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Casa Laura Issue 1 July 2020

Why I Want to Live in a Catholic Worker House

by Elsie Luna (age 11)

There is no simple answer.

When I was younger, my family and I hosted refugees and asylum seekers, along with people from around Europe for one month each. The experience of having other people, and new people, around is always amazing: you can learn new skills, do stuff with new people and learn about people.

In this society, travelling freely across the world and making community is not widely welcomed. We are told by society that we are supposed to wait for government to change things and to help us in our lives on many aspects.

Firstly, it’s important to consider the fact that the government isn’t a person, and the real change always has something to do with people. So it does anyway, secretly, end up having something to do with an average person who isn’t in government themselves.

The government does not want us to realise that we (the average person not in government themselves) have the power and ability to change stuff. What would happen if every one of us knew that we did have the ability to change stuff ourselves?

Well, we would start making self organising systems. We would teach each other what we know about how to change stuff and how to make sure that we both change it to the right thing and change it not against anyone’s will.

At that stage, when community is beginning to form and we are making new friends and meeting new people, the government will inevitably try to stop us (from overthrowing the government system).

Starting with what they will say: They will say that they have everything in control. They will say that if there isn’t state/government, it will take ages to make decisions. They will make conspiracy theories.

They will take action. They will over-police. They will disperse crowds of happy people. They will cordon off areas.

Now, assuming that the people still magically know that they are correct, there will be mass rebellion. Mass movements. Mass people on the streets, organising, in building organising, working things out, solving social problems, providing trainings and guidance…

Stop. This isn’t happening. And there is only one key element we’re missing…

The average person who isn’t in government themselves don’t tend to know that they have power themselves. Ok, so now the picture is obvious. We just need to somehow spread the message that we do really have power. So, let me suggest a few possible answers.

  • Making a mass movement. In theory, it sounds good. You make a small movement with a few people. You start spreading the word to friends and family. You then, with your 4 or 5 people, do some kind of action, as in, block a road, airport, train station, or do some kind of publicity stunt like that. You then make it to the front pages of newspapers, and you get lots of publicity… Stop. This isn’t happening either. The truth is, people have already tried doing this, and, obviously, it hasn’t exactly worked. Either that or it dwindled away because people didn’t have that knowing that they were correct, or it actually just did something wrong within itself anyway. So, you could argue that you could just make another one… I mean, I don’t have all the answers for you, but short and simply, people have tried. You can make up a completely new type of movement if you want. (I can’t tell you not to because I don’t know the future of your thoughts.)
  • Doing an individual stunt not necessarily within a movement. So this could mean jumping in front of the camera live on TV, or disrupting Parliament or something like that. Well, again, people have done that before, – often part of a movement – but still. So the only difference (assuming that the stunt basically reached everyone in the world at once) between this and our ideal society where everything seems to go right is that we don’t have people discussing things together in their local spaces. Because, sure, everyone could know that they have power, but most likely is that they either wouldn’t believe it or wouldn’t actually do anything about it.
  • Doing on-the-ground work (in communities). Ok, so where does this go wrong? So this would mean that we do projects with community, helping people, setting up spaces to talk… so you’d think, where is the raising awareness in this? So, if you’re talking to your community, you can talk to them about the fact that we (the average…) have the power to make change. You can also point out that you are making change right then, helping people, and talking and self organising in your community about stuff.

So now, I would like you to notice the things I put in bold. People discussing things together in their local spaces, and people knowing that they have power themselves. So, No. 3 arguably ticks all the boxes. Except, I admit, it doesn’t raise awareness much. So what is a good way of raising awareness we could add to this? We have created the stir fry, and No. 1 is the salt and No. 2 is the pepper. The things inside of the stir fry are you (lol) and Casa Laura (what I mean is, the stir fry is No. 3).

Concluding, we need to have on the ground work going, mixed with some movements of direct actions to raise awareness. By the way, having people from around the world and asylum seekers taking part in the community is like adding dried seaweed and flax seed and ground nut mix to the stir fry, like we like to do here in Casa Laura.

So I hope this makes it clear why it’s important to have community spaces like Casa Laura.

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