DRAFT LIBERATION POLICY FOR PEOPLE RAISED POOR
What Is the Draft Liberation Policy Statement for People Raised Poor?
This Re-Evaluation Counseling Draft Liberation Policy Statement represents raised-poor Co-Counselors’ best thinking to date about poverty and class oppression. It not only reflects our best thinking about our own oppression, internalized oppression and liberation, but it is also our best thinking about how class oppression affects people from other class backgrounds, and gives the steps they can take to reclaim their hearts and minds from class based distresses.
In Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC) we define “oppression” as the systematic mistreatment of one group of people by another group. We think of “liberation” as: 1) freeing the minds of the target group from internalized oppressive messages, 2) freeing the minds of the oppressor group from confused, uncaring, disrespectful, and hurtful messages, and 3) transformation of the institutions and practices of society so that all people are treated with full respect from birth on and can become all they are born to be. We raised poor leaders offer this statement toward that end—full liberation. It is not a binding policy and no one in RC need agree with it. Rather, it is a tool to promote discussion and discharge (release of emotional distresses through talking, laughing, crying, raging, shaking, and so on) of painful emotions so that individuals can reclaim their ability to think clearly, love fully, and act effectively. It can be used in sessions, classes, and workshops as a reminder of our worth, power to create change, and inherent connection to all human beings.
Who Are Raised Poor People?
We are brilliant, lovable, powerful, beautiful, and highly capable people who have always done our best to resist the oppressive messages that have landed on our great minds and tried to convince us otherwise. Although class oppression hurt and confused us in many ways, we who grew up at or near the bottom of the economic scale often held on to strengths that are not widely recognized or seen by the larger society. These strengths include great generosity; a feet on the ground type of intelligence; a creativity that shows itself not only in everyday life, but in poetry, music, art, and dance; a great love for our children and a willingness to help one another in raising them, a great sense of compassion for the oppressed; an ability to love and connect deeply, figure out ways to make things work with few resources, keep material goods in perspective, show our true feelings and be real, and clearly see, in a bottom up way, that things are not fine in our society and that injustices exist and need to be fixed. While we carry many distress recordings and reactive attitudes and behaviors, under these patterns our full humanness is completely intact. In spite of the many ways that our early experiences told us that we were “less than” and less deserving than others, we have always fought to have good lives and to help others have good lives.
Why Re-Evaluation Counseling?
Now, with RC, we have a powerful tool that we can use to start making our lives and the lives of others all they can be. RC can help us build the supportive listening relationships we need to move forward fully. With this help we can set goals, release painful emotions, and give up any unworkable attitudes and patterns of behavior we carry. We can move our minds beyond the limitations caused by the installation of class based distress recordings. We can attain the clarity of thought we must have to establish the personal and political policies we need to live more humanly.
Why Is Raised Poor Liberation for Everyone?
The existence of poverty in any city, suburb, rural area, or country hurts everyone. When major inequalities exist in the access to, control of, and distribution of resources in any society, everyone’s life is diminished. Not only does it leave us all sadder and more discouraged and alone, poverty threatens the future existence of human beings on our planet. It also threatens the existence of most other species. For future generations to flourish, poverty must be faced and eliminated.
To create societies in which the needs of all people are met, people from all class backgrounds need to discharge their class-based distresses. As we reclaim our full hearts and minds, we will be able to create unity of purpose, build alliances, and put into place the personal and political policies needed to enjoy our lives and create a world free of economic injustice, class oppression, and endangered species.
II. KEY TRUTHS WE SHOULD ALL REMEMBER ABOUT POVERTY AND CLASS OPPRESSION
Most of the World’s Children Grow Up Poor.
Most children today lack the food, housing, health care, and educational and material resources they need to flourish, and for many, even to live. Most are targeted with high levels of disrespect, violence, and heavy messages of inferiority, which they internalize and repeat to themselves throughout their lives, and, if they are left without help, are pulled to act out on one another and on their own children.
Class Oppression Operates to Transfer Wealth to the Top.
The vast majority of the people are paid less than the value of their work. By keeping the resulting profits for themselves, a small owning group can use the wealth produced by the workers to control the economic and political system. They can control access to jobs, housing, food, education, health care, and material goods. Historically, those with access to and control of the wealth have paid workers as little as they could get away with in order to keep as much of the value of the work as possible.
Violence and Threats of Violence Are Key Features of Class Oppression.
