
And yet, last week when I asked people to share the ways in which they engage in mutual aid, all sorts of answers came in: donating to food banks, working in a mental health clinic, offering emotional support to friends, setting up barter economy, growing and sharing food, volunteering at domestic violence shelters, doing drug counseling, offering showers and meals to young people in their neighborhood.
The Divine Twin of generosity walks strongly among us.
Why am I writing this? It is easy to give way to frustration and hopelessness when things feel skewed and out of control. It is easy to lose our sense of center and agency. It is easy to give our power away to those we see as controlling the systems we live within.
We don’t have to let greed take over. We can match greed with generosity, bringing greater equilibrium to the world. We can mediate these forces, making space for a third force to arise, a new way of being that we can’t even see, hear, taste, or touch yet.
We can build hope. No one is going to give it to us, despite their promises. We can claim our power and share it with one another.
Help me. Please share the ways in which you are sowing love, justice, and beauty. Share with us the ways in which you are allowing generosity to flow. Share ideas about how we can help one another.
What kind of world do you want to build and how are you helping to manifest it?