What does it mean to give? How can we attend to our communities? What does giving mean beyond the context of corporate philanthropy, virtue signaling, and tax breaks? In order to bring communities and interpersonal support become more centered in discussions of how we all can help each other, the notions of charity and philanthropy are being re-framed and balanced by the concept of mutual aid. What is mutual aid? Here’s more from Climate Justice Alliance:
Mutual aid consists of the collective actions it takes to support community wellbeing and reaffirm that all lives have inherent value. We all have needs and we are all capable of helping each other to fulfill some of these needs. This approach is distinctively egalitarian and rooted in reciprocity and agency.
A common principle of mutual aid is “solidarity, not charity.” Charity has an inherent imbalance; it moves resources from places of abundance to places deemed as needy, a deficit-based perspective instead of one based on the values and abundance already present within communities. It also places agency in the hands of the “giver” to decide who is most “deserving” of support. In fact, sometimes charity can do more harm than good because often people outside of the community dictate what the community itself needs rather than based on what the community itself knows it needs.
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