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Being an Ally

—Harvey Jackins

For any group to progress in its liberation from oppression it is necessary that it (1) formulate a correct, workable, program of liberation, (2) unite its members around that program, and (3) win allies for the group’s liberation among individuals and organizations who are outside the group itself.

Acquiring allies is usually the last and the least understood part of a liberation struggle. RC discussions of liberation theory in the past have often tried to emphasize this winning of allies. At other times we have stressed the exchange of mutual support between two or more liberation groups who agree to support each other’s programs.

These are not the only viewpoints from which alliances can arise. As the notion of “one for all and all for one” continues to slowly permeate our attitudes, we have tended to put forward certain initiatives to be taken by ourselves as allies to other groups. Such initiatives represent an important break with the “what’s in it for me?” posture toward which the oppressive society has influenced us. To organize those of us who are outside a particular group to take initiative and become supportive allies for members of that group can be very effective. It is a sharp contradiction to the general selfishness and isolation which has been modeled for us and imposed upon us in the past by the oppressive societies.

I propose we all try to think about and plan to become role models of “effective allies for others.” I propose that we not only model this but that we encourage other people to join us in playing this role as a practical route toward becoming “one for all and all for one.” I propose that we plan to recruit others and expand the numbers of people doing this until, at some time in the future, there will be no human being of any age or any other characteristic that does not have other humans of different characteristics close at hand ready to take initiative towards supporting her or him in her or his survival and goals.

To do this, we will need to think about our “constituencies” (the people to whom we shall become allies) in some organized way.

Who are the people for whom I shall begin to organize myself to be an ally?

Myself: I propose that I (and you do this too for yourself) remind myself of my own innate, elegant goodness, brilliance, courage, freedom, and power. I deserve my own full support. In my battle against the patterns which will persistently (until they have all been discharged) tend to distort my view of myself, tend to mask and suppress my confidence, my freedom of initiative, and my power, I propose that I be my own excellent ally. I can do this by reminding myself repetitively of my real nature (particularly in the areas which are still most deeply tending to be invalidated by patterns). I can remind myself of my excellence, my competence, and my power. I can remind myself that reality is always supporting the upward-trend forces in my life, in spite of the incessant propaganda from the oppressive society and in spite of the dead, static persistence of my patterns. I will be a dependable ally to myself under all conditions.

All young people of all ages: For the world’s population as a whole to eventually act rationally toward each other and toward our lovely planet, we must find a way to halt the cascade of mistreatment and false information which is flooded upon young people in their early years by the society and by the patterns of the adult population. For an adult to share an accurate picture of reality with a young person and explain the source of the patterned unreality which dominates the appearances of people and society, may enable the young person to hold out against the pseudo-reality of the patterned world. Reassurance (and counseling) can make a huge difference for members of this group.

All women: The female majority of the world’s population has been systematically treated with unfairness, lack of respect, abuse, and exploitation at every stage of their lives. Women as well as men, but men in particular, can interrupt this mistreatment with a firm stand against the oppression and firm reminders to women of their excellence. Women can effectively be reminded of their full status as the most complex entities produced by the universe and of women’s key roles in carrying this magnificent complexity forward into the future. Women must be allies of women. Young people must be allies of women. Men, in particular, must take on the role of being allies of women. Since men in the past have been systematically trained and conditioned by the society to play the roles of oppressors to women, they are in an excellent position to be very effective in interrupting and ending the exploitation and mistreatment, and in contradicting and assisting in the discharge of the women’s patterns that have resulted from it.

Men: Male humans are fully qualified humans, human in every respect. They are equally intelligent with women. They have given enormous effort over the span of human existence to mastering the environments surrounding humans to produce safety, survival, and nurturance for all people. The mistakes that men have made, and sometimes persisted in, have been caused by the irrational societies and the patterns perpetuated by them. These mistakes are not the results of men’s real male natures. Men are inherently brave, honest, intelligent, and responsible. Men have almost always been treated with isolation and invalidation. If men are reached for and supported by allies (other men as well as women and young people) it will make an enormous difference in men’s lives. It will free them to be more effective allies for all other people.

Parents: Parents are deeply oppressed by the society as parents. The most important single job in the entire society is the production of new humans. This is true rationally, as human beings are far and away the most complex, valuable, and significant entities connected with the general phenomenon of life and the activities taking place around us. Even from the irrational viewpoint of the oppressive society, new humans are the source of new value, of wealth, of opportunities for profit. Any multi-national corporation would spend a hundred billion dollars to produce anything as complex and able as a human being if there were no easier way to produce one. Yet this critical work of bearing and parenting children is completely unpaid and accompanied by fatigue and desperation.

