I have been writing as a way to process my grief and sadness and dreams and desires as I begin to heal my time in a community that was so interpersonally violent in its survival. A huge part of this healing has been the work of adrienne maree brown, especially her book Emergent Strategy. Her writing spoke to so much that I have been dreaming of and begging for from community and activism and our futures. Below are my words, greatly informed by her work, as she helped my find words for things I knew in my body and soul.
What does it mean to flourish in a deeply oppressive and unequal society? We are taught the system’s logics of zero sum: logics that teach us we can not have without taking, that we must compete in order to survive. Yes, there are incredibly harmful ways of flourishing AND what harm do we do when we define flourishing as somehow counter our struggles for justice and liberation?
We can shift away from scarcity, from competition and insecurity. In the simplest forms we can examine how respond to others in out community succeeding, having something good happen, expressing joy and happiness. How often do we respond with criticism, cutting them down? That is capitalism bubbling up in our bodies, setting us up in competition, defining their flourishing as a threat to us. Other practices are possible. How do we learn to respond with gratitude for their power, with excitement for what possibilities open up when people have their needs and wants met and dare I say celebrated?
This doesn’t mean anything goes. This doesn’t mean that we ignore times when harm may come from flourishing. This doesn’t mean we stop working to change systems of oppression. This doesn’t mean that we abandon the need for justice and liberation. This is not the only work to be done. And it does mean shifting our logics away from competition, scarcity and capitalism towards harm reduction sweetly nestled in potential building. And it does mean claiming our agency and our right to expand beyond survival if even in the smallest moment. In doing so I believe we are tending the soil in ways that will help justice and liberation grow.
This may not be our work all the time. And to dismiss it as unimportant, or even counter our struggle is a grave mistake. How will we create a just world if we don’t practice justice in our day-to-day life? How will we know freedom if we don’t live it every chance we get?
This system is fucked and there is so much magic and possibility in our hearts, our shadows, our powers and our ability to envision and live the futures we need and want.