One and All
by Debra Lynn Dadd
"One for all and all for one!" -- motto of The Three Musketeers
There is, within each one of us, a longing to connect, somehow knowing we belong with a larger whole. Yet, to become one with another or others, do we need to give up our individuality? Or can we be an individual "one" and experience the oneness of "all" too?
Looking up the word "oneness" in a dictionary, I find a variety of definitions.
It is about being a single unit.
It is about being complete, whole, intact, undivided, having all it's proper component parts with none missing.
It is about union, unity, integration-the bringing together of parts into a unified whole, incorporating smaller units into larger units, with all agreeing to work harmoniously together "as one" to accomplish a single purpose or goal.
Yet, in our culture, oneness is often thought of as taking unique individual parts and making them uniform so that every part is the same. Giving up the uniqueness of the parts for the identity of the whole.
This doesn't work.
I first discovered the impracticality of "homogenized oneness" when I got married. In our culture we have this very romantic ideal that when you fall in love and marry, "two become one."
Well, how do you do that? How do two become one? What happened with my husband and I was that we gave up our individual identities and preferences and goals to our "oneness" as a couple. And after ten years of marriage, we divorced. We were so busy being Mr. and Mrs., we
weren't taking care of ourselves.
But then after a couple of years of re-establishing our own lives as individuals, we realized that we did love each other and wanted to be life partners, so we approached being married differently. This time we agreed to be a team, where we each maintained our own
individual lives, and also created a third entity that is "us." To us, we each bring ourselves to give to each other. We each take responsibility for ourselves as individuals and the "oneness" of our marriage. And this works beautifully! We've been very happy and get
closer every day.
This was a revelation for me. But it's also traditional. I was born in the mid 1950's, so I remember when husbands and wives divided domestic labor and when, in the 1960s, suddenly men and women were "equal" and both were supposed to bring in income and take care of the
home. In our house, we went back to division of labor. We both work and produce income, but at home, we split the responsibility for domestic tasks. I do all the cooking and interior decorating, for example, while my husband takes
out all the garbage and is responsible for the cars. While there are many decisions we make together, we also allow each other to make decisions individually for us as a couple-we know each other so well, that we know what the other would want in most situations.
This oneness works because we are two unique individual parts, united in our agreement to work harmoniously together around the common purpose of having a household and a life together. Each "one" of us contributes to the "all" of us and, as well, the "all" of us together
watches out and takes care of each "one" of us.
There are many examples of this oneness working. A human body, for example, is composed of many organs and systems, each one doing their own job. The heart pumps blood, the lungs bring oxygen into the body, the stomach digests food. Each individual organ is distinct and
different, yet all work together, each doing their part, to make a human body function as a whole. All the parts are needed. When one is missing or not functioning, the whole system breaks down. The human body couldn't function if all the organs were exactly the same! And
as the "all" of the body survives, so do each "one" of the individual organs.
Likewise, our planet is filled with a wide diversity of creatures and plants and systems and elements, each making their unique contribution to our one whole planet. For each "one" of us to survive, we need the "all" of the whole planet, and for the "all" of the planet to
survive, each "one" of us needs to do our part to sustain it.
So, to me, oneness isn't about every part being the same or performing the same function, but rather, oneness is the coming together of various different parts, with agreement to act cooperatively and harmoniously together to accomplish a common purpose. The beauty of it is
that each "one" supports the existence of the "all" and the "all" in turn supports each "one." It's a flowing give-and-take where both the one and the all win.
An ideal example of this, to me, is a symphony orchestra. It is composed of many players, each playing various instruments, each playing various melodies and rhythms, but they all fit together to create a single, coordinated result of glorious music.
Whether we are aware of it or not, each one of us are parts in many wholes, to which we contribute and from which we receive. As individuals, we give and take with whole marriages, whole families, whole friendships, whole groups, whole communities, whole nations, a whole
species, whole ecosystems, our whole planet and the whole of spirit. Each of these are onenesses made up of many individuals with whom we interact.
When we become aware of where and how we are one with others, we can choose how we give and how we take, and choose our intentions and actions for the benefit of all, including ourselves. After all, we are a very important part of every oneness we belong to.
Participating in oneness with awareness opens possibilities and allows us to act within a larger sphere. We can enjoy the resources, wisdom, friendship, protection, and comfort of the larger whole.
We can each intentionally be united in oneness wherever we choose by agreeing to a common purpose and uniting our intentions and actions with it. Join in. It's as simple as that. Oneness is wonderful.
© Copyright 2009 Debra Lynn Dadd.
All Rights Reserved.
Debra Lynn Dadd has
been a leading consumer advocate in the field of health and
the environment since the early 1980s. She was the first to
comprehensively write about toxic chemicals in common
household products in language meant for consumers, which
created a demand for the many nontoxic products we find on
the market today.
Beginning with her first
self-published book in 1980, Debra's various books have been
continuously in print for twenty-five years. Her book Home
Safe Home is the definitive guide to toxic exposures in the
home and safe solutions. She also publishes Debra's List--a
free online directory of 100s of links to 1000s of products
with health and environmental benefits--and three free
online newsletters: Health, Home, and Habitat, a weekly
recipe using natural sweeteners, and Words of Wisdom--a
daily quotation on nature or spirit. She has been a regular
contributor to Natural Home & Garden magazine since it's
Hailed "The Queen of
Green" by the New York Times, Debra has appeared on
many radio and television shows including Geraldo and the
Today show. She was featured on the cover of East West
Journal (now Natural Health magazine) and Yoga Journal.