Tim Jackins and others at a leaders’ workshop in Warwick, New York, USA, December 2015

Question: Please talk about responding to online attacks on RC, especially when they’re brought to our attention by activists. We need to help upcoming leaders discharge, so they can respond to these attacks.

Tim: How we handle an attack varies tremendously depending on the conditions in which it happens. On the Internet people can say anything, and it’s not hard to write a restimulating e-mail.

For many attacks, the best solution is to ignore them. However, we do need to pay enough attention to them to understand them and to work on what gets restimulated in us by attacks in general. All of us need to do that, because we are so scared and vulnerable in these places.

A number of topics can be used to attack anybody. An attack doesn’t have to have any real substance at all. Even if it doesn’t, it still restimulates. So the first thing in handling an attack is to do a lot of discharging yourself. The second thing is to counsel the other restimulated people, if they are within reach. If someone has read the attacking material and gotten caught up in it, then counsel that person on it.

It always helps the people in a Community or class to hear some thinking about attacks before they happen and to work on how vulnerable they are to being restimulated by attacks of any sort. We can explain that RC has always been attacked, from its first days on, and that the content of each attack has been based on what is most restimulating in the society at the time.

It is quite possible that I will be attacked, accused of abusing children. There are lots of good videotapes of RC family workshops, some of which include pitched “battles.” Someone would just have to take a few select screens of these, and there we go.

You need to work on your feelings about being attacked. You need to work on all the things you already feel bad and guilty about, because they are where you are most vulnerable. It is much harder to take a rational position if you are feeling guilty. And the attacks that scare you are often those that come from people you want to have like you. That’s another place where most of us are especially vulnerable.

You may well have made a mistake, but an attack has nothing to do with you. It always has to do with restimulations that get hung on you for some reason, and the reasons can be really small.

Sometimes an attack is for the purpose of restimulating people about you. This is what we in RC have officially defined as an attack. Someone is purposely trying to restimulate people to be against you, to identify you as the source of evil. (There is an assumption behind most attacks that there is evil—conscious evil.) In this case, we need to be forceful and direct. If those attacking are in RC, we must require that they take a reasonable position if they want to stay in the RC Community. We don’t treat each other that way.

We do make mistakes. We need to look at our mistakes. But we don’t attack each other for our mistakes. That never works to solve difficulties.

When people get restimulated by attacks, they often wonder, “Have I been duped [deceived]? Am I mistaken? Has this evil been hidden from me?” All those doubts can come up. If we haven’t worked on our own similar kinds of doubts, it gets very confusing.

When you are handling an attack on RC—for example, if I get attacked—what do you say? Essentially what you have to say is, “No, I know that situation. I know that person. I’ve seen that person take correct positions, fight for good and correct things, for decades. No. No.” People who know you can follow your judgment until they get a chance to discharge enough. That means that you have to unabashedly put your foot down and say, “I stand here,” even though you get scared.

You have to be ready to stand up for Co-Counseling and for the people who developed it. It’s not that any of us have ever been perfect. But you know the intent we have had and the work we have done. What you can tell the people you know is essentially, “You know me. You know what I am like. You know what I care about. You know how hard I try. Do you think I’m so confused or stupid that I would be fooled by something and simply go along with it? Do you want to know what I think?” Then you can lay out a full perspective, the best perspective you have on this project that you have worked so hard to move forward.

People can be restimulated by the smallest bit of text, and they can best (and sometimes only) be reassured by another mind that they can trust. They can see the reality of your thought, your intelligence, and your commitment, and they are willing to take a chance with you. They don’t need proof exactly. They need the reassurance of another thinking mind having chosen this direction. I think that’s what people find most reassuring.

You know us. You know everybody here. Whatever mistakes we make, we continuously try to do the work to correct them. The requirement can’t be that nobody can make a mistake without being seen as evil. Nothing can work on that basis. We have to challenge that. It’s like the way we treat leadership. We try to figure out how to help people who are struggling to lead, help them discharge the distresses that interfere with their thinking. We don’t attack them.

You do need to talk about the fact that we have been attacked, and will be attacked. The attacks on my father are pretty old and stale at this point—the guy has been dead for sixteen years—but people can still be restimulated by them.

You can sense when people are hunting for a place to hang an old upset so they can counsel on it. This is what I would call a naive attack. People have an upset they can’t get out of their mind, and they hang it on somebody in the hope that she or he will be their counselor and listen to how upset it makes them. This is different from the less naive attack in which someone is trying to manipulate other people into opposition.

Someone in the group: About twenty years ago you put out a DVD about attacks that was really good. I watched it many times. It was called Supporting Leaders and Handling Attacks [DVD No. 219].

Tim: I’ve been talking about this for twenty years. Yeah.

Diane Balser: Some of you are activists online. I think it’s important for you to get information out about attacks. Discussions online can be vicious, and people can’t have intelligent discussions under those conditions. If you have a minority point of view, you often get creamed [strongly attacked]. It would be good to put out what we know about attacks and handling them. The political discussion online could be so much better if it wasn’t vicious. I think we can be confident about something we know. We can explicitly say that the goal is to have intelligent political discussion, including an opportunity to disagree, and to not personalize everything. We need not mention RC.

Tim: There are two things I would add. First, don’t try to handle an attack alone; don’t pull back from people because you feel bad. Second, if you know someone is being attacked, don’t leave him or her to handle it alone. Move. Step in front of that person and say to the attacker, “No, you don’t get to do this. I know better than this.” Somebody has to take a correct line. There may be mistakes involved, and that’s fine. They don’t justify an attack. We have to get clear about this.

Gwen Brown: I’ve been doing something that helps people think about attacks before they get restimulated by them. Not in the RC introductory class but in the first class for those who come back, I tell people about the RC website and say, “If you look at other references to RC, you may find confusion and attacks. Remember that one of our goals is eliminating racism. Do you know of any organization dedicated to eliminating racism that doesn’t get attacked and have irrational things said about it? Saving the environment means changing the economic system. Do you know of any place where people advocate that without a lot of people reacting? There are all kinds of people out there who have all kinds of feelings about our progressive goals, and they will try to undermine our efforts. That’s what you will find on these other sites. However, if you go to our website, you will see what we think. If you have questions, come to me. Maybe I can help you think through the confusions.”

Tim: One more thing. I have on occasion taken a slightly defiant position in talking about attacks: “If it’s too scary for you, I am sorry. We will miss you.”

Barbara Love: I sometimes say, “I have found this theory and tool to be useful. I invite you to try it. If it’s useful, use it. If you try it and it’s not useful, don’t use it.”

Tim Jackins

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00