Working on Violence

I am a white Protestant working-class USer, born and raised in the southern part of the United States. I am also the Area Reference Person for a small Community in North Carolina, USA. The following is my experience with working on violence at an Area workshop.

I chose the topic of violence because I believe that acts of violence will continue as capitalism continues to collapse. This summer we have witnessed many violent events. They can leave us feeling terrified and helpless. We need to discharge systematically on violence, so we can keep thinking and help others keep thinking.

First we focused on our relationships with one another. To discharge fears and other difficult things, we need good connection with each other. Then I asked people how capitalism and the recent violence have affected them. We did long three-way sessions and many mini-sessions.

After lunch we had a class on confronting violence. We started with long mini-sessions on the genocide of Indigenous peoples and the enslavement of African people. The United States was built on genocide and slavery. Violence has been part of the culture of the United States since its very beginnings.

A second long mini-session focused on how African-heritage men are being targeted with massive violence and how this, too, has been part of U.S. society since its beginning.

I shared that all oppressions are enforced with violence or the threat of violence. Sometimes there are acts of violence that are clear and easy to identify. Sometimes there are threats of violence that are more implicit—a harsh tone of voice, a stern grab on the shoulder, and so on. I counseled two people in front of the group and asked them, “Where was the violence in your life?” Then we had three-way sessions in which everyone had twenty minutes to discharge.

Afterward we played together during a break and then had a short class on hope. I talked about developing hopeful perspectives and discharging on early discouragements, so we can remain hopeful. Hope is a revolutionary stance that helps other people fight discouragement too.

I asked people to think about people and things in their lives that bring them joy. We need good places to put our attention when we are not in a session. It is good practice to notice and remember things around us that are hopeful and human.

Rachel Winters

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

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