Parents are also a principle avenue for the transmission of distress to the next generation, and their efforts to avoid this and resist this role are frustrated by the oppression. Every parent deserves, and will receive in a rational society of the future, unswerving, supportive assistance from non-parents (which will be greatly to the advantage of the non-parents themselves). It will be of great assistance to the children who will tend to receive attention and companionship in the quantities they need. (“Every individual child needs at least five full-time parents.”) Such real support and alliance accompanied by the organization of parent support groups and classes, parents workshops and leadership will make the life of a parent much more the joy that they have glimpsed occa­­sionally and enable them to break the chain of restimulation and contagion that has passed on the patterns of the previous generations so devastatingly to date.

“Minorities in the population”: Any group of people who have any physical characteristic distinguishable from the corresponding characteristic of the people around them (size, skin color, posture, facial expression, disability), has been targeted for oppression and exploitation on the basis of that difference by all class societies up to the present. Viewed rationally, any such differences are part of the individual uniqueness of all humans and are a source of richness and enjoyment for all people in the society. All such “minorities” have a stake in being allies for each other. All speakers of any languages different than the majority language of a given population and all people of any skin colors that differ from the skin color of the majority population will receive great benefit from supporting each other. It is also true that the people of the majority language and the majority skin color have equally much to gain by assuming the role of ally to, and leader in ending discrimination and mistreatment of, any minority. To do so opens up the lives of the majority group to a richness of culture that they would otherwise be denied. It creates an atmosphere of safety and harmony for the people of the majority and for all others as well.

People “different” because of language, religion, or culture: People with such differences may not always be a minority group. They may sometimes be a majority of the population, but when a different “official” language, culture, or religion has been designated, they are then often oppressed for failure to conform. To be an ally to people of such a group one can take an interest in the culture, language, or religion. One can inform the rest of the population about the culture and religion. One can learn the language, speak it, and treat it with respect. One can organize mutual celebration of cultural events by people of both cultures and insist that the laws and customs of the political or community organizations do not discriminate between one and another.

“People who are acting out past hurts in ways that set them apart from the rest of the population”: Much of such distressed behavior is often proclaimed as “rational” or “free choice” by its victims and carriers, since its source in distress patterns is not universally understood or agreed to in the society as yet. Compulsive sexual practices can be considered as part of this category.  Even such a pattern as “compulsive serial murderer,” however, which is generally agreed to be irrational and dangerous, is best handled by alliances rather than by criticism or punishment. The kind and amount of effective counseling which is necessary to free such a person from the compulsive patterns of behavior is not likely to be understood without the knowledge of RC. It is not likely to be available with the necessary skill and resource even if knowledge of RC exists. A person with such a pattern may necessarily have to be segregated for the protection of others until the resources can be brought to bear for the complete discharge of the pattern. Yet a real solution for this dilemma requires that someone (all the rest of us) think in terms of being an ally to the person who is thus being separated by the results of hurt from the rest of humankind.

What actions can we take in the direction of being a good ally to everybody? What do you think of the following?

1. Listen to the person tell about what it is like for her or him to be herself or himself, to be a young person, a woman, a man. Listen to what it’s like to be a member of a minority. Listen to what it’s like to live with the particular distress.

2. Specifically offer oneself as an ally to the person, making as deep a commitment as one can honestly do at that point.

3. Counsel, and commit oneself to counsel, on one’s thoughts and feelings about being an ally in order to become more rational and more effective in that role.

4. Promise and carry through some organization of other people as groups of allies who will offer support, who will take action to change the situation, who will act to reduce the isolation, who will interrupt the patterns of oppression.

(I would not propose that allies “wait” for the oppressed group to tell them what to do to be helpful. In fact, I would not propose that allies allow the oppressed group to exercise any veto on the allies’ planning and action. The internalized oppression of the oppressed group may lead to too timid or too limited activity in such a case. The allies need to take initiatives simply from the correctness of the position they have reached from their own thinking, not waiting for their actions to be requested nor their thinking approved of by the oppressed group.)

5. Respond aggressively to every instance of oppression. Speak out and invite other people to join the alliance. Carry on education for your policies as “allies” among the general public.

Reclaiming our full power certainly will imply independent initiative on our parts wherever situations need change. We can not only “be on everyone’s side,” we can be self-starting activist allies on everyone’s side.


Last modified: 2024-05-21 18:18:55+00