Bringing Men into RC

From a talk by Tim Jackins at a men’s workshop in the Midwest United States, April 2010

The first RC fundamentals class had about thirty people in it. There were two young people: my older brother and I. It was taught with a large chalkboard at the front and my father in a blue suit and tie drawing diagrams fromThe Human Side of Human Beings on the board. He and Mary McCabe, one of the early co-workers in developing RC, were both there. It was the first time they had tried to systematically communicate RC to a large group of people. And there was an Elementary Manual that my brother and I mimeographed on one of those old mimeograph machines. The no-socializing policy1 was on blue paper, different from all the other pages so that it stood out.

People had a hard time learning. It was slow. They had Co-Counseling sessions. Things did move. Some people could discharge a little. But an overall perspective was not yet developed. (It was 1958.) Still, my father and his associates had made the decision that if they could do it, anybody could. They had to figure out how to get other people able to do it, so they went ahead. People stayed around a while, and things worked, but without the overall perspective, without all the things we now take for granted in RC, everybody leaned very heavily on the people who were teaching the class. The teachers learned a lot, and the classes got better and better. We are here now because of it. It was a big piece of work to take on.2

Now the question is—looking at what happens to men, and knowing that men can get here (because we did)—how can we make it more possible for guys? What is it we can do? I think the first thing is to recognize that it’s a big battle, and it’s not because of some small mistake or misunderstanding on our part that things are that way. Certain aspects of our societies make life hard on men in particular ways that make it difficult for them to open up, to allow themselves to feel openly. So many guys cannot feel. It seems dangerous to feel anything. Their whole lives are spent trying not to—by working hard enough, or drinking hard enough after the job, or taking enough sedatives or sleeping pills, or being busy enough. To feel is not going to seem safe. It just isn’t.

I think it would be useful, for each of us guys and probably for everyone in RC, to go after3 a guy, not with the intent of getting him into Co-Counseling or taking care of him, but with the intent of improving his life using what we know in Co-Counseling. The goal would be to figure out how to do that, rather than to get him here. In general, men are not here because we don’t yet know how to help them well enough. We get scared when things get too heavy.

I’ve tried to take on4 men who gave up at every place I made myself go forward. The places where I pushed myself or was hard on myself so that I didn’t stay stuck, where I drove myself forward, they gave up. It feels miserable to see one’s distress material, in its worst form, on someone else. I didn’t get stopped by it, but it hasn’t been fully human. It’s been rigid. One guy I know has been asked on job applications, “How good are you at doing this?” and he has said, “I’m lousy. I can’t do that at all.” Every past defeat is written down as the way he must be forever, as if there is no possible way out of it. This helps my sessions, because I have to look at it, and I can’t be satisfied with how I survived it. I actually have to discharge and heal. I have to fully win those battles so that I can help him win. He can’t simply do it the way I did it. It has to be more alive and human than that. I will learn a lot in this struggle, and he will get to develop a bigger life out of it. But just for me, I will learn a lot by daring to fully discharge these distresses.

I suspect that we all have to do some of this work—not with the intent of getting somebody into Co-Counseling. I think that misleads us a little, and lets us give up on the person. We bring people into Co-Counseling, and when it gets too difficult and they walk away, we say, “Oh well.” At some point we need to be able to go after people, guys in particular, and not give up on them even when they walk away. We actually have to not just watch them walk away. This means that we may have to stand in opposition to their heavy material5 and argue with it. As near as they likely will be able to tell,6 we will be arguing with them. I’ve yelled back at guys when their distresses made them want to run. We’ve sat there and yelled at each other, and then, after that, things could go on again. But without that fight—without the yelling and their showing how terrifying it was to open up anything, and me standing my ground against their fears—it couldn’t have happened.

I think we can reach anybody we are willing to fight for. We are fighting against their material because they can’t do it, yet. For a while they don’t know that it’s possible, but if they see us fight against their material long enough, it begins to appear possible. They get the idea that maybe they can fight against it, too, and then things can change. I think that long-range that’s the solution.

Short-range we have to show more of ourselves, we have to be more human, more alive. We have to show that we care about people. We have to bring with us pictures of the people we love and show them to other guys. We have to do all of the things we get really uneasy about doing. We have to be more human out in the open. It may make certain guys want to run away, and it will make a lot of guys uneasy. And a certain large set of guys will think, “Oh, I didn’t think that anybody cared as much as I did,” and they will take it as reassurance, and it will make certain things possible for them, including listening to us.

We understand what the struggles are, and we know how to change things in good directions. But what demonstrates most clearly the things we know is us. If we want another man to understand RC on the basis of being a man, rather than by being helped by a woman whom he has reactively hunted for all his life to help him, then it has to be us. It has to be us being human and warm and yet able to stand there against his harsh distress. I suspect that’s our path.

Question: You said you yelled back. What did that do? What were you doing there? Was it a contradiction?7

Tim: It worked. As near as I could read the situation, the guy was feeling terrified and trying to get away into numb isolation, and I would not let him do that. I stood in opposition to that distress and yelled back and said, “You can do this. We have an agreement. I’m going to hold you to that agreement.” It was about twenty minutes of yelling.

Why should men get into RC? Because they get to be like you. That’s the main reason: because they get to be like you. They get to have a larger life, like you. They get to think bigger, they get to feel more alive. They get to be more of the way they want to be. They get to be like you. You’re the reason they should be in RC. But if you are hiding yourself, how are they going to figure that out? You’re bringing them medicine instead of showing them what’s possible, and not everyone likes someone who brings them medicine. They know it’s going to taste bad, and they’re not sure it’s going to work. You are the proof of why they should be here, and if you hide that fact and try to convince them to get here on some other basis, you’re not going to be effective, and in some way you are misleading them. You really are the reason they should be here. You are exactly the reason. And if they knew that they could have the liberation you have already accomplished, they would love to be here, and they would be willing to face big battles.

It’s the same with our leadership on larger issues. We are too quiet. We are still afraid. We are still feeling the effects of our thinking having been shushed,8 of not being supported, of teachers shouting us down and oppressive forces making us be quiet. Nobody is making us be quiet now. We do it to ourselves. An oppressive society cannot hire enough guards to have one at every door. We have to do it to ourselves. We have to be hurt enough that we shush ourselves. This is part of the struggle. We have to decide that our thoughts are worth considering. If we can show ourselves and our thinking more and more openly, we won’t have such a struggle with men coming into RC. And people will ask us what we do, and we will have a chance to play a leading role.

Society is going to fall down. Everything is probably going to fall down in our lifetimes. That wasn’t so clear before. It’s pretty9 clear now. To guide that big change so that it isn’t too destructive is going to take people who can think, like you.

1 The no-socializing policy of the RC Communities states that Co-Counselors should not set up any relationships, other than Co-Counseling, with other Co-Counselors or with people whom they first meet in a Co-Counseling context.
2 I this context, take on means undertake.
3 Go after means pursue.
4 In this context, take on means help.
5 Material means distress.
6 In this context, tell means perceive.
7 Contradiction to distress
8 Shushed means hushed, quieted, suppressed.
9 Pretty means quite.

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