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How Do We Change the World?

From a talk by Tim Jackins at the World Conference 
of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities, August 2017

We spent yesterday doing some work on ourselves. Now we get to shift to a larger arena. Re-evaluation Counseling has large intentions. 

We start with our minds. We work to remove the distress recordings that have made it difficult for us to see the world clearly and interact rationally. We want every mind free of the impediment of old distress. 

As we did this work in the early years, it became clear that simply working with individual minds was not going to do the job, because the major source of distress for everyone was the society. We’ve been able to say this clearly in enumerating the oppressions we encounter: the sexism, racism, oppression of young people, and on and on. They hit everyone, because they come from the society. They also support economic exploitation. So if our goal is to free every mind, it doesn’t work to simply go mind to mind to mind. We have to stop the source of the distress.


Our collected distresses from oppression have become part of our societies, have become frozen in our institutions, and are thoughtlessly acted out across the world. So if we want to save minds, we have to change the world! 

That’s not the only interesting thing to do (I hope you find many other interesting things), but it is one that is both interesting and necessary. 

For people to have the full chance to use their minds and do interesting things, societies will have to change in massive ways. As we understand this more clearly and broadly, more of us are trying more things in more places. We’re still uncertain, hesitant, and timid a large part of the time, but we’re also making gains against those distresses.

The development of RC has coincided with the acceleration of the collapse of society. It’s an interesting race! How much can we get done and how quickly? How fast will the collapse happen? How gigantic will the effect be? The newest factor is the collapse of the environment. The environment is approaching a state in which it cannot sustain itself even if our irrationalities stop attacking it. This is an interesting and useful challenge. It gives us a reason to begin pointing things toward rationality.

An unfortunate fact is that most of us don’t move until there’s a crisis. Our feelings of being small and helpless immobilize us, even when we know it would be better if things happened. So we get to decide to take rational steps, no matter how uncomfortable and scary they may be. 

One of my hopes is that we can both discharge and get a better perspective on our early childhood distresses, and face things that feel unbearable to the point where we can choose to do difficult things before we are forced to.

We need to change society. How the hell do we do that? I mean, really, how do we do that? We say the words “change society.” What is our first step? Second step? We can’t think about it. We know that it’s necessary—but that’s where we often stop. Our timidities and fears and feelings that we can’t think about it hold us back. 

We’ve used RC well. We’ve gone into other organizations and used our knowledge to help them function better. That’s important; it’s made big differences. I’m not sure it’s sufficient. I’m not sure that implementing old tactics more effectively is going to be enough.


I think big changes will have to happen before society as a whole changes. I think we’ll have to force an irrational society to twist itself in ways that it doesn’t want to. In particular, we will have to interrupt much of the ongoing damage to the environment. What will it take [require] to do that? At least there aren’t many climate change deniers anymore. That’s a hard position to hold now. Mostly they just go quiet or argue for delay, essentially saying, “Let me make a little more money first!”

We know why there are bad policies. We know where they come from. We know how minds get stuck in them. Now it’s time to use that knowledge to step into action in a new way. 

What will it take to change the policies of an irrational system? I think it will take massive numbers of people. It will also take some rational policies. It doesn’t work to harness disagreement and fear. We need policies that are clearly in everyone’s interest and that point the way forward in a way that people can recognize. We know that, and we know how not to set one group against the other. 

We can develop clear, rational policies—for our families, for small groups, and for every level up to and including the world. I think good enough policies can prevent the environment from crashing before we are able to change society. 

I think we should do a mini-session on coming up with [thinking of] such a policy. Look at any feelings of impossibility. What are they like? That’s the work we need to do. 

We can first figure out a policy for ourselves as individuals. That’s the simplest situation we handle. Then we can develop group policies, for handling not just our own distresses but each other’s as well.


We need agreed-upon policies, and they are a little more difficult to achieve. We get frozen in the ways we’ve been hurt. When we’re handling important issues, we get scared. It feels desperately important that a policy be exactly the way our distresses want it to be. And since we all live unique lives, we all have unique distresses. It doesn’t take many people to get an unworkable situation. So groups often stay together only a certain length of time before they splinter because of their differences. Or they try to function without any policy.

How can we have a policy when we can’t reach precise agreement about it? We will face this issue, repeatedly, for the rest of our lives. It’s worth thinking about now, instead of just resigning ourselves to it. 

We can’t have it by requiring precise agreement on everything. But in most groups there’s a set of issues that everyone considers important—perhaps a central core that, with some listening, people can reach agreement on. But what about all the other issues people feel are just as important? We usually can’t resolve those. 

So what do we do? I think moving forward depends on our commitment to each other and on our ability to pursue common goals while recognizing that we disagree on side issues. It depends on being willing to acknowledge the importance of an issue that’s important to someone else and being committed to working toward a resolution later; not being stopped by the lack of agreement now. 

There are always issues that people can move forward on together. However, this is not widely understood. It is not understandable without everything we know in RC. We get to be the example of what is possible. This means doing work we don’t feel like doing. We do it because our joint effort and our relationships with the people we disagree with are important. 


Why are people opposed to us? Is it because they are stupid, selfish idiots? (laughter) There may be a patterned reality to that, but it’s not a very workable perspective and it’s in conflict with our picture of human beings. 

We know that the person occupying the most oppressive, destructive position is no different from any one of us, that only distresses put them in that position, and that it doesn’t have to be permanent. Can we work to change the oppressive society with this understanding always in evidence? Can we confront the people who are occupying positions that make life hell for most people and never forget their humanness or allow our restimulations to change our tone toward them? Can we be forcefully and openly human and go after them [try to reach them]? 

Everything in reality changes, and is changing rapidly now. Knowing what we know, can we think afresh and develop new ways to move forward?

Tim Jackins

(Present Time 189, October 2017)

* Tim Jackins is the International Reference Person for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities.  

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