The Challenge of Opening a New Frontier

For RC's most recent perspective on issues related to this article, see: Human Connections, and Sex

The "frontier theme" of the proposals I made in July and August of 1995 to the world meeting of RC leaders in Seattle was to evolve a policy and action for changing the present conditions in the world for a large section of the world's population. This group of humans is so hurt by the societal oppression as to be "excluded" from the usual functionings of the society. The society imposes certain patterns upon them by accident or by routine oppressions, and then almost totally damages or destroys their lives as "punishment" for the way they function after having been damaged in this way. These groups of people have received so little intelligent consideration that it's been difficult to find a single word or phrase to describe them inclusively. My current proposed description, which is the best I've found so far, is to call them "people marked for destruction by the society." "Punished" is a misleading "righteous" term often used about them, but that word implies some kind of guilt being assigned to these victims, and to do this, as we in RC should know, is completely wrong.

These people's condition is crying out to be understood and remedied. These people are desperately waiting to be championed and rescued, by fresh, profound, bold thinking and action. These are the people confined to prisons, jails, or penitentiaries, or in "mental" hospitals. Their numbers include the members of the armed services who are forced into mortal combat; the women (and the men) who practice prostitution; the people addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and all other addicting drugs, whether these drugs are introduced to them by advertising, the culture they grew up in, by the medical establishments (including psychiatrists, psychologists, and "therapists"), or by the poverty-stricken "youth cultures" using "illegal" street drugs. These people include the victims of "capital" punishment, the people deprived of their very lives by "execution" by the organs of the state.

As a preliminary to thinking in this area, I proposed that we RCers refresh and update our policy towards the group of people who practice sex with their own gender or who "identify" themselves with that role. This is a group whose liberation from oppression we have consistently championed and will continue to champion. This is a group which a few very experienced Co-Counselors have learned to counsel well, but whose origin and oppression the Community as a whole has not yet understood well nor learned to assist well in their re-emergence.

This group of Gay men, Lesbians, and bisexual persons is treated by the society with some of the cruelty which the "people marked for destruction by the society" have received. I proposed that all of us in the Co-Counseling Communities bring ourselves up-to-date in understanding these friends and learning to counsel them very well. In the process of doing this, it will be necessary to work out the basic principles involved in liberating the victim of a pattern but not defending, nor identifying with, the pattern itself. This challenge is proposed as a necessary preliminary step for preparing ourselves to learn to deal with the oppression of the larger and much more heavily oppressed group of the "people marked for destruction."

The response to this proposal has gone well. A few people have questioned this policy of the Communities, but in the main, the response has been a great deal of discharge and re-evaluation. This process continues. The Gay men, Lesbians, and bisexual leaders have been outstanding in their willingness to discharge their way to clarity. There is some excellent discussion elsewhere in this issue of Present Time (pp. 47 to 59) on this process. I recommend it to your attention.

In this article, however, I propose to begin evolving a policy toward defending and rescuing the people "marked for destruction by society." Existing attitudes of the oppressive society are clearly wrong. They simply settle for "punishing" the victims. The "punishers" of the society continue todefend the destruction of these people and refuse to consider alternatives. Their policies and proposals are part of the oppression and destruction itself.

The proposals and the actions of the "professional therapists" of the society have a long and plain record of ineffectiveness. There are clues to what will work, however, in the determined caring work of many individuals who have worked in prisons and "half-way houses." There is much in the activities of Alcoholics Anonymous and other "twelve-step" organizations that we can learn from.

Support groups are an obvious place to begin thinking. The mutual understanding that people suffering a similar oppression reach in taking turns in a support group creates an atmosphere where people can begin to realize where they have been hurt, begin to share their common experiences, and eventually begin to discharge the distresses which have been imposed upon them. They can begin to see the imposed oppression that has enslaved them into the activities which have marked them for destruction. The practice of discharge, re-evaluation, and re-emergence can begin to be learned here. The resource will be the people themselves in their "peer" groups.

RCers can teach the interruption of the rehearsals of internalized oppression and self-condemnation. The communication of the basic knowledge of Re-evaluation Counseling theory in simple language is a task that we have to think about more and more carefully.

Some of the key principles that have already evolved in Re-evaluation Counseling will need to be explained, emphasized, and insisted upon-for example, the "wrongness" of blame and the destructive effect of it, whether it is done from the outside or suffered in an internalized form. We will need to clarify, over and over, that every action that took place in the past happened only because it had to happen. The past is determined. It cannot be reached from the present, so, once it is in the past, it could not have happened in any other way. Therefore, any blame is a completely destructive activity. Along with this, it needs to be emphasized that the future is completely free, and no person is really compelled to repeat the harmful activities of the past. We need to remind each other, again and again, that the two "twin" processes of discharge and decision can always operate effectively, particularly when the victim is reminded from outside of the reality in these affairs.

As one channel for the needed discussion, there is now a discussion LIST (access@list.rc.org) on the Internet. Any interested person with an e-mail address may become a participant subscriber by writing to me of his or her interest in, and his or her understanding of, the need to halt this "destruction of people by society." It will help to know the principles of RC sufficiently to be able to discuss them with others, but people do not need to already be RCers. I will work out a beginning statement of what we think we already know about the process of reaching people who are condemned in this way. We'll revise the statement continually as additional information or principles come to light. This growing body of information will be kept available as other participants add themselves to the LIST.

You may write to me

either at ircc@rc.org or at:
719 Second Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA

and say you wish to be subscribed to access@list.rc.org and give the reasons why you are interested. Your contributions will be edited before they go on the LIST, and anyone may download from it.

People who have been in, or worked in, prisons, armed combat troops, brothels, drug addictions, and/or have attempted "social work" in these areas are especially welcome to contribute.

Harvey Jackins


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07