"Resisting empire and the psychological impact of the hegemony of corporate capitalism, its accompanying environmental devastation, and the despair and destruction of the majority of society is the work of liberation psychology. Potentially, a significant revolution and transition of power to the multitude could occur through a mass exodus by the multitude from societal manifestations of empire that individuals experience on a day to day basis. This exodus is possible as the route to and result of individual and community wellness.
The concept of utopian vision and exodus from systemic problems through changing personal and community behavior in place is not new. It has been put forth many times by people working with concepts of liberation across the world and over the course of time. Currently, there are many people working on this concept such as the AdBusters campaigns, or One Billion Rising, just to name two. Particularly a vision of exodus from oppression to a better future has been proposed by liberation theology as far back as the 1960s. The current situation within the United States with a government that has withdrawn us from the historic Paris climate agreement and the U.N. Human Rights Council make this an attractive and hopeful concept. Additionally, the U.S. is one of a very few countries that has not ratified the International Women’s Bill of Rights; it has been ratified by 185 nations including Saudia Arabia and Afghanistan. We as U.S. citizens of good conscience cannot necessarily leave our homes to effect change, and arguably this is not even the most effective route. If we as the citizens of the U.S. and of the world decide to leave behind the rules, standards, and practices that contribute to the oppression of individuals, communities, nations, and the planet itself, it is possible we can create movement in the problems we face as a human community. This approach, it must be stated, will not be equally possible for all people in all contexts. It specifically is a suggestion for people in countries where there are a sufficient amount of resources and opportunities to make decisions and choices about how one participates in society.
The idea of building a movement to “leave in place” by a collective grassroots refusal to participate in oppression is consistent with and builds on the Occupy movement. It is essentially an anarchist approach, somewhat like Occupy, as discussed by Chomsky. It “permits being political outside of the red-and-blue confines of what is normally considered ‘political’ in the United States” (ix). It has the beauty of not needing any leaders, or governing bodies, or committees. It would be based on participatory collective action with a bottom-up reorganizing of society on a more just basis. We can free ourselves with our own action. We do not need to beg corporations or the government for help or permission. In a sense this is the goal of liberation psychology: to create free and conscious people and societies able to act to transform the world. Liberation psychology, and the concept of “leaving in place,” of mass exodus, is an opening to a better future, as Freire says, to “a world in which it will be easier to love” (quoted in Watkins and Shulman: 27).
An exodus has already been proposed on a grass-roots level. The choice to shop locally, reduce one’s carbon foot-print, eat lower on the food chain, offer support for inclusivity and diversity, counter narratives to Islamophobia, are all choices to exit the domain of the empire in favor of a society that envisions sustainability and a future for all persons. Each of the above pieces of liberation psychology that have been discussed involve proposals for implementation in a Muslim mental health setting, but they are relevant for all mental health practitioners. Framing mental health work in relationship to Islamic concepts has concrete applications that have been mentioned above in reference to each of the major domains discussed. However, this article barely scratches the surface of the possibilities of an Islamic liberation psychology and there are many possibilities for a liberation psychology approach generally. It is the hope of this article that as the conversation on liberation psychology and Muslim mental health grows, many more concrete possibilities will unfold that far outpace the few interventions mentioned above."