11 things that make Aazer very unique

For the past few years we have been constantly concerned with the social inequality we all suffer from, with poor access to education, health care, and other human necessities

We believe that every single person on this planet should have access to enough resources to live a dignified life, to have enough access to education and health care, and to live in freedom from want and freedom from fear

For this, we are currently building “Aazer”  the first online cooperative platform that brings people globally in solidarity with each other.

A platform where people can communicate, organize and democratically decide on how to support each other in a flexible, immediate, and sustainable way.

1- How it works

It’s simple, when joining the Aazer platform, everyone drops a monthly donation anywhere from 1 to 25$. This will be the platform’s sustainable fund for non-profit solidarity actions. The solidarity actions are proposed by all members of Aazer.

Then in a voting process that happens each month, all the members of Aazer vote how to distribute the fund based on most needed solidarity actions.

Money is then distributed to top voted solidarity actions until all the money available this month is used.

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2- It’s a continuously growing financial fund dedicated to global change.

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Uniquely Aazer will generate a sustainable budget every month that is accessible to the members of the Aazer platform so that they can financially support their causes, beloved family members, friends, community or even themselves.

3- It’s a decentralized and non-hierarchical community.

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The Aazer platform brings people globally in solidarity with each other. The Aazer platform unites people from all over the world to support each other morally and financially. Members of The Aazer platform have access to the monthly budget, everyone has the opportunity to propose a solidarity action and receive fund to fulfill it.

4- Aazer is definitely not another NGO.

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We don’t ask our members to donate money so that “we” can simply take it and finance personal projects that we believe will change the world. We facilitate the transactions of money among members while encouraging members to execute their own solidarity projects. The Aazer platform’s objective is to democratize financing while bringing together a united front of members that share a belief in a better future.

5- Aazer is not another crowdfunding platform.

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It’s not about putting money into one action, or how rich your donors are.  It’s about growing a sustainable fund that everyone has access to, and which is given to the most pressing issues through a democratic decision-making process.

6- Aazer is flexible.

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Anyone can create a project that they’re passionate about.  Anyone can call for the global support they need. Anyone have the resources to change the lives of the people they care about.

7- Aazer is independent.

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Members fund together, decide together, and work together. Imagine the power of people coming together and solving their own problems as well as giving assistance to other projects all over the world.

8- It’s a community that democratically decides how their budget is used.

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The Aazer members decide collectively on how to distribute the monthly budget through a democratic voting process. All members of the Aazer platform have the same number of votes regardless of their monthly contribution.

9- Closed community

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The Aazer platform is a closed circle of members who come together to support each other. The Aazer members are the  donors, receivers and project designers. Members of the Aazer community can always request fund to support themselves.

10- Open community

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Members of the Aazer platform can receive fund not only to support themselves but also other people they know (not necessarily members in the Aazer cooperative). They could also receive fund to work on a project that supports their own community.

 

11- Members of the Aazer community

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The Aazer platform is an online cooperative platform with a unified front of citizens that are motivated by one common objective: to socially, morally and financially support each other as global agents of transformative change.

Join the first online cooperative platform

VENSENYA: Changing Mindsets through entertainment education

“I can’t do it!” often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of underprivileged teenagers

The goal of the Berlin-based social startup VENSENYA is to change the mindset of underprivileged youth from a negative rhetoric into a positive one. The thought is that when a person decides in their head that they can’t accomplish something, they won’t.

The goal of VENSENYA is to encourage those who doubt themselves to reframe the way in which they think. This is done by edutainment, where role-models show teenagers what can happen and in turn teenagers start seeing a challenge they can overcome instead of a problem with no way out.

VENSENYA understands that it is easier for teenagers to engage through familiar channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube where they can access interviews, blogs and even web series while sharing their own excitement for the brand #kämpfergeist which means “fighter spirit”.

This unique ability allows the teens to share their own stories which is one of the best ways to encourage positive actions.

