News flash


Knowing Our

October 7 or
October 8

September 17-23

 Julian Weissglass—International Communality Reference Person for Wide World Change.

All Co-Counselors Are Wide World Changers

In RC we use the expression wide world change for the transformation of society into one in which humans no longer hurt humans. When I agreed to serve as the International Commonality Reference Person for Wide World Change in 1997, my goal was a world where the resources are shared equally and the essential ones preserved forever. This is still my goal.

In one sense, all Co-Counselors are engaged in wide world change. Every session helps us recover our intelligence and thus increases our ability to make the world better. When we begin RC, we usually start by working on individual hurts. Most of us, sooner or later, realize that we cannot fully recover from our distresses unless the oppressive society changes. Many of us then get involved in trying to improve the institutions in which we live and work—families, schools, workplaces, community organizations. In this sense we become what people in the wide world call activists. There are many ways of thinking about RC. One that I like is that we are a nonviolent movement to transform the oppressive society into one that is good for everyone.


The key issue facing the world and people engaged in wide world change is changing the economic system. Most of the world is dominated by an economic system that gives consumption and the accumulation of wealth higher priority than the well-being of people and the natural world. Some of the results are that our climate is changing, species are becoming extinct at a great rate, and the threat of nuclear war has increased. Any of these could ultimately lead to the destruction of organized societies as we know them.

Humanity can make progress in protecting the environment, decreasing oppression, and preventing some wars and genocides. In fact, we have made progress. However, as long as we have a society that exploits the natural world and the labor of workers to increase the wealth of the owning class, it will not be possible to end oppression, eliminate poverty, end wars, or stop harming the natural world.

I do not know how to change the economic system. Large numbers of us are going to have to discharge on classism, money, economic systems, competition, and the distresses that I mention later in this article, to be able to propose a different economic system that people will unite behind, adopt, and establish. This new system will require that we depend largely on renewable energy and reduce consumption to sustainable levels. Most of the reduction in consumption and in the use of fossil fuels will need to come from people living in “developed” countries. I am quite sure that humans can do all this, but it will not be easy. 


We have to confront two main challenges in order to change the current economic system:

Challenge 1: to fully reclaim our own minds and our own power

Challenge 2: to organize large numbers of people who will demand and carry out the transformation of society into one in which all humans flourish, and to support the leaders of this movement

Fully reclaiming our minds and our power will require that we discharge distress recordings of powerlessness, discouragement, lack of intelligence, and timidity. It will require that we stop falling into the victim role. We cannot only discharge about our upsets; we must also decide what we want to change about the world and act.

Some of our distress recordings were installed on us when we were infants. Some of them we absorbed unconsciously from our family members and other adults. Many of these recordings are the result of a long history of our ancestors living in fear. They endured oppression, war, genocide, poverty, and abuse. Their natural ability to discharge distress was suppressed. At present, “mental health” oppression continues to interfere with people’s inherent ability to discharge.


War is an organized conflict using weapons. Genocide is an act committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. It can mean killing members of the group, causing them serious bodily or mental harm, deliberately inflicting on them conditions calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction, imposing measures to prevent births within the group, forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.1 

My work over the past fifteen years on healing from war and genocide has helped me understand the damaging effects of war and genocide on human beings.

Experiencing war and genocide directly is terrifying. Even when they happen in different places, or happened long ago, they install distress recordings on people. It is confusing and frightening for young people to learn that people fight wars and commit genocide. Learning that people organize to kill other people contributes to our confusion about the nature of human beings.

When our ancestors experienced the terror of war and genocide, there was little attention available to support their discharge. As a result, the distress recordings installed on them were passed on to the next generation, which passed them on to the next. Every human has distress recordings from this, even if she or he is not aware of what they are. War and genocide cause or contribute to feelings of hopelessness and discouragement; fear about survival; a pull to commit suicide; difficulty in trusting others; and addictions (to food, sex, pornography, alcohol, drugs, the accumulation of wealth, overwork). They allow governments to characterize certain groups of humans as the enemy and to accept, and even promote, violence as a way of solving conflicts. This allows armaments manufacturers and dealers to make huge profits.