Human beings have not easily agreed to be exploited and dehumanized by class oppression. All manner of violence and human degradation has been used to terrify people and get them to submit to the harsh conditions they were told to accept. The cost of policing, war, and military build-up always drains money from education, housing, healthcare, and other services so badly needed to meet the needs of people living at the lower end of the economic scale.
Today, within most countries, overt daily violence is not necessary to control people. People are kept in fear of what might happen to them by threats of unworkable living conditions, homelessness, school failure, imprisonment, and labeling or institutionalization by the “mental health” system if they do not agree to participate in the systems as they are. The violence in poor families and neighborhoods results from generations of harsh consequences imposed upon people to make them submit and work for little or no pay.
Lies, Misinformation, Distortions, and Scare Tactics Are Key Features of Class Oppression.
Telling lies, playing upon existing fears, and installing new fears are key strategies used to confuse and influence people so there will be less resistance to the oppressive policies and practices that exploit the majority of the people, as well as the environment. In particular, people are given distorted or untrue information about people from their own and other identity groups.
Pitting People Against Each Other Is a Key Feature of Class Oppression.
Economic inequality is maintained by keeping the working class divided. Working class people have been pitted against each other by classism, sexism, racism, anti-Jewish oppression, anti-Gay oppression, ageism, religion, and more. Within each oppression area, some people are told that they are “less than” while others are told that they are “better than” and are given opportunities for more of the resources of the society. The oppressions are self-perpetuating once they are installed on people’s minds. They keep people confused about their worth and the worth of others and about the true source of economic problems. People whose overall economic interests are the same are thus separated from each other. The myth of the superiority of one group over another has been used to justify all manner of exploitation and harsh class dominance, including slavery, colonialism, and genocide. Once divided, people are less able to build the relationships and support they need to live well and organize for economic change. This age old “divide and rule” strategy undermines unity of action throughout the world today.
The middle class is a subsection of the working class that has been artificially separated from it. Middle-class people are conditioned to be upwardly mobile and regard their interests as different from the rest of the working class. They are encouraged to please the owning class and look and act like them. They are conditioned to take on middle-agent roles in order to be “successful” and have more access to the resources of the society.
The working class has been artificially separated from those at the bottom of the economic scale. Working-class people are told that poor people are the real reason for their economic problems. They are encouraged to align themselves with economic policies that transfer wealth to the owning class. They are manipulated to act in oppressive ways toward anyone with fewer resources. They are not given correct information about poor people, including the reality that most poor people are working poor.
Young people’s oppression and class oppression can be thought of as “root oppressions”. These oppressions hold all the other divisions and oppressions in place. The first human divisions were, most likely, between males and females and adults and children, with male dominance of women and children being the base upon which class societies developed. Class societies brought with them a wide array of institutionalized oppressions, most of which are installed on the minds of people when they are young. Once children are treated with the disrespect of adultism, and denied access to discharge, they are less able to resist other oppressive messages. Most young people are targeted with multiple oppressions.
Male domination and sexism kept women economically powerless. Historically, most people, both male and female, within any society were kept poor. However, within every economic class, males were afforded greater respect, and greater educational and economic advantages than the women of that class. Women’s work was assigned a lower value and, most often, went entirely unpaid. Even the wealthiest of women were kept economically powerless. They faced the possibility of poverty because they had no political power and family property and resources were, by law, handed down to their brothers or male cousins, rather than to them. Women’s efforts to create political and economic change were ridiculed and their voices were silenced with violence, threats of violence, and threats of even greater economic hardships. Along with this violence, overwork, lack of information and opportunity, sexual harassment and abuse, and divisions between women of different groups kept women from seeing their shared interests and joining to build the effective women’s organizations needed to create change. In the last period of time, women’s movements in many countries have led to changed policies and great political, educational, and economic progress. In spite of the great gains, however, women continue to be divided by class, race, and other oppressions and their voices in the political process continue to be mocked and minimized. Outside the home, they continue to be paid less for the same work as men, and, as always, their work as mothers continues to be undervalued and unpaid. Lack of opportunity and unjust work and childcare policies still leave far too many women in poverty and cause them to make difficult and sometimes degrading choices in order to feed and clothe themselves and their children. In spite of our progress, most of the poor people in the world are women and most of the women in the world are poor.
