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What to Think About as We Set Up Our Lives

During open questions at the International Young People’s Workshop in January 2014, I asked Tim1 if he would share his thoughts about what makes sense for us to think about as we set up our lives, in general and in terms of our role in RC. I recorded what he said and summarized it below. Following that is some of my own thinking.

THE RC COMMUNITY

Re-evaluation Counseling is the only thing that lets us make our minds better in a particular way. Every Co-Counseling session makes us more effective and more efficient. Almost everything in our life goes faster and farther and more smoothly when we keep discharging.

When we’ve done a bunch of RC, we build up some slack so that we can coast for a while without sessions. Things seem to stay pretty2 good. But enough distress gets restimulated all the time that things start to head downhill and get tighter and tighter. We need to discharge to keep moving forward.

Discharging by ourselves can work, but it doesn’t sustain us long-term. We need the resource of an RC Community, which we can get by building RC relationships and being involved with the Community. Each of us gets to think about how much time and energy it makes sense for us to spend on this. However, we do need to do enough work that the Community builds steadily and is able to hold a clear perspective that contradicts our early defeats. Also, it can be confusing to come in and use the resource without being a part of building it.

When we think about how to spend our time, it’s useful to remember that our sense of time is corrupted by capitalism. We’re supposed to be busier and busier all the time. As beneficial as all the smart phones and other devices are, their real purpose is to make it possible for us to work anytime, anywhere, and be advertised to no matter where we are (making us consumers twenty-four hours a day). It’s interesting to get away from all that and see how long it takes our mind to slow down and think about things from different angles.

As we build our lives we need to be involved in the RC Community, or capitalism can make us lose our perspective. We need that connection and to be working at building humanness, as we understand how to do that in RC, or it gets too confusing out there. Even though we may be doing good work in the wide world, we need a safe place to develop what we in RC know how to develop. That means being in a class, occasionally teaching a class, and in general taking initiative to make things happen. We don’t have to do this continuously, but we can’t step away for too long without getting confused and feeling separated. The nice thing about teaching RC is that we’re taking initiative to make some relationships happen, which is where we are the weakest. It’s useful to have RC leadership prompting us to take on3 relationship building.

CHOOSING A JOB

In looking for a job, we need to be hunting for good choices. But society doesn’t offer good choices. It would be against the interests of an oppressive society to offer us good choices, because the society is built on the exploitation of people. A lot of people try working for nonprofit NGOs4 or other groups that do good things in the world. It’s fine to do this, as long as we understand that it won’t change the world in the big ways we want to see it change. These groups do good and important things to make life more tolerable and less oppressive. However, if that is all we do, it won’t stop oppression, and we’ll be left with the same basic difficulties.

Another way people try to find a good choice in the midst of societal oppression is to do nice little things away from everybody. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t go anywhere, and eventually we’ve got to go somewhere. We can’t keep stringing this society along5 forever. We have to face the fact that we’re in the midst of an oppressive society and that there isn’t a job that doesn’t have oppression as part of it. Then we need to make the best choice we can—pick a job in which we don’t play a directly oppressive role or don’t do useless things. Ultimately we have to choose the best thing we can figure out without having it define us, our life, or our thoughts.

We have to think about things in a bigger context. The perspective is, “Yes, we are doing this—until the revolution.” Until we can figure out a better solution, we do need something to do. We need to fill our time. We need something that gives us a basis for building broader and broader relationships. We need something that will support our life. Those are all legitimate things to look for as we look for a job and set up our life. We can do work that has good aspects while remembering that it is on the way to somewhere else. That’s the important thing—that the solution is somewhere else and that we have to go there. Hopefully we can find a job that we enjoy, that gives enough stability that we aren’t too worried and distracted about our security, and that puts us in contact with lots of people.

NOT LIMITED BY CLASS

Some of us will be working class, some middle class, and some owning class. It doesn’t matter that much which class we are in. We do have to face the fact that we don’t need an owning class. There was once a purpose to it—it let things progress—but we don’t need to exploit people anymore. We also don’t need a middle class anymore. Its job is to manage the oppression. We don’t need that to happen. We still need people to produce things. We still need a working class. It’s true that “the working class is the only class with a future.”

We were born in these classes, and that’s okay. We have certain distresses because of it, but it’s really all right whatever class we are in. We just can’t let our class define the way we think. We can’t let class be a limitation.

Different positions give us different capabilities. That’s okay. Being in any class is fine if we still have our own minds. For example, there are advantages to being owning class: a lot of money and a lot of power. Part of being owning class is that you’re taught to use your money and power to perpetuate the system, but you don’t have to do that. If you have a lot of stock in General Motors,6 you can use it to raise hell.7 You can use the position to do what we all want to do. It’s all right to have a lot of power if you keep thinking about how you use it. You can do good things from that position. It would be wonderful if we had many, many owning-class allies. It wouldn’t hurt us at all—if they could think. We need people everywhere in society who can think, who can play a role in changing things.

