“We Need All of Us” by Isabel Faith Abbott

[picture of a woman being lifted away by a flying pencil while claws attempt to clasp at her feet]

Drawing by Al Margen

There are days that I want to do something for this world so much that it hurts.

Problem is, lately there are days that I have no idea how I’m supposed to do that, exactly. There’s this feeling deep in my soul that there’s something uniquely me that needs to be given to the world.

This feeling is remarkably paralyzing. I look around me, and can’t find an example that matches. Why would I? No one else is me. But how to know what next step is the right one?

And so I sat staring at my computer today feeling particularly, painfully uninspired, and this poem crossed my path. And it all became clear. Because life is like that, if you sit still enough. Let’s take a moment to listen:

“we need all of us.
not everyone can do everything or do everything all the time.
and there are many ways to love and resist, rebel and rise.
we need the humans who march in the streets and bang down the doors.
we need humans who investigate and report with integrity.
we need humans who tend to the sick and dying.
we need humans who drive the safe cars and hold strong the spaces of sanctuary.
we need humans who feed and fuel the uprising.
we need humans who call all day every day, and those who lay their body on the ground and say no more.
we need humans who hear the confessions and bandage the wounded and use their voice and power to take a stand.
we need humans who are the midwives to the ideas and the maps of unmaking and the babies who will all grow up to become the humans who live here long after we are gone.
we need each other.
we need organizers and activists.
we need the scientists and the educators.
we need the parents doing differently and radicals who have always known and show us the way.
we need the healers and the agitators, the ones who make the coffee and the ones who write the checks, the ones who open their doors and the ones who tear down the walls.
we need the artists who show us what we knew before we knew and say what is unspeakable.
we need the lawyers and the writers and the religious and the secularists and the elders and the young.
we need the ones who will sing about the dark times and keep singing and singing and singing.
we need those who grow things and those who dismantle things and those who say no more.
we need those at the protests and those at pulpits and those in the dark rooms where the subversive shatters our assumptions.
we need the lovers. as in, actual lovers who touch us in all the places and bring us back into these bodies where we remember again what it is to be human and alive and in those moments not so alone.
we need the fighters, who stay angry and breathe fire and know there is the here and now and there is the long game and we must fight in and with and for both.
we will be asked to give everything. which does not mean we can do everything.
we need each other.
so in the giving everything,
love each other
which is also to love yourself with everything you have.”

– Isabel Faith Abbott 

You guys. Are you struggling with your activism? With your art? You know what? You don’t need to do it all. You don’t even need to do what anyone else is doing. You only need to do one thing well. You need to do YOU.

We’re all working together in this.  Yes. The artists, and the lovers, and the fire-breathers. We just need YOU to show up. Just as you are.

Love yourself. Just as you are. Start there.

So, what’s the next right step?

Whatever you are most called to do. Find yourself in this list, or add a few lines. Don’t work yourself into a frenzy trying to do activism how someone else is doing it. Don’t feel that you’re failing. Pick up the tools that are yours, that you know how to use best, and add them to the struggle. There will be a space to use them.

Love yourself. Trust that your soul will know the way. It always has.


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