Jews have been targeted for blame and dehumanization. For thousands of years Jews have been scapegoated and targeted for violence and genocide when economic conditions deteriorated. The blaming of Jews served the purpose of diverting people’s upset from the ruling class whose policies caused the economic deterioration. This scapegoating and targeting of Jews continues to play a major role in confusing and dividing people today.
White racism was not always a part of human behavior. Harsh class societies existed long before racist attitudes were spread, but for many centuries leading up to and including the present, racism has been used as a key tool to put policies in place that keep most of the wealth in the hands of the wealthy. Contrary to widely held beliefs, white people make up a significant percentage of the poor people in the United States and in many other countries. However, due in large part to a long history of harsh exploitation of people of color by white people, the largest percentage of poor people in the world today are people of color. Racist attitudes developed and were spread primarily because they served the interests of those who wanted to exploit the labor and resources of people of color, throughout the world. Racist attitudes were used as a way to justify colonization, genocide, slavery, and other harsh low paying working conditions, always for the purpose of economic gain. Once in place, racism became a dependable way to divide people whose economic interests were the same: poor and working class people. It serves the interest of those at the top to convince working class white people that their chief economic problem has everything to do with people of color, rather than with oppressive laws and practices that operate to shift most of the wealth to the top small percent of people. While progress has been made, today white racism continues to be used as a way to confuse, scare, and divide the world’s people, so that policies can stay in place that leave most of the wealth in the hands of the few at the top. Most of the children and adults who are targeted by racism today, or who have inherited the legacy of this invalidating oppression, and the internalized oppression that results from generations of violence and exploitation, continue to receive vastly different food, housing, education, material, and health care opportunities than do white people.
All people who grow up poor, no matter what their race, ethnic or religious heritage, or nationality, face deprivation, harshness, humiliation, and all manner of unnecessary obstacles in their efforts to make their lives work, build the relationships they need, and believe in themselves. All those who grew up poor and working class need to recognize that their economic interests are the same, and move past race divisions to build good relationships and organize for effective action.
Perpetuating the myth of the superiority of one group over another and pitting them against one another makes it possible for most of the world’s wealth to be controlled by a small minority of the world’s people.
An important step in ending class oppression, economic inequality, and destruction of the environment is building strong peer relationships within and across all oppression groups.
Blaming Poor People Is a Key Feature of Class Oppression.
Blaming poor people for their situation and for the patterns of behavior they and their children develop as a result of the oppressive experiences they live through or, in many cases, do not live through, is a key feature of class oppression. Everyone needs to be clear on one important fact: Poverty does not exist because of any shortcomings of the individual human beings who live in poverty. Poverty does not exist because people are lazy, stupid, or in any other way inferior to others. Nor does it exist due to a shortage of resources. Poverty, and the human struggles it creates, results from oppressive economic and social policies and practices, the effects of which accumulate on people’s minds over generations. These policies are financed and put into place primarily by the small percentage of people at the top of the economic scale.
The daily living challenges faced by poor people make it extremely difficult for them to organize against their oppression. Poor children’s confidence in their intelligence and leadership ability is undermined in their schools and neighborhoods. Difficult living conditions force adults to keep so busy just surviving that they have little time to think about and organize for societal change. Neither is there much encouragement for the economically privileged to try to eliminate economic oppression. Their attention is diverted to other things, particularly to figuring out how to keep up with or surpass others academically, materially, and socially. The few programs that are put into place to help poor people are constantly under attack. Poor people are blamed for taxes assessed on wealthy people, even though little of this money ends up in programs for poor people. Poverty serves the interests of those at the top. It scares working and middle class people and causes them to: 1) work harder to try to please those at the top, 2) turn against the poor, their natural allies, and 3) settle for low wages rather than take risks, like organizing and protesting, that could cause their family to fall into poverty.
Poverty Is Not a Natural State.
Poverty is not a natural state for anyone, anywhere. It is the result of oppressive policies. These policies exist because of human distress recordings. No human being would devise or settle for policies that leave people in poverty had they not been emotionally hurt and defeated as children. We all begin life with caring hearts. Until we are hurt we want things to go well for everyone. Blaming our human nature is incorrect. The problem is the larger system, which can be changed.
Societies Do Change and Our Future Can Be Guided Toward Greater Equality and Humanness.
The current state of the world and our harsh history make it difficult to believe we could create a better world. However, humans have always tried to change things to reflect our good inherent nature. We have actually had thousands of years of successes. Even without systematic access to the discharge process, large numbers of people have spoken up, organized others, and shifted societies toward more human policies. People of all class backgrounds have heroically struggled and won the many victories and gains we enjoy today.