We don’t have to feel bad about our class, and we don’t have to be defined by it. Most of the successful revolutionaries of the past were individuals who overcame the conditioning of their class to identify with the working class and play a good role. We can discharge the distress patterns from the oppressions that hit us and play a good, important role—and we know how to do that; we can work in those directions.

MY THINKING

Here is some of my thinking based on what Tim talked about:

Leading in RC and building the RC Community will move us most effectively toward re-emergence. It will push us against the early discouragement that keeps us stuck. Choosing to be a part of building the Community is like saying, “I’m going to work to make things better for me and for everyone, in ways that feel impossible.” Structuring our lives and goals around a decision so solidly in contradiction to early discouragement and hopelessness gives us a clear and powerful perspective. As we throw ourselves into a fight that challenges the conclusions of our early defeats, we will discharge the material8 that keeps us small and tight, material that we might not otherwise look at. Building the RC Community will make it impossible for us to use discharge only for the day-to-day feelings that come up.

It matters that we keep fighting for our minds to be more and more free of distress and for our lives to be as big as we want them to be. We know that’s where we want to head, and now we get to decide to do it—against the messages of young people’s oppression. We have the power to point our lives in that direction. Making the building of the RC Community fully our own project may be the best way to do it right now.

As I try to decide what kind of job I want, where I want to live, what I want my relationships to look like, one thing is clear to me: if I can stay connected to the people I’m close to in RC and keep discharging, my judgment will be clearer as I make these decisions.

When I contrast the people I know who don’t ever get to discharge with the people who take RC and their own re-emergence seriously, it is clear that discharge makes people’s lives much better. I can also tell9 that my own thinking is best after a lot of discharge. And in those moments, it is clear to me that having RC be a big part of my life is one of the biggest factors in my life going well.

I liked what Tim said about how staying connected to the RC Communities gives us connection and a chance to work on building humanness. The idea of building humanness sounds strange because it is so different from the way we usually talk in the wide world, but there’s something about it that I like a lot; it feels like what I want my life to be about as much as possible.

I’ve decided that one of my priorities is to work hard to stay connected to my friends from high school and elementary school whom I still have contact with. I’ve also made it a goal to reach out to some old friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time, no matter what they are able to do back in my direction. The messages I get from men’s oppression, young people’s oppression, and probably other oppressions are that my relationships with my old friends are unimportant, that I should be focused on setting up a new life. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to hold on to my perspective in this spot. I don’t think I’d be confident enough to see these relationships as one of the parts of my life that matters most if I wasn’t part of building and valuing humanness in the way that we know how to do in RC.

The following are some of the things I’m hoping for as I think about what I want my life to look like:

I want to live as close as I can to my family, my RC Community, and my friends that I grew up with. I want to find a job that allows me to keep RC as a central part of my life. I’d like to be able to have a lot of sessions, enough that I can tell that I’m consistently moving forward in my re-emergence. I want to keep being a part of the RC groups I’m already involved with (my class, young people’s groups, family-work groups). I want to have time in my life to take on building my local RC Community and see how much is possible with that. I hope to lead in RC and have opportunities to help people I care about move forward in big ways toward their re-emergence. When I’ve gotten chances to do that in the past, it’s been some of the most exhilarating work I’ve ever done.

In terms of finding an ideal job, I hope to find something close by that isn’t doing something directly oppressive, that doesn’t take too much of my time, and that pays enough that I’m not constantly distracted by worries about my security. I want it to let me be in contact with other people, so that I’m not isolated all day, and involve work that I can appreciate or get something out of. I’d like it to give me opportunities to recruit people to RC.

So far, I’m thinking that rather than choosing a paid job in which I can work to end oppression and fix problems in the world, it may make more sense for me to find a job that gives me time and space to throw myself into RC work or be involved with other organizations that are trying to end oppression.

If any of you want to share any thoughts about these ideas, or about how you’re thinking about setting things up in your life, it would be great for all of us to hear them. I’m excited about thinking about these issues with all of you!

Jamie Irwin
Wilmington, Delaware, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of young people


1 Tim Jackins, who was leading the workshop
2 “Pretty” means quite.
3 “Take on” means undertake.
4 Non-governmental organizations
5 “Stringing this society along” means prolonging our relationship with this society.
6 A large multi-national corporation that produces automobiles and trucks
7 “Raise hell” means resist the power structure and change things.
8 “Material” means distress.
9 “Tell” means see, notice.


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00