Creating a “Culture of Caring”

It’s hopeful and liberating (both for ourselves and for those around us) when we can be openly loving, zestful, and connected, and act with integrity and courage, from a solid grounded core within. It’s when we show ourselves and show how much we care in an authentic way that people are reminded of what’s possible. It’s what everyone wants to do but dares not to. When someone dares, people are moved.

People learn about RC by being around us. We are the contradiction [to distress], we are the theory in action. Eventually they start asking questions, for example, “Can we do more of that listening thing you talked about?”

My monetary reform activist group is over ninety percent older white English-speaking USer male experts. My identity groups are none of those. I am younger, Asian, non-native English speaking, Canadian, female, and a non-expert in monetary reform.

I reached out to fourteen of the men in the group and am now in regular contact with the five who were the most knowledgeable, had some attention, were kind, and could make time for me. Most important, I liked them. As it turned out [happened], they were also the leaders in the group!

At the beginning I had no expectations or plans for building relationships with them. I did know that I needed their help to find my way through a complex maze of information and theory.

I “shamelessly” asked them for help and asked questions, and time and time again they responded. I framed my requests in terms of “You (monetary reform activists) need me to help get your message out to ordinary people. You speak in a language that people don’t understand. Let me help you.” It was clearly in their best interest to help me understand what they knew.

I’m the newest member of the group and the least experienced in monetary theory, but I have other skills and insights they desperately need. I had to be confident of that first, before they could believe it (discharge made that possible). When I needed to step up (write a report, present something at a meeting, talk to people I didn’t know, chair a meeting, organize something), I discharged on how inadequate and stupid I felt—and did it anyway! When a different perspective was required in a discussion, I dared to speak up and respectfully disagree. When there were information gaps or a skewed viewpoint, I shared ideas about listening and the need for cooperation and collaboration and provided bits of oppression theory, as appropriate. I had to transform myself to put these things out for public scrutiny.

Result: Not only are they listening, but I’m also seeing them shift. They are sharing more personally, telling jokes and laughing, caring more openly, not being so critical of or hard on each other, trusting and reaching across. They start with me and then do it with each other. I’m helping to create a “culture of caring.” It’s like my being around gives them “permission” to be this other way.

At their annual conference, I did a two-hour presentation to share RC tools. The leadership had told me I “had to do” a presentation on “that listening thing.” I called it “A Personal Journey of Courage, Integrity, and Hope.” It was the culmination of hours of dialogue, relationship building, planting seeds, and organizing.

In it I included a skit, a formal report, a sharing of stories, listening groups, and a song. I focused on building closer connections so we could collaborate more effectively. It worked, because I had taken the time to earn their trust. They had accepted me as “one of them.” I didn’t have to lecture about RC theory, because it all came out naturally in the personal stories and the report-back. I simply highlighted and added to what people said.

My message was “Let’s do it together—together with each other, together with other activist groups, together with ordinary citizens—and generate a massive national awakening in this country. We can build unity without giving up diversity.” Money touches everything, and monetary reform will allow for a more stable economy that supports people’s real needs. It is in everyone’s interest, across the political spectrum. My closing comments were, “I know you care deeply about monetary reform. Look around the room. I want you to consider caring that deeply about each other. Change isn’t going to happen if we don’t do it together.” Huge applause.

I am leading from behind. I don’t have an official title or anything, but I do have the respect and the ear of the decision makers. It’s such a contradiction to my early distresses of insignificance and powerlessness!

I’m grateful for what we have figured out in RC and for the network of brilliant minds and hearts that have stayed close to me through this journey. We can do this!

Bo-Young Lim

Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change

(Present Time 190, January 2018)

Last modified: 2019-05-21 23:45:54+00