Historically societies evolved from tribal societies, to slave societies, to serf/lord societies, to capitalism, which gave rise to the middle class but left most people poor. Next, in an attempt to meet the needs of all people, socialist and communist systems were tried in some countries. Some of these experiments failed and some have had limited success. The limitations of these systems have been due, in part, to un-discharged distress recordings of fear, individualism, greed, hopelessness, and dominance and submission. All along the way, without systematic access to the discharge process, people brought their distress-based patterns of behavior into their attempts to set things up well for everyone. As yet, no economic system, in any country, has met the real needs of its people. People remain fearful, discouraged, and divided, and unity of purpose and action remains an idea whose time has not yet come.
The “Profit Motive” Determines Decision-Making and Threatens Our World.
Today global capitalism dominates our planet. In order to supply greater and greater profits to those at the top of the economic scale, capitalism demands cheaper and cheaper labor and destroys more and more of the world’s resources. Although capitalism provided some advantages over previous systems, the internal contradictions of advanced capitalism make it completely unworkable and increasingly oppressive to people throughout the world. Not only has it left most of the world’s people in poverty, today it threatens humanity as a whole, thousands of other species, our air and water and, in fact, our entire planet. It is becoming increasingly clear to more and more people that an economic system based on making decisions primarily on the basis of profit for a few, rather than on a consideration for all of humanity and for our environment, must be changed.
We Want Change.
In RC we are opposed to human beings hurting other human beings and within that broad category of agreement we are, as an organization, necessarily opposed to oppression, and to any disrespectful and hurtful practices that have become institutionalized. We are opposed to anything that prevents people from being able to make a living wage, safely. We are opposed to anything that prevents children from getting their emotional, educational, material, and physical needs met. We are opposed to dividing people and telling some groups that they are better than other groups. We are opposed to making decisions based on profits for a few, over greater human dignity and a good life for all. We are opposed to a reliance on setting up prisons and mental health systems to house and treat those who have been mistreated, rather than focusing our efforts on getting it right for children from birth onward in the first place. We are opposed to anything that confuses people about reality and threatens to destroy the environment that humans and others species on our planet need to flourish. To the extent that global capitalism, or any economic system, contains these things, we want change.
Confusions and Fears about Feelings Interfere with Change.
Although we in RC have different ideas about how to change the world, we agree that ultimately the hurting of human beings by other humans must stop. We agree, too, that the use of the listening and discharge process can help us free ourselves from distress recordings that interfere with our minds’ ability to feel joy and think well about how to move toward a caring world. Unfortunately, our progress toward the more caring world we all want is much slower than we would like because most of the adults on our planet have learned to fear and avoid the discharge process.
Throughout human existence young ones have been hurt and defeated and disrespected when they tried to use their mind’s natural healing process to free themselves of painful emotions. Most of us were told to just get over it and “stop crying!” We have been humiliated, beaten, and sometimes labeled for trying to get help with the fear, sadness, discouragement, and other painful emotions we were left with. We have been left alone with our feelings and repeatedly given the incorrect message that “crying doesn’t help.” As a result, most of us have become afraid of our emotions, afraid to cry and shake or even laugh hard. Worst of all, confusion and fear about the discharge process has become institutionalized. Many within our educational and “mental health” systems perpetuate confusion about the reasons for people’s irrational behavior and about our human need to release distresses with a good listener.
People are increasingly encouraged to use food, alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, and other addictive substances and activities, to comfort themselves when life gets “too hard.” These substances and activities substitute for feeling and discharging painful emotions, and changing things that aren’t working. When we hit hard times, we are advised to take anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs so that we can “adjust” to the harsh realities of class-based and other oppressions. We are encouraged to distract ourselves with purchases, sporting events, video games and electronic devices, and any number of money-making ventures. Unfortunately, once we lose touch with our feelings, we also tend to lose touch with our goodness, intelligence, and power to create positive change.
Although widespread confusion about the discharge process has greatly impeded human progress, increasing numbers of people are learning that discharge does help. We RCers are taking a leading role in demonstrating that with the right listening help humans can recover their ability to feel hopeful, love fully, and think clearly.
III. THE COUNSELING WE NEED TO RECLAIM OUR GREAT MINDS AND HEARTS
We Need To Create The Conditions that Allow Us and Others to Reclaim Our Innate Ability and Eagerness to Discharge.
