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

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Discharging on Violence

I was recently at John Sellen’s1 Northern Prairies Teachers’ and Leaders’ Workshop, and I am excited to share what I learned.

John invited us to discharge about violence—violence we had experienced, violence we had directly witnessed, any violence we had perpetrated (staying in touch with the reality of our essential goodness!), and violence we had witnessed in the world—and how it had affected us. I was struck by the brilliance of this suggestion.

I have believed for a long time that we are evolving as a human race. I remember thinking this when I was first teaching Co-Counseling. I saw how it was training people to listen, teaching the power of relationship to heal, and allowing the discharge of emotions. (Allowing people to fully discharge is new for human beings. We are still learning how to do it, right?) These things move us forward as a human race into the connected, loving relationships we want and that we want to see in the world.

Tim2 wrote a long time ago that our most powerful form of protection is relationships. That is an evolutionary thought.And now scientists are confirming it—that relationships are the most evolved form of human protection system (the others being fight, flight, and freeze). Yet we have thousands of years of human violence stored in our memory, in the burdensome patterns we carry. What a brilliant thing to discharge on our histories of violence. How might this move us forward in our re-emergence, and move forward the re-emergence of the human race?

What came up for me in sessions was the new awareness that my grandfather was a child soldier. I had noticed that I had a lot of feelings, an aching in my heart, whenever I heard about child soldiers. I had known that my grandfather, from a family of Ukrainian peasant farmers, had been drafted seven times into the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the wars of Eastern Europe in the last part of the nineteenth century, before he emigrated with my grandmother and my year-old mother. This past year at a family funeral, I had seen a photo of them that I’d never seen before, taken when they first arrived as immigrants. I had been shocked at how young my grandfather looked. If he was that young and had already been in the army seven times, how old could he have been when he was first drafted? My grandfather was cannon fodder. I discharged deep sadness about how child soldiers have been around for a long time.

And I discharged about how A— was in the Vietnam War, in Da Nang, when I was sixteen. (Sadly, forty-seven years later, he still shows signs of PTSD.3) I counseled about high school friends drafted to Vietnam who were killed or came back emotionally scarred, and about the young wounded veterans at Occupy Chicago,4 in summer 2012, throwing their medals to the ground.

I look forward to lots of great re-evaluations, more re-emergence.

Dorothea Hrossowyc
Northfield, Minnesota, USA


1 John Sellen is the Regional Reference Person for Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, USA, and Manitoba, Canada.
2 Tim Jackins
3 Post-traumatic stress disorder
4 Occupy Chicago was a movement to fight corporate abuse.


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00