Scene of two brothers who are the heroes of the webseries - and thereby act as role-models

Scene of two brothers who are the heroes of the web series – and thereby act as role-models

Mindset can make or break a person

Recently Aazer sat down with Simon Turschner the founder of VENSENYA to find out more about his social business that would be changing the mindset of teenagers.  

For Simon life has led him to where he needs to be and it has been a rewarding experience.

At first, he was happy studying Molecular Biotechnology and doing cancer research quite successfully. “I really liked it, and I was successful also. But I didn’t want to be in the lab my whole life, that was not my passion,” said Simon.

But when the opportunity came at Teach First Deutschland he jumped at the chance and for two years Simon worked in a low-income community school. Simon was driven by the desire to change the education system to be fairer and at the same time learn leadership skills in this very challenging environment.

According to Simon, the one difference holding underprivileged kids back is mindset. “In these two years, I experienced that the core problem for these underprivileged kids, besides everything else, is their mindset “.

He then added, “They tended to come from a belief system where they thought they would never be able to get ahead, that they were not good enough. It was a vicious cycle that they themselves believed was true. Eventually, it becomes true when those negative words keep circling around a person’s head. ” 

That’s when Simon felt it was his time to give back to his community since he was lucky enough to live a life of privilege. From that point, Simon started his journey working on VENSENYA

Presentation at Falling Walls Lab in Berlin as innovator of the year finalist 2014

Presentation at Falling Walls Lab in Berlin as innovator of the year finalist 2014

Passion can turn mindset around

The idea was that once the underprivileged youth was able to reframe their thinking into a positive, I can do it attitude they were often able to turn around their academics.

That was when Simon used his passion for media to help transform others. He went this route because it would be easily accessible to the masses out there, not just a person here and there.

He was inspired by a telenovela out of Mexico in the 70s that had the ability to reach the masses with entertainment–education. It snowballed because it was cost effective and had the ability to reach thousands of people quickly that were inspired to sign up to literacy courses.

It is all about people finding a connection with inspiring stories and people that influence others in a positive way. The mindset of those who struggle is channeled in a more positive way and that in itself brings on the difference, helping change occur.

Simon (middle) and his VENSENYA teammates Anette and Timon

That is where VENSENYA came into play

Various key players from the youth to the script writer, filmmakers, and even a coach worked together to bring about the perfect ideas that would cause the mindset of the youth to change into a more positive outlook.

To do this they made sure that their web video series is something that would catch the attention of the young people. Bringing young people into the collaboration piece ensured that it would turn the heads of other youth and create interest among them.

Hopes for VENSENYA

The goal is that this starts a firestorm which passes the value onto others by sharing the way it works and how it can help turn around communities that are struggling.

It only takes one person and one idea to change the world in a positive way and this can help to positively inspire many people to think in a light that will help them become stronger. By becoming stronger in their visions of themselves and what they can do by channeling positive energy.

The hope is that they can encourage others to do the same. They will do this by using the phrase #kämpfergeist which means fighter spirit and the hope is that it will ignite allowing others to pass it along through their network of friends.

The goal is to empower as many people as possible.

There is going to be a website, but it is more of a fluid network that can be passed along through all the different methods of social media. The goal is to encourage people to allow their mind to flow into a positive place so that they can and will accomplish anything they go after.

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Simon Turschner

Founder & CEO of VENSENYA

Berlin, Germany

 

At Hamtramck Soup Solidarity is the Goal

At a time, when there are crises going on throughout the world a group of people have decided to do something about it.

They understand that they cannot snap their fingers and automatically change the world, but that doesn’t stop them. It is a realisation that every small step together creates a movement greater than oneself and that is how differences are made.

Their efforts start close to home in the neighbourhood where they live but has a ripple effect deeper into the hearts of those who attend their potlucks.

Reminding people of their similarities

Everyone eats, and it often brings people together in a peaceful manner, similar to the first settlers in the United States.

It helps us remember that people are people. By bringing people into a common place where they can meet, friendship blossoms and plans for bettering the community are made.

