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The Development of “Commitments”

The idea of “directions” to be held during a session, or between sessions, developed several years ago in an attempt to achieve dependable contradictions to distress and secure consistent discharge. These proved particularly useful in eliminating chronic patterns, since “holding the direction” prevented the rehearsal of the chronic pattern and prevented its recharging. We called this “starving the pattern to death.”

We found that holding a direction worked when the client remembered it by himself or herself, but that, in general, encouragement by an aware counselor made it much more effective. For the time between counseling sessions, it proved crucial that the direction be written and posted in conspicuous places, so that the client could easily remind himself or herself of it.

INDIVIDUAL COMMITMENTS

Later, individual “commitments” developed. A commitment was also a direction, but, more importantly, a promise, seriously made and seriously attempted to be kept by the client. Such a promise contradicted the distress pattern and denied it control over the person’s life. Attempting to keep it made discharge more available, because of the consistent contradiction of the distress, both in session and between sessions. A good individual commitment is a promise to not let the distress dominate one's feeling or behavior. These have proved very effective in the increasingly rapid re-emergence of the most consistent Co-Counselors.

EXCHANGING COMMITMENTS

The “exchange” of commitments proved still more powerful. This meant that well-crafted commitments, worked out by each partner for the other partner with the insights of being outside the other’s distress, would be made to each other alternately ina session. In a good exchange-of-commitments session, both parties usually discharge nearly continuously; at the same time staying aware of each other and playing alternating roles of counselor and client.

The results of such exchanges were often spectacular, but, even so, it proved out that to stay with the process over a long period of time almost required occasional outside attention, or intervention, by a teacher or “supervisor.” Even though the exchange of commitments kept a far higher awareness on the part of each party while in the counselor’s role, over a period of time various patterned excuses and discouragements would intrude to stop the operation of this very effective channel for discharge from both parties.

The use of the individual commitment, crafted against the individual chronic pattern, and the exchange of these commitments is an area of work that needs much more thorough exploration and persistence.

COMMITMENTS AGAINST INTERNALIZED OPPRESSION

In a few cases an individual commitment was spectacularly successful and clearly directed against an internalized oppression of the individual. Such internalized oppressions are shared by other members of each oppression group, and so certain of these commitments began to be used for other members of the groups.

The commitment which Su Edwards began to use in 1980 or1981 became known as the “Woman’s Commitment.” Everywoman who tried it found that a whole area of internalized sexism was contradicted by it and it brought excellent discharge and re-emergence. The “Young Person’s Commitment,” begun with Gill Turner at about the same period, proved effective with every group of young people.

Since these two were published, many requests for the drafting of other such general commitments against internalized oppression have been received and some proposals have been drafted. A few of these have been spectacularly successful, but some must still be regarded as beginning drafts only.

The help of a counselor outside the oppression in drafting such a group commitment against internalized oppression seems important. I was able to draft effective commitments quite easily, for example, for several groups of which I am not a member (women, Jews, young people). When I first attempted commitments for men and working-class people, however, I found myself writing two-page policy statements instead of the short, easily-memorized promises against the heart of the internalized oppression which a commitment should be.

The actual test of the effectiveness of such a commitment, ofcourse, is how much discharge (and, eventually, how much firming and clarity of the clients’ resolve for liberation) it brings for members of the group who use it.

 

Immediate enthusiasm for the commitment is not a test of the commitment's effectiveness. Several effective commitments aroused extreme reluctance to try them among the intended group's members at first, until they had actually been used and brought massive discharge.

WOMEN’S COMMITMENT

I cheerfully (solemnly, fiercely) promise that, from this moment on, I will never again settle for anything less than ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.

YOUNG PERSONS’ COMMITMENT

I solemnly promise that, from this moment on, I will never again treat any young person, including myself, with any-thing less than complete respect.

 

MEN’S COMMITMENT

I promise that from this moment on I will be proud to be male, and will seek closeness and brotherhood with every other man of every age, race, nation, and class.

I will seek to restore safety to all men to discharge the cruel hurts that have been put upon us and will permit no slandering, disrespect, or blaming of any man for these hurts.

I will fight to end and eliminate the burdening of men with over-fatigue, over-responsibility, and coercion into armed service in which we have been brutalized and made to kill or be killed.

I will cherish my birthright of being a good, intelligent, courageous, and powerful male human.

ELDERS’ COMMITMENT

I promise that I will never die, I will never slow down, and I will have more fun than ever.

PARENTS’ COMMITMENT

I promise to remember always that I am a good parent, that I have always done the best I could, that I have passed on to my children as few of the hurts that I endured as a child as I could possibly manage.

