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Everything Counts: A Resource Guide for Loving Action amid Crisis in the Middle East

by Adana Protonentis

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Kindred Resource Guide Everything Counts.
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When I see great pain in the world, I have to fight against feelings of helplessness. The hurt is so big and my ability to stop it can feel so very small. I look for things to do and nothing feels big enough, meaningful enough, powerful enough. I can get stuck in a cycle of powerlessness that keeps me from recognizing the options that are accessible to me, right here and right now. I can forget that feeling is an action. I can forget that learning is an action. I can forget that bearing witness is an action. I can forget that teaching is an action.

We somehow receive the message that very little actually “counts” as action. We’re bombarded with the narrative that if your action doesn’t solve the problem (and quickly!), then it isn’t enough or it doesn’t count. That the things we actually can do are too small to matter. Not only is this untrue, but it keeps us from trying to make change. It makes us feel helpless, which maintains the status quo.

What is true is that there are many forms of action, they all count, and we need all of them. A couple of years ago I read this great article from Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith about the 7 types of rest that all humans need. Dr. Dalton-Smith beautifully explains the idea that we need different types of rest and, when we don’t get them, we’ll feel tired, even if we’re getting a lot of one type of rest. The 7 types of rest are physical, mental, emotional, sensory, creative, social, and spiritual.

In times of great social pain and injustice, we need different types of action, just as we need different types of rest in times of exhaustion. When we’re cut off from a balanced range of actions, we feel helpless and ineffective. If we only march and donate, we feel unsatisfied and incomplete, because those actions can only nourish parts of us. If we only feel the pain and grief and believe we are unable to do something tangible with those feelings, we might feel stuck in despair and entombed in feelings that are too big for our bodies to metabolize.

What might shift for you (or your team or your organization) if the very things you have capacity for are enough? Not enough to solve the problem, because no single action or person can solve the problem, but enough for today, for your part? What if it's all necessary, and each of us can carry/hold different parts at different times? What if you received the same recognition and affirmation for feeling the intense grief of this moment as for marching and calling your legislators? For learning about the history that got us here and for sending flowers to your local mosque and synagogue? What if it all counts? What if we need a balanced diet of actions, just like we need balanced nutrition?

What actions nourish your heart? Your spirit? Your body? Your community? Your humanity? What actions show our beloved community that we love them with our hands, our hearts, our minds, and our spirits?

When we get trapped in the narrative that there is “only one right way” to show up and speak up, we are cut off from being as whole as possible. And these are the moments when it is critical that we be as whole as possible, that we honor our whole selves as we work toward liberation for all people.

In the words of Aurora Levins Morales,

It is part of our task as revolutionary people, people who want deep-rooted, radical change, to be as whole as it is possible for us to be. This can only be done if we face the reality of what oppression really means in our lives, not as abstract systems subject to analysis, but as an avalanche of traumas leaving a wake of devastation in the lives of real people who nevertheless remain human, unquenchable, complex and full of possibility.

This guide consists of resources to support us in taking action physically, mentally, emotionally, creatively, socially, and spiritually. We are real people, standing up for real people, who are human, unquenchable, complex, and full of possibility. Let us bring that spirit with us as we meet this moment.

Physical Action

Mental/Intellectual Action

Emotional Action

Creative Action

Think of Others

by Mahmoud Darwish

As you prepare your breakfast, think of others (do not forget the pigeon’s food). As you conduct your wars, think of others (do not forget those who seek peace). As you pay your water bill, think of others (those who are nursed by clouds). As you return home, to your home, think of others (do not forget the people of the camps). As you sleep and count the stars, think of others (those who have nowhere to sleep). As you liberate yourself in metaphor, think of others (those who have lost the right to speak). As you think of others far away, think of yourself (say: “If only I were a candle in the dark”).

Social Action

Spiritual Action

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