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Listening, Learning, and Discharging

Where I live in the United States, there is misinformation and lack of information about West Asian countries and Muslim, Arab, and other West Asian peoples. People are vulnerable to being manipulated and confused by racism and anti-Jewish oppression.

Many of the difficulties and conflicts in West and South Asia and North Africa were started and have been maintained by the governments and corporations of the United States and Europe. A lot of people I know have difficulty paying attention to the details of these situations.

Paying attention to and discharging about what’s happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Iran, and other places in West and South Asia and North Africa has helped me sort through the misinformation coming from corporations and our government. I read newspaper accounts. I listen to interviews of people involved and work hard to understand what they think, feel, and are hoping for and why they are doing what they are doing.

I also ask Israeli, Jewish, West Asian, Arab, and Muslim people how the current situation has been for them. I communicate that I am sorry that people are being killed and hurt and say that I think the situation is resolvable in a way that will work well for everyone.

A number of years ago I was part of an RC project in which I called a Co-Counselor in Palestine once a week and listened one-way. I remember how much of a difference it made to that person and to me. Since then, whenever there’s an increase in tension and violence in Israel and Palestine I ask people about it and listen a lot. I try to call all my friends and Co-Counselors. Some of my friends play significant roles in social movements working to create solutions. I listen to them think about how they can take care of themselves and to their stories of what the work has been like for them.

After I listen to people, I counsel on whatever feelings have come up for me. I am getting more able to listen to people’s oppressor and victim material* in a relaxed and unworried way. I am also becoming more pleased about the challenge of discharging my own oppressor and victim material and less impatient with myself that I still carry it.

Here are some questions I am discharging and thinking about:

  • What is the role of nationalism in liberation?
  • Can we (if so, how can we) separate the creation of nation states from violence and capitalism or other exploitive systems?
  • How do we create the conditions in which another world is possible—one where there is no exploitation or oppression of people, or destruction of the environment, and where there is support for continuous re-evaluation and revolution? 

Christine Selig
San Francisco, California, USA


* “Material” means distress.


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