[The following was published shortly after I arrived in Cuernavaca, 24 Sep]
Unprecedented, unbelievable, terrifying… Another hurricane. Another earthquake. I am stunned by the chaos and calamity engulfing our world. Elsewhere, cholera epidemics in war-torn Yemen and flooded Nigeria… monsoon-inundated and desperately impoverished Bangladesh struggling to accommodate over 400,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing in Burma, and more refugees forced out by military and industrial violence all over the world.
Meanwhile in the US, Trump completely ignores the needs of those most affected by recent disasters, instead spewing war-mongering nationalist rhetoric at the UN Summit (which should be an opportunity for coordinated global action, not name-calling and mud-slinging) after he has canceled the Clean Power Plan, backed out of the Paris Climate Accord, and appointed climate change deniers to head NASA, USDA, and EPA.
In some moments I feel overwhelmed, but I will not allow myself to be trapped by fear, I will not give in to despair. I insist on action – even if I can only make a difference to one person, only create a tiny and temporary change, I will always be as proactive and positive as possible. This is necessary for my self, my health, my joy – it gives meaning to my life. And crucially, actions practice our power, challenge and surmount our fears, defeat depression and despair – even the small steps pushing back against huge scary forces (one might say especially those).
I just arrived in Morelos to assist community-led grassroots direct action efforts in response to the recent earthquake. The destruction is terrible, but the compassion and the power of the people are inspiring!
I was not able to travel to Oaxaca to help after the previous earthquake; I feel a little guilty, like I have not been adequately using my great privilege by giving everything I’ve got to these communities in need. But as a friend and founder of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief reminds me, “You can’t effectively care for others if you don’t also care for yourself.” Some unavoidable obligations and deadlines, and then a series of illnesses, kept me stuck in Querétaro for two weeks… But now I am here, and I am ready to get to work.
I certainly will not claim that the organization known as Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is at work in México. I am just one little person, helping as I can (and I am not any kind of official representative – my only contribution so far has been to design their logo!). But the activities and relationships of mutual aid disaster relief are abundant here. In Oaxaca, communal traditions of Zapotecas and a dedicated movement of rebel teachers have built the power to care for each other. In México City, thousands of people have been helping with frantic rescue efforts. Still, the neglectful government provides little assistance here, and much help and solidarity is needed.
While I work with so many other volunteers and survivors in Solidarity Not Charity, I will try to document a little bit too, to share examples of the inspiring organizations and projects that have grown rapidly in the tropical heat. I know from previous experience the importance of scenes of love and hope, so necessary to fuel continuing action, to lighten exhausted bodies and to alleviate despair. I will update this post occassionally, and will share via Facebook. Please spread the word, especially with others who would like to help – as I encounter groups that need financial support, I will include links.