we will not cancel us

We will not cancel us.

We hurt people.

Of course we did, we are human. We were traumatized/socialized away from interdependence. We learned to hide everything real, everything messy, weak, complex. We learned that fake shit hurts, but it’s acceptable.

Our swallowed pain made us a piece of shit, or depressed, or untrustworthy, or paranoid, or impotent, or an egomaniac. We moved with the herd, or became isolationist and contrary, perhaps even controversial. We disappointed each other, at the level of race, gender, species…in a vast way we longed for more from us.

But we will not cancel us.

Canceling is punishment, and punishment doesn’t stop the cycle of harm, not long term. Cancellation may even be counter-abolitionist…instead of prison bars we place each other in an overflowing box of untouchables – often with no trial – and strip us of past and future, of the complexity of being gifted and troubled, brilliant and broken. We will set down this punitive measure and pick each other up, leaving no traumatized person behind.

We will not cancel us. But we must earn our place on this earth.

We will tell each other we hurt people, and who. We will tell each other why, and who hurt us and how. We will tell each other what we will do to heal ourselves, and heal the wounds in our wake. We will be accountable, rigorous in our accountability, all of us unlearning, all of us crawling towards dignity. We will learn to set and hold boundaries, communicate without manipulation, give and receive consent, ask for help, love our shadows without letting them rule our relationships, and remember we are of earth, of miracle, of a whole, of a massive river – love, life, life, love.

We all have work to do. Our work is in the light. We have no perfect moral ground to stand on, shaped as we are by this toxic complex time. We may not have time, or emotional capacity, to walk each path together. We are all flailing in the unknown at the moment, terrified, stretched beyond ourselves, ashamed, realizing the future is in our hands. We must all do our work. Be accountable and go heal, simultaneously, continuously. It’s never too late.

We will not cancel us. If we give up this strategy, we will learn together the other strategies that will ultimately help us break these cycles, liberate future generations from the burden of our shared and private pain, leaving nothing unspeakable in our bones, no shame in our dirt.

Each of us is precious. We, together, must break every cycle that makes us forget this.

Author: Adrienne

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Your uprising against the forces of darkness has got to do more than say "no." A fierce, primal yes should be at the heart of your crusade. (rob brezny, long ago)

7 thoughts on “we will not cancel us”

  1. Thank you for this gift. It’s so easy to cancel those who’ve caused hurt. To cast them aside, as you say. The pain of the reconciling the brilliance and the brokenness is too much to bear…Thank you for this reminder that we cannot so carelessly throw one another away.

  2. I just found this post, and am moved to tears, as I often am by your work. I work in violence intervention and prevention, with people who cause harm and have been harmed both. I am training an alternative school in Detroit this spring on trauma informed care, and I am thinking of your work / our work to get free. I will be using some quotes from your writing (I hope that’s okay!). Thank you for always, always reminding us that there is a path back to the light. Thank you.

  3. This just touched me and made me think in a different perspective.
    Is so beautiful

  4. I’m struggling here. I often think people use the terms of “accountability” and “cancel culture” interchangeably, but they are not interchangeable. People need to be held responsible for mistakes that harm others, and in the past we have all to easily looked beyond the harm to keep our illusions intact. There have been many individuals, companies, etc. who have paid a price for their past transgressions, and sometimes the punishment far exceeds the crime, and some times it sheds light on the cockroaches that take advantage of others, and sometimes it holds people accountable or serves as a form of justice.

    I guess what makes the difference in whether I’m willing to forgive and walk with that other individual is their ability to not only see and understand how they caused harm, but in their willingness to learn another way and repair the damage done to others. I am a child of the 70’s and 80’s, and during those years we used homophobic terms often. For most of us, it was not out of hatred of lgtbq community members (that term didn’t exist then), but out of ignorance. My use of those terrible terms was brought to my attention by a friend of mine (who I did not know was gay) when he explained how hurtful it was to him to hear me use the terms I did around him, and it made him feel like if I knew he was gay, I would do stop being his friend. When he told me, I cried I was so mortified I had hurt him like that. Ignorance does not excuse how I talked, but he took a chance and had the grace to point out those blind areas I didn’t know I had, and I am forever grateful to him for that. He held me accountable, and was willing to walk with me while I learned a new way. Many people are like this; not wanting to be hurtful, and willing to learn to be better when they realize they are causing harm.

    However, there is evil in this world, and evil does not want to be accountable, ever. Evil flourishes where people remain silent or fail to act against harms caused to themselves or others. There are extremely selfish people who do not, and cannot, care about other human beings, and who have zero compunction about harming others, or taking from others, or taking advantage. Those are the people who are trying to avoid accountability by labeling it as cancel culture. Those are the folks that need to have wealth, and power, and platforms stripped from them, if they cannot learn how to peacefully coexist, especially if those trappings were gained at the cost and detriment of others.

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