Radical Support

It’s no secret that the world right now is a complete and utter dumpster fire. People who are already marginalized by systems that are hundreds of years in the making are under direct attack by the current administration and the many hate groups around the world. It’s easy to feel hopeless, powerless, and depressed by everything that is going on. After all, we’re only relatively insignificant individuals with no real power. What can we do in the face of such great acts of evil?

A group effort

However, this problem isn’t a new one. While things might be escalating quite a bit right now, the problems that created this situation aren’t new and there have been moments throughout history that reflect what is going on currently. Great evils happen in every generation in every country. Each time, people hit a point where they can’t take anymore and rise up to defeat the great evil, then say “never again!” without irony, despite the fact that it always happens again.

The hero’s journey narrative which has permeated our culture since Beowulf tells us this story that an individual will rise up, possibly with some mystic help, and face the great evil head on to defeat it. We even write this narrative into our history books and call out the heroes of our time. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Winston Churchill, Malcom X, and Gandhi are all familiar names to us because we raise them up as heroes for the ages. These special individuals saved us from the great evils that were facing us at the time.

There’s no doubt that these people were heroes. They were extremely brave and took great personal risks in the face of great danger. However, I would argue that they weren’t inherently special. Many other people took similar risks but weren’t in the right place at the right time to succeed in a way that the history books remember them. The bus protest that Rosa Parks is associated with was an organized effort between many people to do a coordinated protest. Winston Churchill would have been powerless to fight against the Nazis if it weren’t for soldiers and ordinary citizens risking their lives every day.

The same is true today. While some people like to hold up certain members of the public as the heroes to rally behind such as Barak Obama or Bernie Sanders, the truth is that most of the hard work is being done by ordinary people doing extraordinary things and risking their lives. Groups like Black Lives Matter, antifa, and the Ovarian Psychos are all made up of people just like us trying to make a difference in the world.

It all starts somewhere

So, what can we do? Not many of us are born revolutionaries and it’s hard enough to keep your life from falling apart when everything else isn’t on fire all the time. The idea of joining these movements and getting on the front lines is understandably terrifying for many. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something.

Enter the idea of Radical Support.  Radical Support is the concept that by supporting the most vulnerable in your communities to a greater degree than is generally socially expected, you can build the foundation that your community needs to weather the storm that it’s enduring. The Black Panthers did this in the early 1970s by starting a free breakfast program for kids. Citizens risking their lives to hide and smuggle Jews out of Nazi territory during the Holocaust is another prime example. So was all of the groups donating supplies for the protestors at Standing Rock.

But there are a number of ways that we can practice this principle every day that don’t involve picking and choosing a large movement to support. Instead, we can help fight the fatigue from the world being constantly on fire by helping out more than we normally would in our own communities. After all, think about everything that you could do if you had just a bit more time, energy, and resources. If we help other people to have a bit more breathing room, they can do the same for us and together we all become stronger.

There are as many ways to do this as there are people in this world, so think to your strengths and what is easy for you, but might be harder for others.

  • Are you really good at finding and applying for jobs? Help your friends who are un- or underemployed by helping them look for jobs, reviewing their resumes, and making connections for them.
  • Do you love to cook? Find people in your community who are often lacking on time and energy such as single parents and offer to cook for them when you cook for yourself. Organize community potlucks to keep everyone fed. Start your own breakfast program.
  • Are you an expert at one craft or another? Use that craft to help others with their basic needs. Make a huge batch of soap and help your community stock up. Make herbal medicines for folks to help them reduce their medical expenses for minor illnesses and injuries. Teach others your craft and give them a way to help others in return.
  • Do you have a green thumb? Turn your lawn into an edible landscape and share your bounty with your neighbors to help reduce food deserts in urban areas and increase access to healthier, less processed food.
  • Do you love kids or animals? Offer to give parents in your community a break by babysitting their kids or organizing playdates between a few different kids. Take care of people’s animals when they leave town.
  • Are you extremely social? Then organize your friends to help each other in these ways and give back to the community. After all, if you have a small group of people specializing in different areas, you can work on complimentary projects, vastly increasing the efficiency of your efforts.

Will these actions alone make a big difference in the world? Probably not. After all, we still need to be fighting the good fight and taking organized resistance actions. However, these actions can greatly increase the energy and resources that a community has to organize and fight, especially when supporting people and asking them to pass it forward as they are able. After all, a supported community is a strong community.

2 Replies to “Radical Support”

    1. Thank you! You’re a huge inspiration in my life, especially around things like this. ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s