100%

this came to me this morning in one fell swoop.

i am hesitant to share it, but it feels important as i think of many of us now going to our families, the space where all lines blur and there is just blood, lineage and hopefully love.

my family seems have a little of everything in it, every belief system, every right and wrong. for a long time i thought of various members of my family as those who were…against me.

i am grateful i have begun to see us whole, holding the breadth of humanity’s best and worst potential. i can love across the chasm. and the healing here is the healing needed at the largest scale.

so here goes:

we have been thinking of our revolutions as us vs them, winning power in a way that means others lose. always leaving a percentage, as small as possible, but there…the 1% whom we can blame for the mess we are in.

what would it look like to posit ourselves instead as wholeness, evolving from a society driven by division?…if our practice was to decompartmentalize ourselves, to integrate our parts, our communities, our movements, our world?

what we call the 1% is a set of ideas ravaging our world. individualism, selfishness, darwinism. these ideas continue to consume us and all our resources, though only the tiniest sliver truly benefit, because we all participate.

we actively participate: we fund war with much of our taxes, we call the police, we continuously hand over our power, we vote without holding elected officials accountable, we create an earth’s worth of garbage in our short lifetimes.

we passively participate: not intervening against hate, looking the other way from violence and conflict, silent with fear, stepping quietly away from truth tellers, collecting paychecks for work we do not love which does not benefit our communities.

i am not speaking just of ‘the masses’ here – within movement spaces we cultivate competition by continuing to participate in the foundation games, watching activist stars emerge full of words while nothing changes, while hunger and homelessness grow, tearing each other apart in a fit of righteousness.

it is painful to write this.

but it is true.

james baldwin told us, “not everything that is faced can be changed. but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

so busy looking outside ourselves for the evil, for the problem…when we are the problem. everyday we build up our dreams and with a million small cuts we destroy them.

we must become the solution. whole people…not perfect, but whole. whole communities. whole systems.

anyone we leave out of “us” will become a poison to us eventually. the human organism is the same at its smallest and largest scale. just as the parts of ourselves we don’t claim creep into our lives, keeping us from fully realizing our personal potential (the jealous side, the self-doubter, the depressed, the over eater…those are just some of my unclaimed parts, and they wreak havoc), at a societal level: those we leave out of our vision, we give no option but to fight us.

if we give them no future with us, what else can they do?

this is how we have become slaves over and over and over again, shackles or credit cards, given no real choice, no humanity.

look what it has made us.

as tempting as it is to hurt those who have taken so much from us, who have hurt us deeply – we cannot recreate that, we cannot continue in this back and forth of oppression and victimization and self-loathing and division.

because it is ourselves we hurt.

the 1% is our responsibility. our conservative family members, our passive family members, our secret selves. it’s our responsibility.

this is beyond the symbolism of flowers in guns – it strikes at the root of how we are living.

can we see all people as victims of our worst collective thinking with this current global economy, even those who appear to benefit (until you look at rates of suicide, addiction, and other signs of societal illness)?

if we are movement leaders who want the ultimate victory, we must claim the 100%, the whole ecosystem from heart to universe.

it seems daunting only if we remain parts of ourselves. if we see ourselves whole, then suddenly there is time and there is space…to heal, to move beyond judgment, to be just, to be visionary.

i say this in the context of egypt, in the context of the 99% movement – as we watch the cycles of revolution move from stunning inspiration to shocking terror, it is hard not to be overwhelmed by fear, to feel like we must urgently do things we know are not enough.

it is love, the emotion of wholeness, which we must cultivate. love is that interconnectedness, that tenderness, that compassion and forgiveness and laughter – and it is the only thing i have experienced which is greater than fear.

for what small part can ever conquer the whole? we must embody our fullness.

let us shirk off the limiting skin of a victimized 99%. i claim the whole, my own wholeness, my responsibility for what is, and what will be.

i claim it with myself, that i will forgive my shortcomings and indulge in caring for myself and taking the time for the healing i need…and that i will live each day in closer alignment with my values, however impossible it seems in this society.

i claim it with my loved ones, that i will love them with fierce and unrelenting honesty, non-judgment and compassion. i will give my family the attention that i have given my politics.

and i claim it with those who would be my enemy. i know you are hurting. i am grateful you live, when i live, so we can learn about love together.

only whole can we get free.

liberate the 100%!

12 Responses to “100%”


  1. 1 Sarah Pullman

    You are amazing, Adrienne Maree, and I LOVE THIS. You find words for my deepest heart here on this little corner of the internet and I am so grateful that you take the time to write.

