Bringing Our Strengths as RCers to the Movement to Stop Climate Change

One of the things Harvey Jackins said that has always been important to me is that RC gives everyone the chance to have a meaningful life. All of us can use our tools to make profound changes in the lives of many individuals and, if we stretch, in our society. And now the advent of global climate change gives us an even bigger chance to make a significant impact.

Whatever humans do to address climate change in the next ten years will have ripple effects for thousands of years. We’re in a little window of time when deeply and quickly reducing greenhouse gas emissions can stop the Earth from warming to very dangerous levels. If you were hoping to live in a time that offered you the chance to have an impact that would ripple widely and last for many generations, you win! This is that time.

Climate change is already negatively impacting millions of people worldwide, especially people in the Global South. But it’s not too late to limit the effects; our future is not determined. Scientists who study the situation say we still have time to avoid the worst consequences of human-caused global warming. Our actions matter. The future will be determined by us, by our actions in this decade.

The vast intelligence of human beings is always a reason for hope. People more than ever understand the importance of uniting to stop climate change and have the means to do so. And the RC Community has the benefit of sixty years of experience, an excellent goal to focus our work, and tens of thousands of Co-Counselors worldwide who have a good understanding of our theory and practice.

Too bad we’re already so busy! Our plates are already full! We are already handling so many issues, all at the same time. It’s not like we can stop addressing racism and other oppressions and address climate change instead, or stop caring for our families or making a living. We have to handle all these things. And we can’t just ignore climate change because our plates are already full. (Sorry.)

So what do we do?

To replace capitalism with an intentional, rational system that sustains all life; to end all oppression; and to stop climate change (while we have fun, love each other, get rest, and re-emerge) we need to be part of building a global movement that represents all people and tackles climate change along with everything else. We get to figure out how to do that, and how to make it part of our daily lives.

Fortunately millions of people who are not RCers are out there right now doing great and important work to stop climate change. But they don’t have the benefit of decades of discharge on early distresses and oppression and the good thinking that has resulted. They don’t have the understandings we have gained from challenging ourselves and discharging our way to doing hard things, including working to end oppression and uniting in our efforts. There are things we can do that most people can’t because they haven’t had the benefit of intentional discharge. But they can do many other important things that we don’t have to do.

What if what we know in RC is vital to resolving the climate crisis? If we have doubts about that, why don’t we consider them early material [distress] and act like what we know is vital? From all the important changes we’ve been able to make so far with what we’ve learned in RC, we know that the knowledge we have is important.

I propose we assume that our thinking and our leadership in the movement to stop climate change are vital, and act that way (even though we don’t know everything and are sure to make many mistakes).

We don’t have to do everything. We can focus our efforts on the things we are best qualified for—for which we have the specialized experience from our years in RC. We can engage fully in this work and use our understandings about oppression and liberation, discharging distress recordings, organizing thoughtfully, interrupting oppression, building unity, making strong relationships, handling attacks, and holding perspective against distress recordings. And we can become ever more connected as a global community of people facing a common threat.


Here are some of the “specialized” things we can do, using our strengths as RCers, that could make an important difference in all of our futures:

1. We can make rational decisions and act on them.

We can all make the RC Community goal on care of the environment our personal goal and climate change our issue, whether or not we can feel like we want to, have time, or can do it. (We know how to decide, and act on decision, no matter what we are feeling.) We can discharge the fears that are restimulated when we try to look at climate change. We can learn more about the subject. We can read the RC draft policy on care of the environment <> and the many resources on climate change on the RC website (regularly updated!), at <>. We can inform ourselves enough to talk with anyone, inside or outside of RC, about the issues. We can lead on climate change, inside and outside of RC. We can try something every week, then every day. And we can have sessions about all this and so keep re-emerging as we move the work forward.

We don’t all have to join the environmental movement (though many of us have). We can start where we are, with the people around us. We can talk and listen to people about the issues, move them and ourselves forward, and see what we figure out. Then we can take the next step, staying in good communication with each other.

