Something We Can Do

Tim Jackins, at the West Coast Canada and United States Reference Persons’ Workshop, January 2014

So what can we do about the environment, in our still somewhat timid, ill-informed state? (laughter) Probably the best thing we can do is listen. We can ask everybody for their thinking about the environment and how it’s changing, and listen.

WE KNOW HOW TO LISTEN

We know how to listen. We can do it even when it brings up our fears. We’ve been in many sessions with Co-Counselors whose material restimulates us, and we have still been able to sit there and listen to them.

We not only need thought and action. More than anything else, to make change happen, we need large numbers of people who can think well enough to follow good policies, even if they can’t figure them out independently. To do that they need someone to listen to them. Then they can get a little slack and think farther. Our mass media are adept at keeping everybody restimulated enough to not think too much, and they do it on this issue all the time. So there is not a lot of slack easily available for people.

You are a major source in the world of the ability to give people a little slack. You can listen. They don’t know that about you. Some people will be drawn toward you anyway, but in general they don’t know that you have the ability to do this great, wonderful thing. Most of the time you keep it a secret from them.

You can initiate it. You can go out and ask people what they think, and listen. This is our great discovery—the listening project.1 We can go ask people questions and listen. Yes, it turns out2 it is a great discovery. It does a lot of wonderful things.

It’s not complicated. We don’t need a long-term strategy, and we can do it individually. We have had listening projects on many issues, in many places. In Israel during the Intifada,3 we went out and asked people what they thought about the Intifada.

You can go out and ask people about the environment. You may hear upset. You probably will. Just listen to it. You know that’s what they need. You can do this with the people around you at work. You can do it anywhere. Take a half an hour a week and sit on the same park bench with a little sign that says, “What do you think about the environment?” You would have a full and interesting half hour that would probably improve your life greatly. No big cost, no big danger. No big anything, except it would open up a bunch of minds. If we had as many people as are here at this workshop doing that a half hour a week, all in one spot in one city, we would probably watch something begin to percolate.

We need to do this. You could do this. I dare you to do it! Sometime in the next month, ask a couple of people a question and listen for five or ten minutes. Then write on the RC Community e-mail discussion list about what happened. Start conversations about it on the list, so that others of us get the idea there is something within our grasp that we can do.

WE CAN SHOW OUR MINDS

A second thing is that you likely know more about the environment, and can think about it more, than most people around you. You have ideas about it. There are the ideas we discuss on the e-mail list and in Present Time. There is our goal.4 You also have your own ideas about it. And there are local applications of all these ideas right around you. It would be really useful to people to hear your thoughts. It would be useful even if your ideas were lousy. It really would. You don’t have to worry about having the best or most correct idea. People simply need to see somebody thinking about this. They need to see that, because it starts their thinking. You not only want to give them the space, you also want to “seed” it, which is a little more challenging than just listening. You want to provide a starting place, whether you end up in an argument, or in agreement, or asking each other questions and filling out each other’s picture of the issues.

This means you have to show your mind, which is harder than just listening to someone else. A lot of us get stuck in listening, because we are still timid. A lot of us still try to build relationships by just listening to someone for a long time. Then we wonder why the relationship doesn’t equal out, doesn’t come into balance.

Of course, to build a relationship and to face important issues takes more than one mind. There have to be minds looking back and forth at each other, at what’s real in the world—trading perspectives, seeing where things don’t make sense on one side or the other. People need each other as reference points in figuring out the issues. So you have to decide to show your mind.

WE CAN PRACTICE IN SESSIONS

Maybe you are going to have to do this in Co-Counseling sessions first. In your next session, try giving a five-minute talk on your perspective about the whole environment, the environment in your city, the mess at the end of the street. It doesn’t matter which place it is. Do this in a session so you can see which distresses you run into and what has stopped you so far.  A little practice does not hurt either. We are often not good at practicing. We hope our good intentions will carry us through a lot of things, because we are afraid to feel our distresses by practicing. It really helps to practice and work on the things that get in our way.

I am thankful that in becoming a teacher I had to face learning to communicate. I got to work at it and work at it. The first place I got to do that was when I was teaching second grade. It was a great place to learn to communicate—very forgiving. Every day I got to practice my communication, watch what happened, go have sessions on it, and then come back and try again. It takes practice to get good at communication, given how much it has been discouraged in all of our lives. So go work on it until you enjoy it, until you look forward to somebody coming up and grimly saying, “What do you mean, the environment?” You can figure out how to be around them, interested and friendly, enough that they start thinking, and come back.

Everybody is waiting for you. I know you may feel that you are imposing, or that you always run into hostile opposition, or that nobody wants you to interact with them. It’s not true. Everybody is waiting for a mind like yours to make contact with, a mind with some resource that they can recognize. And they are us. They are no different from us, except that we have had a lot of great advantages and resource.

Try it sometime in the next month. Then if you are not on the RC e-mail list, get on it and write about what happened—good, bad, or indifferent. Don’t pretty it up.5 Don’t do anything but talk about reality. What really happened?


1 In an RC listening project, one or more Co-Counselors go to a public place and offer to listen to passersby about some important issue. They may hold signs that invite people to share their thinking.
2 “It turns out” means it is being revealed that.
3 The Intifada refers to the Second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. It lasted from 2000 to 2005.
4 The new goal on the environment adopted by the 2013 World Conference of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities:

That members of the RC Community work to become fully aware of the rapid and unceasing destruction of the living environment of the Earth. That we discharge on any distress that inhibits our becoming fully aware of this situation and taking all necessary actions to restore and preserve our environment.

Distresses have driven people to use oppression against each other and carry out destructive policies against all of the world. A full solution will require the ending of divisions between people and therefore the ending of all oppressions.

The restoration and preservation of the environment must take precedence over any group of humans having material advantage over others. We can and must recover from any distress that drives us to destroy the environment in our attempts to escape from never-ending feelings of needing more resource.
5 “Pretty it up” means make it seem better than it was.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00