    “Anyone we leave out of “us” will become a poison to us eventually.” This whole paragraph – YES. Thank you for so succinctly connecting the personal and the political, the inner and the outer work. This needs to be done.

    Happy Thanksgiving. <3

  2. 2 Erick Boustead

    Thank you! This is excellent. Is it not inherently set up to crumble when we have explicit values of inclusiveness, equality, solidarity, unity, compassion, etc etc but a wedge for a frame? I do think bringing the stark division of wealth and access and resources to light has provided space for this massive shift and widespread psychic breaks among the populus, but I love the question posed to imagine moving forward with wholeness and as Pancho stated, it’s time to “facilitate the healing of the 100%”. Take care.

  3. 3 RD

    Very true… thanks for the reminder.

  4. 4 David Hazen

    Marvelous wording, Adrienne. It’s like looking into your heart. Love always wins. I stand in solidarity with you.

  5. 5 Tiffany

    Amen.

  6. 6 Elizabeth Rothschild

    YES. yes. yes.

    (I’m in the middle of reading Jung on the shadow and collective…Carter Heyward on right-relation and living in mutuality…and a whole bunch of liberation theologians…and this piece of yours….so beautifully on point and well said… YES. yes. yes. Thank you for this.)

  7. 7 Tiffany

    Still thinking about this post…and then today I started reading Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker J. Palmer – a profound book that echoes the core of what you are saying here. Thank you for sharing this, it really helped me make sense of some things…

  8. 8 ian

    beautiful… you got it. allow me to share my new short film which i feel fits nicely into your poetic piece “The Revolution Is Love” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRtc-k6dhgs

  9. 9 brennan taylor

    Adrienne, I’m so glad you had the courage and wisdom to write this. It really resonates with me.

    While reading I thought about a quote that’s become one of my mantras as I’ve worked to cultivate more wholeness in my own life:
    “You are imperfect, and wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging”

    Its from a TED talk by Dr. Brene Brown on vulnerability and the roots of shame: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

  10. 10 Leigh Seeleman

    Thank you for your beautiful wording and sentiment that for the world to change we need to come together and co-create. I too think that we need to move beyond the victim-oppressor roles and recognize each of our parts in the co-creation, and then together create a society that honors the earth and eachother, where there is enough for all.

    I also think that the whole is made up of parts, and that in wholeness and interconnection there is also room for separation. I experience love in the moments of separation–when I, a unique soul who is different from and separate from you, need to reach outside of myself toward you–here I am vulnerable, here you can look away or say no, or you can move toward me, or you can reach out and meet me in the ways that are true to you. So I think that in the conversation of the parts of the whole, it does make some sense for the 99% to say: hey, government! hey 1%! we’re reaching out toward you to start a conversation about what’s happening, what’s not working, what we can all do differently. I think that conversation has potential to lead to policy change.

    And, I think it’s important for me, as an individual, and my community, and all of us who are working for and thinking about change, to say “What is my part in this? What can I/we co-create that will be better”? My feeling in this is that there is a big potential for a local economics movement that will put power back in the hands of communities, re-create our relationship with the Earth, and build self-reliant communities engaged in regional trade. I feel that a global localism movement could radically change our economic system to something that is more just, more sane, and more humane for EVERYONE.

  11. 11 Honeycomb

    WOW! Beautifully written. I love your insight and perspective. Thank you for this write.

  12. 12 Premadasi Amada

    Thank you for writing so fiercely, a fierce love. I agree in many ways. But I don’t agree as well. I’ve been wanting to share this video and these words with you for a long time. My intention in sharing the video is to clearly show the political roots of the ideas you’ve shared. As the speaker states, it’s up to everyone what they want to choose of course but it should be clear what is being chosen.

    For me, and this is not in the video, the way I’ve bridged the divide between what you’ve expressed here and those who express the opposite on the continuum, is that what you’ve expressed is true and important for interpersonal relationships, in our daily lives. However, when applied to how our political work should be done, it is often dangerous and not effective. The equivalent of loving an abuser and not leaving the relationship.

    In addition, I have no problem seeing the humanity of those we call the 1%. I especially have no problem understanding why they do what they do, because I see it, I see them, every day in myself. It is possible to see, understand, and completely see as human a person called enemy. While at the same time understanding that the enemy must be placed separate and stopped by any means necessary. In other words, there’s an implication in your writing that those who call the enemy the enemy can’t love the enemy, can’t see the wholeness, oneness, their pain, their journey etc. This is certainly true of some who call out the enemy. But it’s not true of all of us.

