Thoughts About Growth

I have been looking at why our Region1 has not been growing very successfully in the last twenty years. I think not growing has been hard on each of us personally, and hard on us as an RC Community.

I also think that if we haven’t successfully taught RC to a lot of new people, then we don’t really know that RC is “true” (in other words, an accurate description of reality). We may believe it’s true, but that is different. Without the direct knowledge gained from experience, we can end up having a “faith-based” relationship with the theory and practice. We can feel comfortable when we are around people who also believe in RC, but we don’t have a solid confidence that RC works, or can be made to work, for all humans.

Growth is a sign of success, and lack of growth does mean some kind of failure. What have we done in the face of that failure? We’ve put all our energy into successful activities within the existing Community (and we’ve done some good things). We haven’t looked very hard at why we haven’t grown much, because it’s too discouraging.

With the discouragement pushed down and out of sight, and not worked on, of course it hasn’t moved. I think this hidden discouragement (which looks like pretence) can make it even harder for us to communicate RC accurately and without urgency.

So I figured out that it is important for us to grow—not just so we spread RC ideas, which is important, and not just as a Community, but so that each of us, as an individual, builds RC around himself or herself. Unless we do that, we aren’t going to have Communities made up of2 individuals who are confident in their understanding of RC. We won’t do good RC within our Communities, and we won’t spread RC outside of our existing Communities.

Why had we found growth so difficult? What was it we had been doing wrong—repeatedly? I started by looking at where I had succeeded and where I’d failed in involving new people.

I could see that where I had succeeded, I’d had an ongoing relationship with a person. He or she was part of my life in a big way. Where I had failed, I hadn’t had that kind of relationship. Not only that, I’d had no idea how to get that kind of relationship.

WHAT WORKED

Part of what worked was having more than just organised RC contact with people. When people were my close friends or family, I had lots of contact with them outside of organised RC activities. During those “ordinary” times, we were open, aware, and deliberate about using RC ideas to guide the way that we interacted and our goals for our time together. Another way of saying this is that we “lived” RC.

Another part of what worked was that I added people to this group one at a time, so that each new person came into a group of us that was already using RC successfully in our personal interactions. The new people started learning RC in a way that was different from simply attending a fundamentals class once a week.

A further sign of the success of this (accidental) strategy was that the people I reached were successfully reaching out to people around them.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK

Why did it fail when I tried to reach people with RC with whom I didn’t have a close, committed relationship—and didn’t feel like I could have one? A lot of RCers struggle to talk about RC to people in their lives, largely because of “mental health” oppression, but I took pride in being able to talk about it to almost everyone I met. In fact, it was almost hard for me not to talk about it. Now I can see that I was talking about RC because I didn’t know how to talk about much else. I didn’t know how to make a relationship that didn’t have RC in it. I had done a lot of work on getting close to people within the RC Community—through all kinds of liberation work in workshops, classes, and Co-Counselling sessions. Learning about closeness within an RC setting had been useful in many ways, and shown me what was possible for human beings, but to some extent it had also provided a substitute for building closeness in the rest of my life. When faced with someone I was not already close to, I would try in various ways to get him or her to do RC, because then we would have a ready-made formula for how to be close with each other and I would not have to face my difficulties in getting close. I was also looking for a way to have friends with whom I could communicate and agree about difficult topics, like racism and classism.

Now I understand why I was so unsuccessful with these people! I needed to stop unawarely pushing RC as the only route to being close and instead teach RC only on the basis of building a close relationship.

When I put this out to leaders in my Region, many said that it was a mistake that they had been making, too. I think we all need to do a lot of work on forming close personal relationships.

One way I expressed this is “Growth of RC isn’t about bringing in people so much as bringing in growing, alive, fought-for relationships.”

Karl Lam
Regional Reference Person for Cambridge,
Herts, Beds, Bucks, and Norfolk, in England
Burwell, Cambridgeshire, England

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for Regional Reference Persons


1 A Region is a subdivision of the International Re-evaluation Counseling Community, usually consisting of several Areas (local RC Communities).
2 Made up of means consisting of.


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