At NC Climate Justice Collective events, we often lead this call and response chant we learned from Beautiful Chorus:
The people of the world are gathering
Together we’re creating
A world unafraid of feeling
We’re initiating healing
Rise up, rise up, rise up
We’re gonna rise up, rise up, rise up
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing all of us to feel our shared humanity, so vivid now in our collective vulnerability to the virus. Yet it is also forcing us to deepen our awareness of the exploitative socio-economic system we live in, made evident in how the virus impacts some communities much harder than others.
We at NCCJC are leaning into our “4R’s” framework (Reform, Resist, Re-imagine, Re-create) to learn, plan and respond. We feel moved to share this perspective to support our movement in uncovering the opportunity for lasting social transformation inside of this crisis.
As we re-order every aspect of our daily lives, a new space to Re-imagine a just and life-sustaining world is opening. Through our compassion for all those who are suffering, and by reflecting on what matters most to us, we are re-imagining what constitutes “the good life.”
For some South American indigenous peoples, the notion of “the good life” is expressed through the concept of Buen Vivir which means “we can live well without living better at the expense of others. Workers, community residents, women and Indigenous Peoples around the world have a fundamental human right to clean, healthy and adequate air, water, land, food, education, and shelter. We must have just relationships with each other and with the natural world, of which we are a part. The rights of peoples, communities and nature must supersede the rights of the individual.”
We’re re-imagining how to be in community as human beings rather than human doings, setting aside the conditioning of consumerism and reaching for something more meaningful. We affirm it is healing and necessary to feel deeply what is happening in this moment…and to find gratitude for our interdependence. To do both, we reach for the gifts of artists, embracing the creative cultural work that is an essential aspect of Re-imagining. Here’s a playlist that has helped us sing and cry, processing catastrophic loss while holding firm to the love that abides.
Radical projects of community care are strengthening and taking new forms. We are witnessing a vast array of mutual aid efforts, which we see as central and constitutional of the life-affirming economy we must cultivate. We’ve been reflecting on how to build the Solidarity Economy, which gives us a path to Re-create new economic models that move from temporary mutual aid to permanent cooperative structures.
And, of course, we must leverage all the resources of the current system through engaging in policy Reform. We must win the People’s Bailout, a call for the U.S. Congress to “protect workers and communities, not corporate executives,” in order to provide for a short and long-term Just Recovery.
Finally, we’re called in this moment to get ever more creative about our tactics to Resist structural oppression. Though we can’t gather in person now for protests or direct actions, we can withdraw our consent from any institutions that perpetuate suffering rather than ease it. This is the time for mass non-cooperation through general strikes, rent strikes, and boycotts of media outlets that spread misinformation, allow hate speech, or support fear-mongering.
We affirm that we are unafraid to feel and our collective courage enables us to keep on Reforming, Resisting, Re-imagining, and Re-creating. Let us rise up, rise up, RISE UP!
With care and hope,
Jodi Lasseter and Connie Leeper
NCCJC Co-Conveners and members of the Collective's Leadership Team