2. We can develop a global draft program to end climate change.

We can draft a program with clear steps to be taken to end climate change—a program that is understandable, doable, and hopeful and that represents everyone’s interests. Eventually it will need to address the issues of every constituency and population in the world (we can involve every group we can reach in developing it) so that people worldwide can support it. It should be a program that people can use to stand against restimulations and keep perspective on climate change, even as times get more difficult. We can continually circulate it and revise it as we get input and discharge about it. (I’ve posted a draft of such a program on our website. See <>. Please take a look at it and send your comments to me at <>.) We don’t have to wait for a final program to begin; we know enough to start.

3. We can keep the work on oppression central.

We can model working against racism, classism, the oppression of Native peoples, sexism, and all oppressions. We can interrupt the ways that oppression obscures the impacts of climate change, limits the development of a unified movement, and lessens people’s effectiveness at working for change. We can help people understand the roles that oppression and exploitation have played in causing widespread poverty and the devastation of humans and the planet.

4. We can engage people on the topic of climate change.

We can talk widely about our program, help people think about and understand it, listen to their feelings and thoughts about it, and build support for it. We can listen to their upsets (even when directed at us). We can listen to their despair and hopelessness enough that their thinking can move forward. We can give them accurate information and a better perspective and provide hope that more is possible than they know.

5. We can take our understandings and our tools to others.

We can bring what we know from RC into any organization, group, or movement we are part of by introducing listening and discharge; using mini-sessions, support groups, our discussion format, and speaking order; sharing RC theory on oppression and internalized oppression; keeping relationships strong; handling disagreements and attacks; and sharing our draft program. We can listen to and support good leadership. We can help people communicate more effectively. All this will help or­ganizations and movements be more effective.

6. We can model staying human in difficult situations.

We can treat people well, use a hopeful and confident tone, care for ourselves as we engage in the work, stay rational in the face of restimulations, provide good leadership, actively oppose attacks, and more.

We can do all this, we can play this big a role, and I hope that we will. Stopping climate change is important enough for us to throw ourselves at it, not holding back at all.

With the speed at which climate change is occurring, there may not be enough time for everyone to discharge their way to a rational position—so working for that can’t be our main strategy. But we can get engaged, build support around a good draft program, listen well to reach and fortify people, get RC out into the world, and model human behavior.

We will use our counseling tools all along the way and keep building our RC Community—because we want to re-emerge and we can’t do something this big without our Community—but bringing people into RC cannot be at the center of our program (though as we do this work, many people will probably want to join our Community). Instead we will give more and more people access to the benefits of RC while we play bigger and bigger roles in the global movement.


Some distresses have interfered with our playing bigger roles in the world, and we’ll need to work on them to take on [confront and do something about] climate change. (Tim Jackins has been working with us on them for years.) Here’s what I think we need to take to sessions:

1. We need to work steadily on oppression so we never lose sight of including everyone’s experiences and minds, working as a united force, and acting in everyone’s interests.

2. We need to reject all the ways that classism, racism, sexism, and other oppressions make us feel small and like somebody else can do it better than us. Let’s not act on this anymore. It never did us any good. We are the right people in the right place at the right time.

3. As for the distresses that make us feel small, insignificant, and powerless, and leave us acting timidly or not at all—we know that they are early, but we still struggle not to live within them. Here is the perfect contradiction to them: We are part of a group that’s playing a decisive role in tackling the biggest problem humanity has ever faced. We cannot believe that we are small and insignificant and take this on. (And I’ll remind you that every time we’ve had a good session on these feelings, we’ve realized that they’re a lie, that we can act and make a big difference.)

4. We must discharge on how separate we are. Building relationships and coming together across oppressions are key to every part our work, but our early lack of connection has left us functioning very alone. We need all of us connected and getting closer, and committed to fighting whatever would separate us and turn us against each other.

