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Barbara Deming

  • It is not as mirrors reflect us but, rather, as our dreams do, that movies most truly reveal the times. If the dreams we have been dreaming provide a sad picture of us, it should be remembered that — like that first book of Dante's Comedy — they show forth only one region of the psyche. Through them we can read with a peculiar accuracy the fears and confusions that assail us — we can read, in caricature, the Hell in which we are bound. But we cannot read the best hopes of the time.

  • People may find it more comfortable to listen to us if we equivocate, but in the long run only words that discomfort them are going to change our situation.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "Letter to WISP," Revolution and Equilibrium ()
  • Surely all of us are nerved by one another, catch courage from one another.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "We Are All Part of One Another," Revolution and Equilibrium ()
  • To resort to power one need not be violent, and to speak to conscience one need not be meek.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "On Revolution and Equilibrium," Revolution and Equilibrium ()
  • ... most Americans are in deep awe of things-as-they-are. Even with everything this obviously out of control, they still tell themselves that those in authority must know what they are doing, and must be describing our condition to us as it really is; they still take it for granted that somehow what is, what is done, must make sense, can't really be insane. These assumptions exercise a tyranny over their minds.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "On the Necessity to Liberate Minds," Revolution and Equilibrium ()
  • ... there is clearly a kind of anger that is healthy. It is the concentration of one's whole being in the determination: this must change.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "On Anger," We Cannot Live Without Our Lives ()
  • I think the world has been split in half for much too long — between masculine and feminine. Or rather, between what is said to be masculine and said to be feminine. 'Vive la différence!' has been a popular saying ... I would like to argue that perhaps our most crucial task at this point of history — a task for women and men — is not to celebrate these so-called differences between our natures but to question boldly, by word and act, whether they properly exist at all, or whether they do not violently distort us, whether they do not split our common humanity.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "Two Perspectives on Women's Struggle," We Cannot Live Without Our Lives ()
  • Manliness has been defined as assertion of the self. Womanliness has been defined as the nurturing of selves other than our own — even if we quite lose our own in the process. (Women are supposed to find in this loss their true fulfillment.) But every individual person is born both to assert herself or himself and to act out a sympathy for others trying to find themselves — in Christian terms, meant to love one's self as one loves others ... Jesus never taught that we should split up that commandment — assigning 'love yourself' to men, 'love others' to women. But society has tried to.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "Two Perspectives on Women's Struggle," We Cannot Live Without Our Lives ()
  • ... nonviolent actions are by their nature androgynous. In them the two impulses that have long been treated as distinct, 'masculine' and 'feminine,' the impulse of self-assertion and the impulse of sympathy, are clearly joined; the very genius of nonviolence, in fact, is that it demonstrates them to be indivisible, and so restores human community ...

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "Two Perspectives on Women&pos;s Struggle," We Cannot Live Without Our Lives ()
  • Let me be really here, here in this place and this time where I am.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "An Illness," Wash Us and Comb Us ()
  • ... she had lived not merely her own life but, without restraint, as many other lives as possible, and those of her family, of course, had most tempted her.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "Death and the Old Woman," Wash Us and Comb Us ()
  • Love is the falling rain, / Love is the following flood, / And love is the ark / With two of a kind aboard ...

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "Love Is the Falling Rain" (1959), We Are All Part of One Another ()
  • We are earth of this earth, and we are bone of its bone. / This is a prayer I sing, for we have forgotten this and so / The earth is perishing.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "Spirit of Love" (1973), We Are All Part of One Another ()
  • A liberation movement that is nonviolent sets the oppressor free as well as the oppressed.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • in Jane Meyerding, ed., We Are All Part of One Another: A Barbara Deming Reader ()

Barbara Deming, U.S. poet, writer, pacifist

(1917 - 1984)