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Turning a Situation Around Using RC

In the last Present Time we asked the following question of the readers:
When is a time you have used what you know from RC to turn a situation in the wide world around
(in a big or small way)?                 Here are the responses we received:

This fall one of our African-American students was stabbed on campus. The Administration initially decided to not put any attention on what happened, sending out a letter to the staff saying that "we are not immune to the violence in our wider society . . . ." Many students were very upset and thought our college needed to respond as a community.

I attended a student senate meeting at their invitation and brought copies of The Art of Listening with me. I suggested the idea of a meeting in which we each took turns listening to each other about how we felt after the stabbing took place.

Two weeks later, the college (students and Administration) sponsored an all-college meeting during which we divided up into small groups for listening to each other.

The students insisted that "interested teachers like Phyllis" be the "facilitators." The Administration had wanted off-campus professionals, who also came, but as speakers.

I was delighted that my support of the students' concerns seemed to push the Administration to sponsor this campus-wide meeting.

Phyllis Greenleaf
Sonora, California, USA

In answer to the question you posed in the October edition of Present Time, I use RC all the time in my interaction with the wide world. I am a different person now that I have RC theory and practise, and that difference means that I am more effective and successful in my connections with other human beings. I love them more.

Steve Woodward
Kemble, Cirencester, England

Recently, at a church women's retreat, a few of us were putting together a very difficult jigsaw puzzle. Several times women came over, were unable to fit any pieces together, got discouraged, and left. We were not able to persuade them to stay. I began to enthusiastically praise any and all fitting together of pieces. The women who were working on the puzzle began to hold up each success to me for approval. Each time I was wildly enthusiastic. They would laugh but kept working on the puzzle. Pretty soon they were also appreciating each other's efforts. Women began to work on the puzzle for longer periods of time. The composition of the group changed over the weekend, but the support continued and the puzzle was filled out more and more. On the last morning of the weekend, the entire group gathered around a few women and rooted them on as they completed the jigsaw puzzle. Everyone cheered and applauded when it was finished.

Susan Mullins
Brooklyn, New York, USA

I assist our local men's leader with an outreach group designed to introduce new men to RC. We contacted the East Anglia Men's Network, which is a loose affiliation of various men's groups in our area. They said they were planning a "day for men" and asked if we would like to come along to introduce ourselves. When we arrived for the meeting, we were surprised to find about eight men in position in front of TV cameras that were ready to film them talking about themselves for a documentary on "men and divorce." The director was a young woman, who introduced herself by saying she didn't really know anything about the men's movement and didn't know what to do.

About ten minutes of people interrupting each other followed, and no one was being heard. I decided to take charge. I asked if everyone would stop talking and listen to my suggestion. I said that in our group we take turns giving each other respectful listening and that the only way people get to express themselves fully is by not being interrupted. I said that we should go around and have everyone in turn say their name, where they're from, and something about how their group works, and that everyone else should promise not to interrupt or comment until the end.

They agreed, and it turned out fine. Everyone gave a good presentation which took about forty minutes. Then the director took her turn and said that she had some questions she would like us to consider. More interrupting followed. So I suggested that we do the same for the questions as we did in the introductions. Some people objected to that, but I said that it would not work as well if people did not listen well to each other. Again they all agreed and did their best to be positive.

Then the cameras rolled, and for ninety minutes we men talked really well, and there was hardly any interrupting. It was interesting to find out that nearly all of the groups opted for listening time and physical closeness as part of their program.

Afterwards, the cameraman came up to me. He was moved by some of the things I had said about the oppression of men. He said, "I got some great close-ups of your face as you were talking. I really connected with what you were saying." It was a good evening.

Colin Stroud
Haslingfield, Cambridgeshire, England

When my son was in second grade, he came home one day and told me he had been teased at school. The next day, I spoke with his teacher about dealing with it in a way that would be useful to everyone in the class. The teacher was very supportive (this was a public school) and gave me the classroom. I asked everyone to sit on the floor in a circle, and I basically conducted a little RC class. I asked everyone who had been teased to raise their hands. Everyone did. I asked several other questions that got them to think about what they would do or say so that it would stop. They each had creative, light ideas. I then had them split into pairs for "mini-sessions." At the end I said we were going to share how we felt different. I also asked them to find out where their ancestors were born and to bring the information back. The next week I brought a map of the world, and everyone put a pin on the place where his or her family came from.

Pam Geyer
Bellaire, Texas, USA

Some of the RC members here attended an obsequies ceremony for a young adult who had worked for the upliftment of a slum area. We, the RC members, were asked to conduct the programme (we are also social workers). I took charge of presiding over it. A few of the participants praised the dead one. As chairperson, I requested that his friends and relatives talk about him. Hence, a few more participants came and talked in front of the gathering. His brother came up and started talking: 'Brothers and sisters . . .' He couldn't continue. No more words. Tears started. I looked at him, and when he saw me he started crying loudly. I gave him my full attention with more love. His cry burst out. 'Stop crying,' participants said. I told him, 'Crying is good. Your brother's death is a great loss for you and his wife.' He continued crying for another five minutes. At last he said, 'I lost my brother, but I have a lot of love from many of you.' This was an experience which happened in front of a microphone. It was a surprising one to the participants. After the ceremony, some of them asked me why I allowed him to cry. I explained about the natural forms of discharge and told them part of RC theory. Now there are some regular RCers from among the participants.

Arasu Bhashyamnagdar 
Bangalore, India

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00