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Racism and the Collapsing Society, Barbara Love and Tim Jackins, June 7, 2020

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Ending Confusion About Ourselves

Our rate of progress through our distresses depends on our relationships, and several other things—one of which is our perspective about ourselves.

We sometimes berate ourselves into action. It is important that we have been able to get things in motion, but berating ourselves is a weak and reactive basis for doing this. It is making things move out of desperation. There is a much better basis.

We can picture the oppressions that support the reactive society—racism, sexism, classism, religious oppression, and so on—as massive columns. One reason they don’t fall over is that filled in between them are all the recordings of discouragement and isolation. Oppressive societies make everyone feel powerless and bad about themselves. This is part of why people cannot get in good contact with each other.

You can’t feel bad about yourself anymore. You have to stop that. This doesn’t mean pretending that you don’t have this distress. It means you have to stop “thinking” that way and believing in it. When your mind has such “thoughts,” you can just turn and say, “The decision’s made; I don’t go there except to discharge on it.” Don’t sit and argue with it. We have already identified it clearly enough as something to be counseled on. It has no other value. You don’t need to be pulled into the confusion. Although you may be far enough along that you can usually win the argument, it is a waste of time to go there and begin the argument.  Every time your mind is pulled to go into that familiar rut, you can decide not to go there. There’s no point in putting the resources of your mind into that sinkhole. To not go there has to become nearly automatic.

Any time we give in to the pull of that distress, we are colluding with the oppressive society. The oppressive society stays in place by making all of us feel so ground down, so helpless, so worthless, that we cannot figure out how to make allies and move things forward. When we feel like we deserve to feel that bad about ourselves, we are not just colluding with our individual distresses, we are also colluding with the way society tries to oppress everyone. 

The picture society has given us about ourselves is entirely false. The picture of us as small, stupid, mistaken, inconsequential, ineffective, is played out and installed on us and then restimulated over and over again. We must struggle to lay out the accurate picture of ourselves clearly enough that the distress is not believable when it echoes in our heads. None of us need to believe our bad or guilty feelings about the distresses we carry.

The destruction of the individual’s perspective is part of the societal oppression. Society destroys the individual’s ability to see himself or herself as someone powerful, valuable, and worth a struggle. A decision to fight against patterns of self-belittlement, to not accept the automatic self-condemnation that echoes out of our distresses, is not self-indulgent. It’s an important part of the struggle that everyone has to go through to be a good fighter against oppression. We remain vulnerable as long as we can be made to feel bad about ourselves. The point of fighting, of struggling against this distress, is not complacency: it’s to get a full sense of what we are capable of doing, including taking on every oppressive aspect of society. There is no real conflict between looking after ourselves as individuals and taking on the full battle against oppression, yet we often feel as if there is.

We struggle on in isolation and hopelessness because it’s “just me.” Instead, we can step back and notice that the “just me” is six billion people. This struggle in our minds is not an isolated occurrence. It is part of what society does to keep people unable to function well enough to oppose its oppression and make things change.

Attacking the main columns that hold up the oppressive society should be fun. Why aren’t we having fun? This should be fun. It should be something we look forward to. That is my goal—to look forward to the next battle, to be searching for the next battle; not just be sure it is coming, but be eager for it. We want the opportunities to turn things away from the present reactive course and start nudging them toward something we can plan and think about and make happen, with thought for both the individual and the whole situation.

When did you last wake up in the morning eager for the challenge of moving things forward? Some people have a memory of such a morning. Maybe you were seven and it was summer. Society had retreated just enough that you could wake up and be pleased and look forward to making things happen.

We are going to change things. We are going to increase the momentum for change. Things will pick up speed in the coming year. To do this we will need to work on whatever keeps us feeling bad about ourselves and hidden from each other. This will require going back and fully facing how we were hurt—looking at what distresses we have had to carry and deciding that they all are to be removed.

It isn’t that the struggle will be over then, but in our minds there will be a “default setting.” When our minds are pulled by distress, chewing on the things we feel that we should or shouldn’t have done, we will know to stop.

We don’t get to feel bad, we don’t get to believe that any longer.

Tim Jackins


Last modified: 2019-11-07 00:05:58+00