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The First Step Is to Get in Motion

From a talk by Tim Jackins1 at the West Coast North America Reference Persons’ Workshop, January 2015

I read science, because it’s the clearest place where I can find minds going a little farther all the time and being fascinated by thinking. Science will be useful in figuring out how to turn something around with the environment, but not without our minds getting out of where they are stuck.

We are going to win this fight for the environment. I am confident of that. (You may not be. You may be feigning confidence, and that’s a good thing to do in some circumstances. All RC teachers have to borrow someone else’s confidence until they can discharge enough to get it themselves.) We can do it, but we have to look at what’s really in our way—those old feelings of helplessness—and also realize the size of the job and the fact that we’re capable of doing it.


We have cleaned up our minds and done certain things, and now we need to move bigger. We can’t simply go forward in the way we know how to (though it’s been effective). We can’t just contain our material2 and try harder. It needs to be a different effort. Now something different would be much more useful. It involves facing how bad it was in our early childhood, how discouragement got its claws into us, and how we really feel like we can’t. All children are made to feel like they can’t change the world. But it’s not enough to go on feeling that way and trying hard. That’s a misrepresentation of reality. We can change the world. But we don’t look like it when we earnestly go ahead without discharging the distress. And people can’t rely on our determination alone. It is not trustworthy, because it wears out. They need to see more of our mind engaged, see us thinking that we really can do this. That means facing the hopelessness we hold down all the time. We can do that. We can do it just for ourselves, and now there are bigger reasons to do it.

I’m pushing you rather hard in a way that I haven’t before, and it may be restimulating. But as a counselor we can’t just be supportive to someone’s struggle; we also have to say, “And now we face the places that you haven’t been able or willing to face, whether you want to or not.” We may have to be a bit of a non-permissive counselor to really help people out of the places where they got badly hurt. I’m trying to do this with you on this issue. I’m trying to make you move in ways you feel like you don’t want to, or know how to, or don’t think you can. I know you can.

I think we can turn this crisis around. I have great faith in human minds. While all this destruction is going on,3 a tremendous amount of learning is going on at the same time. People are understanding the world even better and figuring out how to become allies, how to take on4 struggles. That’s all happening at the same time.

We can take on the things that we’re afraid to take on, the battles in our heads that have cowed us and made us sit still for a long time because they’ve seemed like too much. They are simply early distress. I will keep talking to you about this for quite a while, because it’s important. These distresses are chronic, so it’s easy to go on, make life work as best we can, and leave them in place. We have gone a long ways on that basis. We never had the resource to do otherwise. But now, as near as I can tell,5 we have done the work to build the resource to do something different. We don’t just have to suffer the existing conditions, make small changes to make life a little better for us and for those we can reach. But to do more requires facing things that seem like they won’t move, because they never have.

It’s hard to go after6 the next thing in front of us, because we haven’t faced things from the past. We learned early how to make do7 with what was available. We had to. But now, to leave our perspective frozen in distress is a mistake, and we have a choice to do something different.

As far as I can tell, we have to try for everything or we get confused. If we settle for something limited by our distresses anywhere, the confusion spreads. We’re still afraid that we can’t do things. We settle for what we are, instead of trying for what we could and want to be. And this ends up accommodating an oppressive society. It’s not that we need to confront the society all the time, but we need to figure out what we really can do. We need to do this for each of our minds individually and for what we have collectively decided we want to have happen.

So that’s my picture of the current front of our struggle.

We have done well, and it’s been a little lurching. We’ve gotten confused by our old defeats. We have to change that. We have to change it in our lives and out where the society is collapsing. We also need to change it within our Communities, to make them more fully human. We can give people a clearer, fuller, warmer, and more personal picture of what’s possible for them when they come into RC. We can hold it out even though they can’t believe it initially. We have to not insist on it, not be worried about it, just be confident about it.


We have lots of things to do that our discouragement hasn’t let us try—out in the world as well as in RC—but I don’t want our motion to become an urgent motion. The present is not urgent. We don’t have to do anything. At the same time, a common distress is the feeling that it doesn’t matter if we don’t do it now. “I’ll do it later.” We put off facing the difficult things. It does matter when we face them. It’s not urgent, but the sooner we can move, the more possibilities we have. The present matters. We can lose sight of that because of the defeats of the past, in which it didn’t seem to matter what we did. Every moment matters. But it’s not urgent. Very few moments are vital. We’re not in one of those. It may feel like it, but we’re not likely to be in a moment like that.

We also don’t need to have the full solution before we move. We don’t need the full solution now. We need to start testing ideas so we can learn enough to get a full picture and find good solutions. If we don’t move, we’ll never learn enough or challenge our distresses enough. Go out and do things, maybe tiny little things. What’s needed is that you do something where you couldn’t do anything before. It doesn’t matter if you can see any effect at all; doing something has an effect on your mind.

If we didn’t have the distresses in our minds, everything would be different, much clearer, and easier to take on. But we do have them, and the first step is to get in motion. It really doesn’t matter what you do. It does matter that you don’t wait. It’s not urgent, but every moment is a possibility that you weren’t able to take advantage of in the past.

You always have a chance to do something that will start things moving in the right direction. It does not have to be big. You will figure out bigger and bigger things as you get to play with the small things.

1 Tim Jackins is the International Reference Person for the Re-Evaluation Counseling Communities.
2 "Material" means distress.
3 "Going on" means happening.
4 "Take on" means confront and take action on.
5 "As near as I can tell" means as well as I'm able to perceive it."
6 "Go after" means pursue.
7 "Make do" means manage, do well enough to survive.


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