 

WORKING-CLASS COMMITMENT

I solemnly promise, that from this moment on, I will take pride in the intelligence, strength, endurance, and goodness of working-class people.

I will remember to be proud that we do the world’s work, that we produce the world’s wealth, that we belong to the only class with a future, that our class will end all oppression.

I will unite with all my fellow-workers everywhere around the world to lead all people to a rational, peaceful society.

I am a worker, proud to be a worker, and the future is in my hands.

 

MIDDLE-CLASS COMMITMENT

I cheerfully promise from now on to stand proudly visible, to be my true self without caution or pretense, to work for the unity and liberation of all working people, and never to be quiet again.

OWNING-CLASS COMMITMENT

I promise that, from this moment on, I will refuse to feel guilty or accept blame or isolation for the class position in which my birth or other events placed me, but will instead take full pride in my complete humanness. I will recognize and remember my close ties to all other human beings. I will treasure and appreciate the favorable factors in my back ground which allowed me to keep much of my humanness and abilities intact and functioning. I pledge that this humanness and these abilities and advantages will be used, with zest and joy, for the complete liberation of every human being from every oppression.

BLACK PERSONS’ COMMITMENT

For the complete liberation of my beautiful, wise, strong, and courageous black people, I solemnly promise I will al-ways remember my own goodness and strength.

I will eliminate every division separating us from each other and from other people.

I will settle for nothing less than complete liberation, complete equality, complete opportunity, and complete respect for everyone.

 

JEWISH COMMITMENT

For the long-range survival of my people, I solemnly promise that, from this moment on, I will treat every person I meet as if she or he were EAGER to be my warm, close, dependable friend and ally, under all conditions.

LESBIAN COMMITMENT

Because I’m good, and belong, like every other woman, at the center of things, I promise never again to accept limits on my relationships, my loving, and my abilities.

GAY MEN’S COMMITMENT

Beloved brothers, because of our supreme importance to the world now and forever, I promise you that I will always remember that our love is good and that my manhood is complete and without limits.

CHICANO/A COMMITMENT

In respect for my beautiful land and the enduring and proud people that inhabit it, I promise that I shall cherish my culture and language, unite my people, and, in alliance with all peoples of the world, see that all oppressions are ended.

IRISH COMMITMENT

For the long-range encouragement of my brave and noble people, I joyfully promise that, from this moment on, I will never again demean myself, or permit myself to be demeaned, nor permit any Irish person to be demeaned by anyone, including the person herself or himself, but shall stand as a proud example of the beauty, nobility, and wisdom of my wonderful people.

 

IN GAEILGE

Do saoirseacht agus sábháilteacht mo dhaoine uasla is cróga, geallaim le croí eadtrom, as seo amach, gan mé féin a chur faoi smacht, ná ní ligfídh mé aon duine eile mé fein a chur faois macht, ná aon duine eile, ise ná sise freisin. De bharr sin, seasfaidh mé mar shampla maorga den aoibhneacht, uaisleacht agus tuiscint mo dhaoine.

 

translated by Máirín Ní Ghnímh (Agnew)

 

CANADIAN

I promise to always treasure our beautiful land and waters and our vast spaces and thriving cities, and to love every Canadian, celebrating our diversity, our Native hosts, and our anglophone, francophone, and other guests, and remembering our stamina and boldness now and throughout our his-tory.

The True North, Strong and Free!

(from Bill Moore)

 

UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE FACULTY COMMITMENT

As a full-fledged human being, I promise to think and respect thinking, to allow no invalidation of any scholar or teacher, including myself, to refuse to be isolated from my colleagues or act as an agent of oppression, and to boldly apply my full knowledge and power to the creation of a just world.

ARTISTS’ COMMITMENT

I promise to always remember my power, love, and intelligence as an artist, and the vital role that artists have played in every culture and time. I will never again invalidate any artist, including myself, or any work of art, but rather ally myself with all artists to end our economic oppression, and enthusiastically encourage the creativity of every human.

SOUTHERN UNITED STATESERS’ COMMITMENT

I sincerely promise that, from this moment on, I will never falter in my pride in being a Southerner, in my love for the beautiful Southern land, for the thoughtful courtesy and caring of its people, for their often-obscured but always-persisting resistance to oppression, for all our proud heritage and our brilliant future.

I shall never lose sight of the fact that all people of the South are my sisters and brothers, nor allow any slight against any Southern person to go uncorrected, not even if voiced by Southerners themselves.

The real South will rise again!

UNITED STATESERS’ COMMITMENT

The United States is my country.

I shall forever claim her with pride in her every good quality and with determination to correct any past, present, or future wrongs.

 

My United States!

With freedom and justice for all!

 


Last modified: 2021-07-07 18:47:50+00