Through this time of fellowship and warmth, people are encouraged to return on a regular basis to see once strangers who are now friends.
Hamtramck Soup came out of the larger organisation Detroit soup about 3 years ago. Their purpose is to bring the various cultures together for one common goal and that is to make a difference in their community.

They concentrate their efforts on helping small groups and individuals as well as businesses that have a community improvement idea, but lack the resources to bring it to fruition. They have volunteers that sit on the board running a section of the soup.

Because arts and culture bring understanding

The group has a board member that organises this portion. To increase interest, as well as learning, they have someone from the arts perform or display their artwork during the potluck.
This allows for entertainment and culture to collide. It is part of the intrigue that brings community members together. The group has had musicians, artists, and performers who have been a part of it for a long time.

Understanding the arts of other cultures is also a fantastic way to bridge the great divide between nations living together in the same community.

When people have a chance to truly delve into other cultures they can see that they are more similar than unique.

We all have rituals, beliefs and differences, but it is our common threads that hold us together once we are able to meet each other and gain an understanding.

Diversity is at the top of the list

One of the most complicated, yet most important pieces of the soup is diversity. We live in a world where there are people of every race, colour, and creed, to bring them together can be a struggle.

They speak different languages and have different culture norms, but love is what binds us together and why it is a must to unite.

Megan is a board member who has been appointed as diversity chair to bring in everyone not just African American or Caucasian. They have Polish, Asian, Yemenis, and Bosnian that currently attend just to name some.

Everyone is welcome and that is the goal, to bridge the divide and work together. Being the most diverse city neighbourhood it is important.

Because of the differences, it is also one of the biggest challenges according to Megan. It is necessary to be able to translate everything into the different languages so that communication can happen.

She oversees that all of the paperwork is translated and fliers are run in languages like Bengali and Arabic. So that people are able to attend and feel like they are part of something greater than themselves.

Talking to people, in the top offices to see what they can do to help motivate communities to come out of their segregated areas is a huge part of it.

As you can imagine, with all the different cultures it will continue to be a hard thing to accomplish, but the most important one.

Bringing different types of people together is a must. If the cultures of the world were able to interact peacefully, there wouldn’t be the same degree of misunderstanding that there is on this earth today and it starts in your own backyard.

Don’t just read about it get involved

The goal is to raise money so that it can be given back to the community in some respect. There are anywhere from 50 to 100 people that attend each event.

When people attend the dinner not only are they there to listen to music and eat, but to also hear from various individuals, community groups, and even children pitching a community project that needs funding.

Projects must help the community in some way and if they win then they get the money that is donated.

Money is donated when people arrive, and you can only vote on one of the projects if you have made a donation.

Each donation gets a slip. Everyone is allowed to donate at will, meaning some might donate $1 and other may donate $10. It is completely up to the individual making the donation.

That is the money that benefits the winner along with a stipend from the Detroit soup and proceeds from the sale of beverages.

There is no preconceived notion of how much the winner will get prior to the event, but normally the events earn between $500 and $1000.

Then the winner is invited back to the next event. At the next event, they will be presenting how it went to the group in attendance.

This is a great way to increase participation and excite people about the good it is doing in the community. Because the participants each get to pitch their idea at times the people who didn’t win might get lucky.

They say that success is often, right time and place, the soup is no different.

People who pitch might be heard by someone who is interested in helping their project and that is how the waves start rippling through the pond.

One person states an idea and others that agree with it, jump in to assist because they really liked the concept or just plain see a need for it.

Community boards in the back of the room hold questions from both participants and attendees. The events are also a great way for the city to come together and communicate about various projects and needs within the town.

It helps people to stay informed about what is going on in the city of Hamtramck, Michigan. The event is held quarterly in the smaller cities and monthly in the city of Detroit.

Types of community projects that have benefitted from the soup

Because any community group can pitch at the soup often times, kids pitch a need. A traveling soccer team needed to get to and from their matches and had no way of getting back and forth due to lack of resources.

