Opposing Irrational Policies Together

From a talk by Tim Jackins at the workshop “Taking RC 
Actively into the World, and Climate Change,” October 2020

There have been times in human history when big changes were about to happen. But there’s never been a time like now, when so many people have been able to actually think about it. I think it makes sense to begin with where we are, so let me give you my impression of the position we find ourselves in. 


Human beings have figured out a great deal about physical reality. We know a lot about making physical phenomena happen. Learning all the things we’ve learned has let a large number of people exist. At the same time, we carry great irrationalities that have affected our existence tremendously, so the progress made possible by our learning has been limited. 

Humans can become irrational when hurt, so when we have formed societies, those societies have been oppressive. People have made many attempts to create societies that are not oppressive, but the irrationality caused by distress has limited the success of those attempts. We haven’t known why the attempts failed, so we have blamed each other—one group of us has been the “cause” of the failure. There have been good analyses of how oppressions reappear and corrupt the attempts at good societies, but the underlying mechanism of the distress recording hasn’t been understood. So there has been no effective way to keep it from happening over and over again.

We know something that hasn’t been known before. We have many battles to take on [undertake]—to interrupt oppression and irrational, destructive policies—but we know that simply winning a battle or an election is not going to be enough. We know that the battle is to reach each other’s minds and to help each other use what we know to discharge distress. 


Our job is to end the pull of irrationality on all minds, and we have to preserve the world long enough to do that. It’s similar to our battles against our own distresses. We have to decide to function in the present, make our decisions about reality, and not be pulled by our distresses from the past to do irrational things. Humans can do this. We can do this. We can do wonderful, intelligent things, even when the distress is telling us that we’re small and powerless and stupid. It’s wonderful that we can do this, and a lot of the progress we’ve made, as individuals and collectively, has been because of this ability. You are to be congratulated on all the things you’ve done in spite of the ways you’ve been hurt. 

The understanding RC has given us about distress patterns has made us powerful in this way. At the same time, we move in a more fully human fashion when we also get to discharge the hurts. It’s wonderful we can fight against our distresses and create progress for the world. It’s also important to get rid of the distress recordings entirely, so that one morning we wake up not having to fight the same battle in our head that we’ve always had to fight, so we end the confusion from the past and it no longer pulls on us.


There are two places that most need our attention. There are two sets of distresses we all seem to have that interfere with the things we need to take on [confront and do something about] in the present. 

One of these is the feeling of helplessness. Every one of us as a small child was put in a helpless position and kept there, so we all have a variety of helpless feelings—feelings that we don’t know enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not big enough. All those distresses are waiting to be restimulated. I think that oppressive societies continue to exist because of the helpless feelings we carry. 

The other thing that happens to us as children and that never gets discharged is that we are made to be alone. Over and over again, in working with people on their early childhoods, I’ve found that people reached a point when they turned away, when they gave up on having a real connection with others. There simply was not enough awareness around them and no chance to discharge distress. 

We have all built good lives from that unfortunate position, but to change society in a significant way, in a way that isn’t built on isolation and domination, I think we have to challenge our early patterns of isolation. We can’t develop a unified society being as isolated as we are from each other. The more we can move forward together, the clearer reality will be, and the faster we’ll be able to move.

Society should be about people being together and being connected. It doesn’t need to be about groups of people being at odds with each other. And to build a connected society, I think we have to challenge these universal recordings of isolation.


The problems caused by human irrationality are not new. They have existed for a long time. But the magnitude of the problems is new. Before they affected only a few parts of the world at a time. Now they are affecting the whole world. 

The two big examples are the climate crisis and COVID. Both could be handled well everywhere if we all could think clearly. (Some parts of the world have been able to slow the spread of the virus significantly. Other places have been too affected by oppressions and patterns of greed to take effective actions.) They would still be significant problems, but if distresses weren’t interfering with our thinking, there would be good solutions.

We have the tools to do something with our distresses. If everyone had these tools, all minds could change and mistaken policies could be corrected. Unfortunately, the development of our ideas has come a little late. Not enough people will be able to change their minds, in the way we have shown is possible, for our societies to change quickly enough. The damage to humans and the climate is happening so quickly that we cannot wait for rationality to permeate all our species. 