5. We can each assume we have a critical role to play in bringing about change, and give it everything we’ve got. Let this be a place where we don’t hold back. Giving it everything will run us right into our discouragement, into the feelings of defeat that made us give up fighting in the past. And we will have defeats, too—maybe many. We are up against big, rich, powerful, and entrenched oppressive forces. We will have setbacks; we will lose battles. We will need many big sessions on discouragement.

Once we decide that we are doing something, and are not going to quit no matter what, we have to use the discharge process. We can try new things and be defeated out in the world (not just in our minds) and discharge and come back stronger. We need to do this to see that we can be defeated and stay, figure things out, try again, and eventually win. That is a good thing for us. We get to see how strong and powerful we are.

6. We have to stop settling for small gains. Mostly we’ve used what we’ve learned in RC to simply do good things in the world, not work for huge transformation. We’ve done a lot of good things and made good changes. We can be pleased about that. But we haven’t shaped ourselves into a revolutionary force. Our distresses make us scared to push that hard. Allowing that won’t work for what we’re trying to do. Small changes won’t solve climate change. It’s time to push forward for massive change, on every front.

7. We’ll have to take on [undertake] bigger challenges than we have before. This will mean doing things that we don’t know how to do, and again we’ll run into our early distress. We have a lot of distress about not knowing what to do, because we didn’t know what to do with all the challenges we faced when we were small. But now we can remember that our mind is amazing and that if we point it in the best direction we can figure out, the perceived barriers will crumble before the power of it, and we will discharge. (There were so many things I didn’t know how to do when I started working on climate change. Now I can do many of them. And now there are new things I don’t know how to do, and I’m going to figure those out, too.) We can point our minds and go, even when we don’t know what to do or how to do it. We can try things and learn from our efforts. And we can pull people into our efforts—we don’t have to do any of this alone—and it will move people forward to be by our side.

8. We have to face that transformational change cannot happen without turmoil and that we need to be at the center of the turmoil. We have to put out positions that challenge people, knowing that we personally will be targeted by their upset. We’ll be playing a large role, taking on big challenges, and we will be attacked (sometimes for our mistakes and sometimes in a pattern’s attempt to crush our powerful spirit). And we can discharge, build a group of strong allies around us, and know that we are not vulnerable now like we were when we were small.

9. It would be good not to wait any longer. It would be good to move now, though our distresses are screaming at us to wait and giving us a thousand reasons to delay. How about now?

We also need to not act on patterns of desperation—which is a bit tricky, since the situation is urgent. This is a big discharge issue for many of us, but it doesn’t change the fact that now is the best time to move. Can we relaxedly move quickly?

10. We have to discharge our distresses about the environmental movement. In the United States it started with white owning-class men who didn't consider Native people, People of the Global Majority, or poor or working-class people. The groups they founded (which still exist today, some of them at the center of the work on climate change) ignored huge environmental problems affecting these populations. Classism and racism remain big issues in the predominantly white environmental organizations in the United States (and in other nations of the Global North). We have much to discharge about this. But these organizations are doing important work, are tackling race and class as fast as they know how to, and are more and more working in coalition with the environmental justice and climate justice groups centered on Native people, People of the Global Majority, and labor.

We’ll have to work together with both the mostly white environmental groups and the climate justice groups. They and we have strengths that complement each other, and we can work together. Doing this will have to include working on the history of oppression and separation and on the unawareness and oppression that still exist today. We know how to do this.

The future will be determined by all of us, by our thinking and actions, and that is a very good thing. (Who did you want the future determined by?) What we do about climate change in the next ten years will have ripple effects for at least a thousand years. We get to affect unborn generations of humans and many other species. What better time to be alive than in the most influential decade in the history of humankind?

Diane Shisk

Seattle, Washington, USA

(Present Time 192, July 2018)

* If you need more factual information about the current situation regarding global warming and the immediate threats posed to all life forms, please see the recently updated article “Why We Prioritize Addressing Climate Change,” at

Last modified: 2018-11-23 22:28:05+00