They won and were able to use the funds to help purchase a van. This allowed kids in the community to continue to participate in something that was important to them. Keeping kids off the street is a great benefit for the entire community.

Another local teacher and her class saw a need for a park and used the money they received to better the community that way.

They were able to clean it up and pay to put in equipment. Now it is a place all can go to enjoy. These sort of projects truly enrich the community.

Another time, there was a mechanic named Jeff who had noticed there was no local program giving young men and women the skills they needed to become a mechanic.

He was able to start up a program at the high school level helping teach those interested. His program was even blessed with a car someone donated.

Good things happening all around and they are not all on such large scales even smaller projects happen.

There have been art exhibits funded as well. Soup kitchen’s feeding the needy have been helped as well. You name it if it benefits the community, the group has helped raised the funds to assist.

The soup has served as a place for people to come eat, whether they donate money or not they are never turned away.

In a time when many go without food, this a beautiful sentiment and you never know who they will connect with by being at these events. Perhaps, they too will be helped. It really is all about community.

Volunteers making a difference in their community

Megan is just one of many volunteers working to bring the Hamtramck Soup to the forefront. Like others, she works a full-time job on top of what she does for her community.

There are 12 other soup groups in the area plus the larger one in Detroit proper. The differences they are making in their community are so important. They have done so much more than to assist the select winners.

In addition, they have worked to bring the community as a whole together. They are a prime example of the importance of solidarity in this world.

It is hopeful that more of these will begin to pop up throughout the United States.

Continuing to make a difference by bringing people in the community close to one another binding them for a common cause. In closing, we will leave you with a quote from Megan that is very poignant.

 “The people who live in the community have more interest and say in what happens there, and should not just leave it up to whoever has political power.”

What if we spend 12 million dollars an hour on education, health care and aid instead of this!

It is time for us to reclaim what peace really means. Peace is unsustainable without justice and equality. A sustainable peace is one in which the majority of people on this planet have access to enough resources to live dignified lives, where people have enough access to education and health care, so that they can live in freedom from want and freedom from fear. This is called human security.

Where the money goes?
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Globally, annual expenditure on nuclear weapons is estimated at US$105 billion – or $12 million an hour!– All this money is going to modernize weapons we do not need, that we cannot get rid of in our lifetime unless we take an action to make it happen, unless we really understand the elements that make human security. Security is about having access to medical healthcare, medical equipment, to education, to empower our human values over growth and money, it’s about taking action.

We need to redefine what makes us secure in this world.

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It is not arming our country to the teeth. It is not getting other countries to arm themselves to the teeth with the weapons that we produce and we sell them. It is using that money more rationally to make the countries of the world secure, in other words, to make the people of the world secure.

We need to sustainably give people (including us)

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access to that amount of money so that they can be able to develop themselves and thrive, instead of living in the illusion of feeling safe because we can crush everyone else on this planet. The good news here is that nowadays we have the technology that can turn such dream into reality. Well, we don’t have to wait for someone else to do it, so we have already started working on it.

That is what we offer through Aazer,

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A technological solution empowered by a revolutionary model for democratizing money that not only gives people access to resources to help themselves and/or others, but also put them in charge, make their voice heard and count.

I want to leave you with one thought, how many people (including you) can help themselves or others by having access not only to 12 million dollars an hour but also to a supportive community?

GET INVOLVED

When we stand together, we will transform not only our lives but also the lives of the people we care about, and we are starting NOW. We are currently reaching like minded people like you!

Write your email in the “COUNT ME IN” form: To be informed when Aazer goes LIVE. We are eager to get your thoughts on Aazer and get in touch with you personally to tell you other details about our next big step. Don’t worry; we won’t shower you with unnecessarily emails. Our updates will be short and very specific. You will receive 1 or 2 emails from Aazer every month.

COUNT ME IN

No one chooses to be homeless – The story of a Catholic Worker

I believe in human dignity and I believe in justice. Being homeless is not just, nor is it dignifying to the human being. No one chooses to be homeless, it is the result of a racist and corrupt system bent on the destruction of the poor so that others can flourish.

