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Let’s become free together

This piece was written by Skeena Rathor – Extinction Rebellion co-founder, DA Forum Holding Group member, and former Labour Councillor – in response to a condemnatory review of Deep Adaptation in The Ecologist magazine, written by Chris Saltmarsh. She chooses to share this powerful response in counter to the typically unhelpful, superficial, and combative form of reaction on social media.

I am a brown skinned, British born daughter of Kashmiri ancestors. Our original homelands have been invaded by patriarchal colonialism and modernity and its brainchild patriarchal capitalism as described by the work of Vandana Shiva.  The story of which Helena Norberg-Hodge of Local Futures captures in her film on Kashmir.  One of the ways in which we/my family have ‘resisted’ is by continuing to use our hands to eat rather than accepting the “civility” of the technology of the knife and fork.  It has been called “primitive”.  

There are deeply meaningful reasons why we would consciously refuse technologies of the west that are not about our ‘lack’ or “primitivism” but instead our abundance of mind, heart and spirit.  When people of non western and whiteness cultures resist the technologies of the west, often people racialised as white and people programmed in whiteness will use a kind of gaslighting of our ancient cultures – and will make an assumption that what we ‘need’ and want most is the so called ‘progress’ which in reality is often the mal-adaption of the west.

What many of us want and need now is to invite the ‘woke’ yet slumbering culture of the left to do its decolonisation, deep solidarity and Co Liberation work with us.  White supremacy is a programme that runs deep in our bodies and minds and, as research bears out, most anti racism trainings barely touch the sides. 

The constant friction […] on Twitter of people with similar politics feels testament to that – our imprisoned (in scarcity and powerlessness) selves acting out over and over, dividing ourselves, othering and finding fault and blame.  Brothers, especially of whiteness, take a breath with less speaking out and more listening to and in.  Lift onto your broad and beautiful shoulders; women, mothers and women of non whiteness culture – invite them to lead.  Lift our whole human pluriversality, if anyone has the privilege to do so you do – our many ways of knowing and not knowing both countable and uncountable – this is so much more than ‘diversity and inclusion’ training. 

I am done with watching us play out our divisions masquerading as intelligent debate on Twitter feeds, especially my white brothers, your energy for it feels part of the “wetiko”  – it is relentless – feeding and deepening our paradigm of scarcity, separation, powerlessness and soullessness.  Can we bake biscuits and sing together instead and why might this not be sophisticated enough for you?  Through anti-social media streams like Twitter we destroy our true human culture of curiosity, compassion and creativity and birth right to feelings and a heart-set of abundance, connection and power. 

Lets become free together. Lets become safe together and maybe even find our flourishing together, for the very future of humanity and its cousins in the great web of life are depending on this work.  Togetherness and the reunion of the whole human family is the only way – the true acceptance of our many ways of being.  I call this work – Co Liberation.   

Come Chris Saltmarsh and friends, come around the fire, let us swap our stories of these ways of being and becoming, let us heal the wounds and tears this paradigm and system has inflicted on us.  Let’s make kinship, let’s belong together and let’s love who we are and what we have left.   

coliberation, diversity and decolonisation

Comments (3)

  • Susan Rodgers Hammond

    Thank you, Skeena, for your profoundly honest, loving, wise words of how we can heal ourselves and each other. I am taking with me the feeling your words gave, and your beautiful word–co liberation. I also watche the film you mentioned and am carrying that with me and sharing it with my family , friends, and community. Thank you.

  • I was in a meeting last week to choose a new Chief Executive for our District Council – the most important role there is. Addressing the Climate Emergency is top of our agenda and embraced by all seven political groups. There were nine councillors, and we spent four hours, discussing, deliberating, questioning, gently agreeing and disagreeing, listening to each other and shifting our opinions accordingly, before coming to a unanimous decision, based on what we thought was for the common good. I came away thinking that, in our divisive political system, maybe there is some hope after all. I’m not sure how long this outbreak of collaboration will last, but there will certainly be a better sense going forward that we can communicate and make decisions in a different and better way. Thank you for reminding us to “make kinship, let’s belong together and let’s love who we are and what we have left.”

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