Now that we know that distress recordings are the primary cause of the thoughtlessness, greed, irrationality, discouragement, and hurtful behavior we see all around us, we have a better picture of what will be required to bring about the lasting change we want. We can now see that reclaiming full use of the discharge process must be central to our efforts to make things right for everyone-to ending class oppression and poverty. It has become clear that if we want things right we need to set things up so that everyone has access to the listening attention they need to recover from their emotional hurts. We need to prioritize our own re-emergence and build solid, diverse RC Communities in which people learn to counsel one another well and move toward success on every front.
The Key Distress Recordings For Which Many Raised Poor People Need Good Counseling Are:
doubts about our intelligence, leadership ability, and ability to make things work well; addictive pulls; staying quiet and not speaking up; difficulties with authority figures; pulls toward violence, struggles with beauty and order, money and time; feelings of anger, worry, urgency, exhaustion, mistrust, discouragement, broken-heartedness, and shame and humiliation; and compromised integrity. This list also applies to most working class people. Distresses from our current class status also must be faced and discharged.
The Key Distresses That We Raised Poor People Would Like Middle and Owning Class People To Work On Are:
not knowing that you are appreciated independent of your accomplishments and material possessions; pretense and perfectionism; guilt and blame of yourself and others; disrespectful and critical attitudes and behaviors; any confused notion that you and your people are better than others; pulls to compete and prove that you are better than others; greed and entitlement; pulls to get what you want at any cost including violence or threats of violence; talking too much and in other ways taking up more than your share of the attention in any situation; fear and discouragement; difficulties in paying attention to the struggles of raised poor people; and compromised integrity.
We All Need to Learn About And Discharge On Oppression and Liberation Issues.
Beyond our class-based distresses, we all need to set aside regular counseling time to discharge on racism, sexism, young people's oppression, anti-Jewish oppression, anti-Gay oppression, and the many other oppressions in our world, as well as on sex, religion, and care of the environment.
As Client And Counselor We Need to Take Responsibility For Seeing That Things Go Well.
Clients of all class backgrounds need to set goals, dare to hope and trust, take appropriate action no matter what our feelings tell us, and show and release all the feelings standing in our way of achieving the life and world we want. As counselors, we need to give our clients full respect, reach for caring connection, listen more than direct or intervene, and see the brilliant human being struggling to free him or herself from the distress. We get to enjoy our lives now, as we move toward change.
Thousands of Years of Our History Have Shown Us that Doing The Right Thing Is a Challenge for Us Humans.
In spite of our inherent goodness, our history is full of brutality and unthinkably oppressive behaviors and practices. To this day, painful emotions and class-based distress recordings confuse us and pull us to set up or settle for societies that do not, in reality, work well for anyone. Our distresses pull us to make so many irrational decisions. In particular, we tend to give up when the going gets tough and get harsh and self-centered when we feel most alone and when our fears about our own life surface.
In Spite of It All, We Have Every Reason for Hope.
Class oppression has been with us so long that we have come to believe that it will always be with us. We need to challenge that discouraged view. We humans finally have figured out how to free ourselves of painful emotions and confusions and we have every reason to believe that eventually our inherent goodness will prevail. When large numbers of us have access to our full humanness we will no longer simply adjust and settle for a world in which some children get their food, housing, health, educational, and material needs met, while others do not. Instead, we will eagerly join together to ensure that all people, for generations to come, get the respect, thoughtful attention, human connection, and the opportunities and resources they need to flourish. We will enjoy being a part of leadership teams that create a world that works for every child and adult, from every part of the planet.
We cannot know now exactly how we will create all the changes that are needed. But every time we have, or help someone else have, a good session, it is an act of liberation and leadership. Every time we stand up for what is right, it is an act of liberation and leadership. We cannot know all the steps that are needed to eliminate poverty. But we can discharge everything in the way of thinking about what is possible, opening our hearts, getting in touch with our human connection, reclaiming our integrity, and acting with the courage needed to make things right for our planet and everyone on it. With our minds free of the age-old shackles of class-based distresses, we can have the life and world we want. We can change the economic policies that have for so long disregarded the well-being of most of the human population in the service of a few, and that now show the same disregard for all the precious species living on our earth and in our seas. With so much ahead to be done, it is, as our first RC raised-poor leader, Harvey Jackins, once said, “Time to pull up our socks and go.”