It’s disgusting, and something should be done – this is one of the ways in which I contribute to the fight. We are all connected to each other – by our nature, by biology, and by spirits. Jesus said to love each other as our very own brothers and sisters – this is one of the ways I love my brothers and sisters.

This is how it started

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Initially I became involved in the Catholic Worker at the request of a college professor that was looking for assistance in preparing the Saturday meal. I volunteered, enjoyed my time and continued to come back for the Saturday meal.

About a month into the experience, I had a run in with a woman that was violently mentally ill – no harm came to me, but it intimidated me enough to keep me away from the shelter for nearly a year. After awhile I returned – having learned more about the Catholic Worker movement itself and understanding the ethos behind it – and was accepted as a Catholic Worker.

All of our roles center around servicing the poor.

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This involves not only cooking and sheltering (during the months of Oct – Apr) but also providing clothing, sometimes bus tickets, sometimes rental/utility bill assistance, sometimes groceries – the list goes on. If we’re able to help, we do.

I work in an area of the house called Hospitality. It’s the front room where the guests sit and socialize while they’re waiting for lunch to be served. I’m one of the first faces you see when you walk through the door. I assist in getting mail, clothing, food, toiletries, hygiene packs, information regarding services, shower supplies, etc. Mostly what I do is talk with people and listen.

Your heart will break every day, but you have to be able to maintain compassion

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I think not allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by the misery that you can see while working in the shelters and soup kitchens is something major to contend with. Your heart will break every day for the people you come to know, but you really have to be able to maintain compassion without allowing it to swallow you whole.

If you do, you’re not helping anyone. Also, dealing with people that have done some pretty awful things and people who you simply don’t like – but still treating these people with genuine respect, kindness and love. Find out more stories here

How I keep going

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The men I serve motivate me to keep coming back. I want to be one of the people in their lives that they know will not judge them for their actions, but rather loves them in the way that everyone should be loved; unconditionally.

And No, I never thought of leaving the shelter

Why a magic stick is useless to the shelter

Magic can do nothing for the shelter. The shelter isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom. The homeless, the impoverished and the marginalized are the symptoms of a corrupt system. If I had a magic stick to wave, then I’d say that I’d wish for the people in the US to open their eyes to see the system for what it is rather than be misdirected by the latest celebrity scandal.

Honestly, it’s not going to matter how much money I give them unless the system is changed. We have horrible inner city schooling, high dropout rates, poor to little access to health care and when there is that health care is ridiculously high priced.

You have jobs that pay so poorly that people can’t survive on the wages – they have to rely on government programs that, when you look at them closely, are designed not to assist people but to drive them deeper and deeper into poverty.

Until we construct legislation that benefits the lowest rungs in our society, no amount of money will help because they’ll just end up right back at the beginning.

One last thought

Love each other…. then band together so that we can rip down an unjust government. What benefits the lowest rungs of our society, benefits us all. The sooner we understand that, the sooner we will truly be free.

Find out more stories here

Sharing our stories say something about what it means to be human. get in touch and tell us yours.

Support the Grassroots Movement in Jerusalem

Donate here

We are based in Jerusalem, the isolated capital of an occupied country, where disempowerment is used as a tool of displacement. Palestinians here face unlawful arrests, land confiscations and home demolitions while lacking proper economic development, infrastructure building and sufficient education and health systems. It’s all a part of Israel’s plans for Jerusalem: to keep a “demographic balance” of 70% Israeli and 30% Palestinian.

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Donate here

At Grassroots Jerusalem, we contribute to the creation of a long-term Palestinian strategy for Jerusalem by amplifying the voices of Palestinian communities so that they set the agenda for the city, not the international community. For the last 5 years, we’ve been providing tools for Jerusalemites to share their vision for Jerusalem. We create maps, give tours, run an online platform, and host events and workshops at our hub: “al-Marsa” (The Harbour).