We have to do more than simply work on clearing our minds, even if we’re doing that work collectively. We think better every day, if we remember to get a Co-Counseling session. The more we can make the discharge process work, the better we think. And we have to handle reality at the same time.


Big changes up until now have taken very large groups of people. Small groups of people have seized power, but that hasn’t worked very well. What we want is for all minds to be thinking about how society works. We don’t want to replace a small group of irrational people with another small group of people.

Small groups can’t work well for very long under present conditions. That means that we can’t do this alone, which implies that we can’t sit with distresses of isolation any longer. We have to join with other people, not just in a political sense but also by building connections among all people. We have to not only work toward agreement on policies but also work for connection and caring. 


People’s lives matter to you. I know that. I know that they matter deeply to you. Who else knows that? Who else knows how much you care about other lives? It doesn’t always show clearly on us. 

Most people, probably you included, can’t remember that anyone cares about their lives. Most don’t know that anyone notices them or respects their struggle. Almost all the people we are trying to reach have given up on anyone reaching for them.

We have been taught to look calloused, to not show how much we care, to appear tough. The patterns that formed in our childhood, with few people being able to show caring, have us looking like we don’t care. Only by stepping away from others did it seem like we could survive the harshness and the lack of caring. And now our patterns give others a false impression of how we think about them. 

I’ve had a growing impression that the lack of close connections and the oppressive aspects of our society push people in a certain direction—push them toward wanting to be in dominating positions, because they hope to feel less vulnerable, less in danger, in those positions.

If I can’t feel a connection to you, and can’t trust you, what relationship is going to feel safest to me? I certainly won’t want you more powerful than I am. This is about not feeling scared. 

We see “powerful” people desperate to dominate. And we see ourselves trying to have the last word—needing to make sure that we’ve gotten to say the last important piece. These two things are quite different, but they seem to come out of the same kind of distress, and neither one is about connecting the way we know people can. Neither one—the powerful domination or having the last word—encourages a connection between people.


If we want to affect the world, we can’t stay separate, obeying our feelings of isolation. We need to reach people; we need to reach individual minds to affect those minds. And we need to join with others in public opposition to irrational policies. We can’t reach, directly, enough of the individual minds that make these policies, so there will need to be large public opposition to irrational policies. We need to be a part of that. Each of us needs to challenge ourselves to be able to be a part of that. 

So far, large changes in society have been pushed to happen by large groups of people in public opposition. Large displays of public opposition to irrational policies do have an effect.

What gets in our way of being a part of that? What distress interferes with our being able to think about it? We each have our own versions, but they all started in early childhood—in all the ways people told us to be quiet, to not make a fuss, to not cause trouble; in all the ways we were told that we didn’t understand; in all the ways we were forced to follow irrational policies or were punished for not following them. If we didn’t give in early, the threats continued as we grew up. Some of us gave up early and didn’t challenge. For some of us, challenging got frozen in our distresses, and we still can’t think about how to handle challenges; we oppose everything. What we need to be able to do is to think here, to understand that changing the world requires action—and the more thoughtful, the better.

Are we able to think about what makes sense in each situation and be a part of, and help create, open opposition to irrational policies? That can challenge us, because it goes against a lot of distresses. But deciding to go into open opposition gets us working on those distresses, so we can better decide what action makes sense for us in our situation. And completely aside from needing to affect society, we need to do this to free our own minds. An important contradiction [to distress] occurs when we do it.

I know that for me, being on the street with twenty thousand people has a good effect. It contradicts a lot of old feelings of being the only one who understands, the only one who cares that much. In situations like that, we see people happy to be together and feeling much less alone than they’re used to feeling. And that alone helps them to think further and change their perspective. 

Joining with others in ways like that will change our mind. It is in our immediate self-interest. It allows us to not just discharge on old distresses but also act in the present in spite of them. It can remind us how powerful we really are and how able to move in the present. 

So, we need to be out in visible opposition to irrational policies. To do that requires us to go against a lot of old distress. But no matter how we’ve been hurt, we can still move. The distress doesn’t take away that ability. It just makes everything harder. Distress doesn’t make things impossible—just difficult and confusing, until we discharge it.

(Present Time 202, January 2021)

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