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SAL/UER Videos

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

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Community Building

Tim Jackins answering a question at a multi-Regional workshop on Community building, in the Basque Country, March 2014

Question: I would like to hear about RC Community building, especially about how Communities handle class, age, and race. For example, is it a good idea to wait to teach a fundamentals class because so far everybody who wants to take it is white and middle class?

Tim: Building a Community is difficult. Where would you have learned how to do it? How many good examples have you seen? Most of us haven’t seen any.

One of the first questions is why do we want to build Communities? Why don’t we just have a Co-Counselor or two? Well, RC ideas do work with one Co-Counselor. (Some people have no Co-Counselor near them and Skype* over long distances.) We can have good sessions, as long as we are aware of that other mind. But the people who are in that position want to build a Community around them. They want to build it because Co-Counseling works better where there is a larger group.

I think you can make it work all by yourself. I think you do sometimes. There is no one else around and you find a safe place and allow yourself to discharge. And it helps. But if you are in a class every week, and you see other people trying to make their lives better, and others’ lives better, your sessions go better—just knowing that you are not alone in this. Part of what we all struggle with is isolation. 

Our experience has been that Co-Counseling works best in Communities. If you have thirty people around you, it works better than if you have five. It does matter who those people are. For example, you need some experienced people at the center of the Community. That gives everyone confidence and provides resource when people get confused.

We can counsel with anybody, but not everybody will work well as our counselor—often because they are too much like the people who were involved in the ways we got hurt. Sometimes people carry distresses that don’t let them be aware of us, so there are places we don’t go in our sessions with them. Many of the difficulties are due to distresses connected to the oppressions of gender, race, or class. They are due to many things, but especially the oppressions.

It would be wonderful if all our Communities were diverse in all ways. (To a person) How old are you? Twenty-eight? Someone here is twenty-six. It would be lovely to have sixteen-year-olds here. Some Communities have them. It would be lovely to have more people from all different classes and races. That’s the work we all need to do.

One of the best ways to change the composition of a Community is for different people to teach. If your Community is middle class with two working-class people, the middle-class people need to be discharging about class. They need to be figuring out how to build friendships with working-class people, not trying to get them into Co-Counseling. They need to figure that out before working-class people will survive well in the Community. But those two working-class people should be encouraged to teach a class, because that would be a place where other working-class people could come and learn RC.

We all want everyone to get along easily. However, things are still more difficult than that. You don’t want people to have to act like everything is okay. The goal of RC is not to have a happy Community. It’s to have a Community that liberates people’s minds. And if that’s hard work, that’s okay. We are not trying for easy lives. We are trying for better lives, lives that are free of distress.

There are good Communities that struggle a lot as they try to look at their difficulties and not just act happy. Good lives can be hard. That’s all right. It’s all right if we need to keep working on things all the time to move ahead. The fact that we get restimulated and feel bad doesn’t mean that something is wrong. It may mean that we are finally facing and discharging the things that have stopped us. 

As for teaching fundamentals to white middle-class folks, I don’t think it makes sense to wait. What are you waiting for? You are waiting for something to change when you could be trying to change it. It’s hard for me to advise anyone to wait. You will learn much more if you don’t wait, and so will everybody else. You need to be teaching those people to face and work on the oppression. And it might not work. But you will know more and have a better chance at success next time.

* Skype means communicate by voice or video over the Internet.

Last modified: 2020-07-01 09:06:00+00