RC at Its Best

I attended the RC World Conference this past August. It was full of good contradictions [to distress] and hopeful moments. It also illuminated places where we struggle. It was marvelous to see how much work so many people had done ahead of time to make it go well.

The RC process was at its best. Over two hundred people of different backgrounds were able to review, discuss, and agree on our Community Guidelines and goals in a very human way.

We spent an entire day discharging and thinking about the new Guideline for RC teachers on taking a stand against prostitution. Initially I thought I didn’t have any thinking about the issue. But after we spent time discharging, thinking, and listening in our support groups, I had quite a lot to say! At one point, seventy people signed up to speak on the issue. In the end about twelve of us, representing different constituencies, spoke to the entire conference.

One of the speakers shared that a teacher in her Region was prostituted and asked if that teacher would be prevented from teaching RC. An Indigenous leader spoke about how the Guidelines for teachers were becoming more and more like a page out of the Bible. She proposed that we replace the entire section on not participating in certain activities with a phrase saying that RC teachers should discharge on and work toward not participating in any exploitative activity. I talked about the connection of the sex industries and sexual exploitation to war and the military. I think that we can’t just add a Guideline for teachers only. We should think holistically about what we need to do to dismantle the oppressive industries. We need to examine where our money is invested. If it isn’t invested in the sex industries, it’s probably invested in the military.

Although most of this did not drastically change the Guideline, I saw human minds working together, from various perspectives, on a complex issue. It was hopeful because we spoke up and shared our minds. That was the most important outcome.

At the World Conference, English was still the predominant language. But the conference was interpreted into other languages because many of the participants had another language as their first language. I interpreted meetings and classes into Urdu.

Sometimes I find that my mind wanders during RC events. At the World Conference I realized that English has been the language of the oppressor. It reminds me of colonization, imperialism, war, and genocide. When I try to engage with it, I have to fight the oppression. I have a surface-level relationship to the language. Even though I’m speaking, or listening to, or making sense of the words, I don’t have a heartfelt connection with it. The classes I interpreted upfront have stayed with me a lot longer.

I interpreted Tim’s self-estimation. That was powerful for me because I could experience his humanness more fully. I was internalizing in my own language what he said. I have known and loved Tim for a long time, but the oppression can make white men look like the face of oppression or imperialism. Language liberation is an important step toward making the RC Community a non-U.S.-centered one.

In between meetings and work, we had fun! I’m looking forward to being part of the next conference. Insha’Allah! [“If God wills!” in Arabic]

Nazish Riaz

Bedford, Massachusetts, USA

Born and raised in Pakistan

(Present Time 190, January 2018)

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