Thursday, January 26, 2017


At the Women's March weekend and in several other settings involving activism, I have been hearing this word "intersectional." It seems to be a sort of buzz word of late. At first, I let it just slide past in my hearing, not really thinking about its meaning. But each time I hear it, I think a little harder about what it means, and more specifically what it means to me.

I realized after much thought that the word is so much a part of my way of being in the world, that it never occurred to me that it needed to be called something or defined. But now that I have begun thinking about it, I understand that not everybody thinks of the world this way, and while that's foreign to me, I get that other people go through life differently than I do.

So, I did what I always do--I turned to words, my friends. I think intersectionality is what John Donne meant in his poem:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 

Now, I'm no John Donne, and my poetic attempts may not be so eloquent, but after the march, I wrote this poem to try to express the word, the point of the march, the way I view the world in this respect. 

It's called: 


As in, our lives intersect so much so that whatever happens to anyone, happens to me;

As in, women's rights are human rights, are LGBT rights, are refugee rights, are immigrants' rights, are black rights, are rights;

As in, violence toward one begets more violence to all;

As in, geographical, political boundaries are myths that cannot divide us; 

As in, we either rise together or we fall together;

As in, we have all been strangers in a strange land, all in need of welcome;

As in, the water in North Dakota, and Flint, and flooding homes, and pushed by tsunamis is all the same water;

As in, we exist as only a tiny part of an enormous ecosytem, but we are soiling our own bed--even dogs know better; 

As in, art and music and literature are how we understand our connectedness; 

As in, educating your child is just as important to me as the education mine already received; 

As in, all religions teach us to love one another, a concept so fundamental that even those with no religion intuitively know this;

As in, social justice for one does not take away anything from another, but expands justice for all; 

As in, there is enough for all when greed gives way to generosity and power gives way to humility; 

As in, we are all dreamers, whether we are laid off coal workers, struggling farmers, loggers, DACA children, corporate giants, or writers; 

As in, we are all formed from the same stardust, and we will all return to it; 

As in, the whisper you start in your heart becomes the rousing roar of the earth; 

As in, if we bring forth what is within us it will save us, and if we do not bring forth what is within us, it will destroy us; 

As in, we exist in an infinite spiral around each other and we can reach out to hug, help, heal, and house the whole world; 

As in, tug on one thread and the whole piece/peace unravels.

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