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Donate here

Until now, Grassroots Jerusalem has received financial support mainly through project based, short-term and top down frameworks (except for our first core-funding grant). No relevant, efficient and lasting work can be concretely implemented with such limitations. Through our work with Palestinian communities and grassroots organisations, we have discovered that they share the same experience with international aid.

Since the Oslo agreement, the world through international aid has supported the imported “peace process.” This international aid primarily designs, coordinates and implements actions as if Palestine was a humanitarian crisis, a 67 year old emergency humanitarian crisis! Most of the civil services are provided by these unrepresentative entities to help the Palestinians merely survive under this occupation. While Palestinians expect the international community to focus on ending the occupation, this approach stifles the genuine grassroots movement organising to resist it.

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Donate here

Development and advocacy in Jerusalem are dependent on international NGO (INGO) and UN humanitarian support. However, current programmes perpetuate the notion that the Israeli occupation of Palestine is a humanitarian disaster. They provide aid which helps Palestinians “survive under occupation,” not end it, which normalises military occupation and economic colonisation. This perception has kept long-term development stifled while granting consecutive Israeli governments carte blanche to develop mass settlements and neglect obligations to international law and occupied Jerusalem residents.

Palestinians expected the international community to support their struggle to end the occupation and ensure freedom and dignity. Instead, short-term projects using top-down frameworks, have prevented Palestinian leadership from strategising in sustainable ways and perpetuated the need for humanitarian aid. This cycle has created an “INGO industrial complex” that has become a rampant problem in the global South. It makes Palestinian civil society and grassroots leadership dependent on short term funding cycles for programmes with no coordinated vision that are authorised by international staff who are neither elected nor permanent residents of the city. The INGOisation of the occupation unintentionally draws the attention away from the real problem (occupation!) with increasingly privatised systems. It should be called what it is in the bigger picture: Benevolent Colonialism.

By implementing project-based, short-term plans and acting without accountability to the local community, the INGO industrial complex disempowers Palestinian leadership and organisations and inhibits the development of grassroots movements, long-term visions, and political change. Beyond the failure of the current model to effect systemic change, this model has spawned the unintended consequence of fostering a widespread, cynical soul and destroying independent initiative. It has cultivated a reliance on and expectation of the perpetuation of this type of outside assistance. In order to sustain our work, we must break from this limiting system of international aid by imagining alternative methods of sustainable funding.

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Donate here

In the past, we have been forced to rely on short-term project-based grants fundamentally inconsistent with the needs of the Palestinian community and our organization’s vision.  If an authentic and sustainable change to the oppressive staus quo is to come, this must change. Your support today will plant the seeds of this future.  We know we can’t rely on you alone for support, but it will enable us to invest in diversified revenue streams that can sustain us into the future and serve as a model to our many grassroots partners.

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Donate here

The money we raise will be used to publish the second edition of Wujood (our political tourist guide book on Jerusalem), complete our mapping project by publishing a comprehensive Jerusalem atlas, and train more Jerusalemite guides in order to expand our tours.

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Donate here

Here’s where you come in. We know you don’t want to give us money and then have us come back around asking for more all the time. That’s why we’re asking you to dig a little deeper just this one time and help us speed toward economic independence.

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Grassroots Jerusalem Website

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Why solidarity matters on a spiritual and practical level

To me, solidarity is the most pressing issue we routinely ignore. Solidarity is the expression of   our unity, the willingness to stand up for our brothers and sisters we have never met, to decry injustice that we have not experienced personally, to feel the pain of people half way around the world.

In our modern society, we are ruled by institutions and systems that are designed to classify and separate people; imaginary nation states, religion, capitalism, politics and “ethnicity” are used to draw lines between “us” and “others”.

This is both a spiritual and a practical problem, and is not the natural state of being.

I believe our natural state is of oneness, that when we free ourselves from these conditioned beliefs we come to recognize our interconnectedness.