    This isn’t just lip service. I have spent years seeing the enemy inside myself, working on loving, accepting, and changing what I find there. And knowing that the only way to change, the only chance, was by first seeing, accepting, and loving. I am still on that journey.

    But here’s the thing, one, much of the 1%, are psychopaths and can’t be reached. Power is concentrated in their hands. This is important.

    And two, as all can see from the reports coming out every day, we have very, very little time left to not destroy all life on the planet.

    Love has accomplished much. So has nonviolence. What they’ve never accomplished is the systematic redistribution of wealth for a country or people. They’ve never even tried. It’s only accomplished the end of occupation, granting some rights etc. It is not an accident that no nonviolence movement has tried or succeeded at an overall systematic redistribution of wealth. By this I don’t mean occupy. Occupy is great, but they’re at most seeking slightly better distribution of some wealth. I am talking about taking all the wealth, land, food, and redistributing it for all. I am talking about a system not based on profit, but on need. Love and nonviolence has never accomplished this, nor even tried.

    Capitalism is literally eating the planet alive, 200 species a day, indigenous cultures, women, children everything. Love and nonviolence, seeing the truth of the enemies’ wholeness will never stop the literal machine of death in time.

    As in all previous struggles before, a combination of violence and nonviolence is the only chance of success.

    And I admit that the use of violence will mean that “success” will be limited.

    It won’t mean a change in hearts and minds, it won’t mean a transformation of people and social relations, etc. Violence will corrupt all of that.

    But what it will mean is that there will be a planet and life to go forward. What all of our society, culture has forgotten is that without a living landbase and our fellow species there is nothing. It doesn’t matter what ideas we hold dear, without a living landbase, nothing will exist.

    If the idea some who advocate as you do have is that it’s worth risking everything in order to make change happen through love and nonviolence, then please know that already indigenous cultures are being wiped out, languages disappearing. In other words, every strategy that requires waiting, that takes more time so that love and nonviolence can work, is inevitably complicit with allowing those who are suffering and dying today to do disappear while nonviolence tries to work.

    The use of violence is a problem in many ways. It leads to more violence and the continuation of social relations we don’t want.

    But it is an absolutely proven method to stop those with power, money and weapons. It may be limited, but the way it works, it really works.

    So let me be clear, if the oil production facilities, coal mines, massive fishing boats, nuclear sites etc are not literally destroyed or stopped – almost all of them in the next 20 years or so – then we have no chance. That this much needs to be stopped and in this time frame is not my idea. It’s the scientists who say this. That we need to use sabotage and some violence is what I am adding.

    To stop all these machines for good is to end capitalism.

    Sabotage of these machines is doable and will work. This global industrial network of death and profit has key nodal points. It is so very vulnerable. There are chokepoints. And with persistence and the coming crisis they will not be able to rebuild everything over and over. Oil is running out. There are real possibilities here. It wouldn’t take thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions as a nonviolence movement will need to ever have a chance. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta stopped 1/3 of the production of oil by using sabotage and power boats for surprise attacks. That’s more than the environmental movement has ever achieved in more than 60 years. Violence works. Please say you disagree with it if you do. But please don’t say it doesn’t work in its limited way.

    There is no evidence of the 1% changing, as there has never been in the past either. Slavery was not ended through activism. It required a war. As did WWII. As we go further on the path of ecocide those in power are doing what we’ve predicted – continuing to accelerate the process of destruction. This pattern has never been broken in the past and never will be without the use of force. After all the demonstrations, conferences, bike riding, sit ins, lock downs, puppets, poetry, love, and good intentions, greenhouse gas emissions have never decreased to date. In fact, the rate of growth has only increased. Increased. The only thing that stopped emissions even a tiny bit was the recession. Stopping capitalism completely in the next 20 years or so is our only chance.

    We’ve never faced a historical moment like this. The time we have left is measured in 10 or 20 years at most. To hold back and not use every tool we have now is to risk too much.

    A reminder, that my point in sharing this is that those who advocate as I do, can do so, even though they see and have lived experience of the wholeness of all things.

    There are stories of the Buddha killing murderers, willfully subjecting himself to bad karma, in order to spare the murderers the bad karma and to prevent harm.

    You are right that all of us, even the 1% suffer. For some of them, the best gift we can give them is to end their suffering and the unimaginable suffering they cause thru the only way they have left us to do it, through sabotaging their machines of death and sometimes by ending their lives.

    There is love there. As Che said, “the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.” Please don’t take away the wholeness of revolutionaries.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on any of this. I hope you will receive it with the care I have tried to offer it with.

    Thank you for your work.

    premadasi

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