On the personal level, the recordings from war and genocide may affect our ability to oppose oppression as active and visible allies, to discharge our oppressor distress, or to show our true feelings in sessions. They may affect the attention we have for people, especially combat veterans, who have personally experienced the horrors of war. (Fortunately this is changing as more people commit to discharging on war and genocide.) We need to remember that different groups targeted by genocide may have different recordings, depending on their history and culture.


In movements working for social and economic justice, it is important to support leaders from every oppressed group, including those who are different from us and whose style of leadership may make us uncomfortable or contradict our oppressor distress.


Because of the rapidity of climate change, there may not be enough time to change the minds of people in power to where they move toward a rational society. Achieving our goals may therefore require us to engage in strategic nonviolent resistance2 movements and to bring RC tools to activists so that they can get support for their work, support leaders, and keep protest actions nonviolent.

When activists encounter RC, they may see it as an essential and missing component of their work. On the other hand, they may be skeptical about RC theory and distrustful of how we are organized. They may have unrealistic expectations about what the RC Communities will provide. They may not value emotional release, listening, or encouraging people to think for themselves. They may be afraid of or angry about the theory or draft policies we put forth. They may accuse us of incompetence. They may be disappointed that we do not always live up to our theory, or that individual Co-Counselors have patterns, or that our Communities sometimes have difficulties. They may be restimulated if we are not as committed as they are to working for social justice, or if we do it differently.

The distresses that we, mostly unawarely, carry about activists and activism may cause activists to feel unwelcome in the RC Community. The intensity and overwork patterns that many activists carry may restimulate us. Having activists as Co-Counselors may remind us of our own strong desire, perhaps not fulfilled, to fight against injustice.

Apart from discharging feelings about activists and activism, Co-Counseling teachers may need to modify their class and support-group schedules so that activists can fit RC into their lives. Doing this is an important step in our becoming more flexible in how we teach RC. We also can play an important role in helping activists overcome the internalized oppression (of all kinds) that interferes with their doing their work.

We in RC have the understanding and tools to contribute significantly to the transformation of society. It is important that we make the effort to do this, even if we do not succeed. We can be pleased with ourselves for engaging in the struggle.


Here are some questions you can use in Co-Counseling sessions:

What does a “rational society” mean for you? What is your vision?

How have you participated outside of RC in organized action to resist injustice? Are there changes you would like to make in how you act in this area?

What distress recordings interfere most with your ability to think about the transformation of the oppressive society? What are the early defeats involved in these distress recordings? See “Overcoming Early Defeats and Discouragements,” by Tim Jackins, in Present Time No. 162, January 2011 (on the RC website at <>), or listen to the CD An Effective Way to Work Early (RC Teacher Update No. 18, winter 2009).

What distresses do you need to discharge so that you are able to listen to the opinions and stories of people who disagree with you?

How does your class background affect your ability to work and speak out against injustice?

What are your feelings about participating in strategic nonviolent resistance (civil disobedience)?

When you were a young person and young adult, how did adults treat your ideas for changing society? What kind of support did you receive (or not receive) for your ideas?

What would you have to give up to bring your consumption of resources to the average world expenditure per capita? How would you feel about doing that? What are your feelings about reducing your carbon footprint?

How and where can you share RC with activists? What might get in your way?

What feelings do you have when you say, “I am a human being, no better or worse than any other human being”?

Julian Weissglass and others

International Commonality Reference Person for Wide World Change

Santa Barbara, California, USA

(Present Time 188, July 2017)

1 This description of genocide is adapted from the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1948.
2 Nonviolent resistance is a philosophy of and strategy for social change that rejects the use of violence and advocates nonviolent action (or civil resistance) as an alternative to passive acceptance of oppression and to armed struggle. Strategies used include education, mass non-cooperation, civil disobedience, nonviolent direct action, and boycotts.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00