Solidarity on a spiritual level

The spiritual element to this is that the imaginary divisions disconnect us not only from each other, but also from our true selves. These institutions make us selfish, only concerned for our own condition. This causes a cognitive and emotional dissonance that is disastrous to people’s psyche. By denying our natural state, we are forced to suppress natural emotions and ignore our surroundings.

Humans are social, empathetic beings, we feel a natural connection to other beings, we can internalize and feel what others are experiencing.  People  are affected by the emotions and feelings of others. Anyone who has been to a concert or sports event knows the feeling of being swept up by a crowd’s energy.

Most of us have experienced our mood change  when we walk into a room filled with people we love. This is not only a localized phenomenon. Love and compassion are the same from one corner of the globe to the other.

A Chinese person loves their children the same as an American. An Arab who looses a brother or sister suffers as much as an African. An Australian seeing a neighbor suffering cares in the same way that a Colombian does. This is the natural state of being. If a woman sees an infant in need, she does not stop to ask what country they were born in,  what religion their parents practice or what political party they may support one day, she just wants to comfort and help it.

Solidarity on a practical level

On a practical level, unity and solidarity is the only way to change the current unhealthy state of existence and stop oppression so many experience. A good example from our recent past,is the demise of South African apartheid, which was the result of people all around the world pressuring their governments and the S.A. govt.

After it fell, people all around the world felt elation and joy for people they never met being freed from an oppression.

Another good example is the surge in donations and volunteerism that happens after a natural disaster. When an earthquake or flood devastates a region, people from all around the world sympathize and pitch in, and people on both sides of the equation, the donors and the recipients, feel better about themselves and the world.

Challenges out there

Systems and governments will not change because of individual voices, they are meta-level controls that require everyone to speak out, to divest of and oppose the wrongs, before change can occur.

The reason solidarity seems so far away at this point in time is because of institutions and systems that are set up to divide us. This is the oldest strategy for controlling people, divide and conquer. These systems are designed to categorize beings, to draw lines between illusory groups, which forces us to see people either as one of “us” or as an “other”.

This inherently dehumanizes the others, which is internalized and allows people to become uncaring or even hostile towards our brothers and sisters who do not resemble or agree with us.

But together we can change this!

 

My experience as the “other” man

For me personally, this started growing up as a white British immigrant to Canada, I had the opportunity to listen to people talking about “immigrants”. By immigrants, they meant Asians, Africans, Arabs, people with accents and different cultures, people who are easily identifiable as “other”.

While they were talking about “others”, in my mind, I could not get over the fact that I was an immigrant, and the only difference between me and them was the color of my skin and my ability to quickly adopt a Canadian accent.

This lead me to gravitate to those “others”, and I always found I had more in common with them than I did with the people talking down to them.

 

I am proud to stand in solidarity with people I have never met, whose countries I may never visit, because I believe that all living beings are interconnected, that unity is the natural state of being. The illusory divisions not only separate us from each other, but disconnect us from our true selves. As whole free beings, we realize the we are one with each other, with animals and with the earth.

These systems are supposed to force us to be concerned only with our own well-being, to ignore the suffering of others, to believe that we are unable to do anything. These are all patently untrue.

My message to people everywhere

aazer.org

especially people suffering from oppression and injustice is simple: There are people all over the world who care, and are actively working to make this a better place for everyone. I am only one of millions and millions. No one is alone, and there is love for everyone.

The reason I feel so passionately about standing in solidarity with people all over the world can be summed up by the famous quote by Ghandi “an injustice to one is an injustice to all”. When people suffer, we all suffer. The pain and negative emotions resonate out and effect the world around it.

This is both an energetic/ spiritual idea, but also a practical one. If we sit idle while people are oppressed in one part of the world, it empowers the systems and institutions to spread, and it will not be long before people in other parts of the world also suffer from that oppression.

The only way to stop these institutions and systems is for everyone to stand up to them in solidarity.

And it is happening more and more. All across the globe, black, white, Asian, Arab, Latino, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Siek, Atheist, rich and poor, people are realizing our oneness and standing up for each other.

 

Obi-Anon

Brother of all people

 

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