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Activism and the No-Socializing Policy

The RC Communities have always encouraged RCers to participate in wide world organizations that have rational policies. Harvey Jackins framed this for leaders as “having one foot in the RC Communities and one foot in the wide world, and leading effectively in both.” We have many understandings and tools in RC that can help wide world organizations be even more effective.

More RCers are getting active in wide world change. I see more and more Co-Counselors at demonstrations and meetings. Many of us have started wide world organizations or led listening projects. In our United to End Racism (UER), No Limits for Women (No Limits), and Sustaining All Life (SAL) projects, we have stretched to take what we’ve learned to people and organizations working for liberation and against climate change. This is all good.

For the well-being of our Co-Counseling relationships, the RC Community, and the organizations we are a part of, we need to think well about and take responsibility for our relationships as we work together as RCers in the wide world.


In one rapidly growing climate-change organization that I am part of, there are now six active Co-Counselors. We came into the organization separately, for our own reasons. Now that we’re in it together, we have to think about being responsible in our relationships with each other and with the other members of the organization. The no-socializing policy guides us here. See Guideline N.2. of the 2013 Guidelines for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities.

It is not a violation of the no-socializing policy to join an organization that other Co-Counselors belong to. The no-socializing policy doesn’t tell us to stay away from each other in the wide world because we are Co-Counselors. It does caution us not to seek each other out because we are Co-Counselors—not to join a specific group because Co-Counselors are already members or expect Co-Counselors to be our comrades in the group or smooth the way into the group for us. When we join an organization, we are there to contribute to it and relate to all of its members, not to "huddle" together with the other RCers.

It’s fine to be in a wide world organization together if we stay aware and take full responsibility for how we function in the organization—with each other and with the organization’s other members. We need to talk together about how we are functioning and think and discharge about any no-socializing issues that arise. We need to discharge about our various relationships and keep the wide world and RC relationships separate. Our RC relationships remain the primary ones.

Whenever we are working in an organization with other RCers, we should inform our RC teacher and/or Reference Person, so they can help us think about it. If difficulties arise, we should inform them immediately. The wide world relationships must not take resource away from building the RC Community, our primary task.

Frozen needs (for companionship, love, cooperation, help, and commitment from others) can lead us to be irresponsible about our Co-Counseling relationships. They can pull us to lean on each other rather than discharge the hurts and reach to build new responsible relationships. If we are not mindful of this, frozen expectations and disappointments can spoil our relationships with each other.


Unless we had a previously established non-RC relationship, we are not to recruit Co-Counselors into, or hire Co-Counselors to work in, our non-RC organizations. Instead we should recruit contacts from outside RC. See Guideline N.2., and “Do Not Recruit Co-Counselors into Wide World Organizations You Are Leading or Building” on page 275 of A Kind, Friendly Universe, by Harvey Jackins. Any exceptions must be approved by the Regional Reference Person and the International Reference Person.

This policy was worked out years ago to interrupt the temptation to involve RCers already knowledgeable about our issues in building our organizations. We need to be teaching non-RCers what we know about building effective organizations, not leaning on other RCers to build them. If other Co-Counselors ask to join our organizations, we should encourage them to start their own organizations and recruit contacts from the wide world.

We are unique in what we know about how to end oppression, and we want to make that widely available. Occasionally RCers in a non-RC organization want a training (usually on an issue of oppression) to be led by a group outside the organization that has a Co-Counselor as one of its trainers. When Co-Counselors already active in the organization can give such a training, they should do so—and involve non-RCers and teach them our tools as part of the project. When that isn’t possible, the Regional and International Reference Persons can be asked if an exception can be made under Guideline N.2., so that an RCer can be invited to give the training.


Can it ever make sense to invite a Co-Counselor to come to a wide world event with us as part of our Co-Counseling relationship? We can think about this within the framework of the no-socializing policy. Our motivation is an important factor. Why do we want our Co-Counselor to come? What is the goal? Why do we need an RCer with us? Is it a frozen longing for support that we should discharge? Is it a desire for more partners in our activism, something we should make happen by building more relationships with people who are not RCers?

Or are we asking our Co-Counselor to play an additional role that would be supportive of the Co-Counseling one? Is she or he temporarily creating better conditions for us to work ourselves free of distress—not smoothing over, or taking over the handling of, the difficulties in our life? Perhaps our Co-Counselor will better understand a part of our life so that she or he can counsel us better. Or maybe we are playing a challenging role at the event and we want a session immediately before or after it.

Having our Co-Counselor attend can be part of our Co-Counseling relationship if we are thinking well about ourselves, our Co-Counselor, and the impact it will have on our RC Community; if our Co-Counselor is in agreement; and if we reciprocate by supporting him or her. It also needs to be something we can explain to others and that they will understand within the context of the no-socializing policy. Any situation like this needs to be talked over with our teacher or Reference Person.


We want to take RC into the wide world. We want to teach it to as many people as we can. Some situations offer excellent opportunities to do this, and they may require many RCers. Any wide world change project that Co-Counselors undertake together should be part of what we call in our Guidelines a “going public” project.

A going public project can be as simple as a listening project or as complex as Sustaining All Life going to Morocco for two weeks to share RC at the United Nations climate talks.

As part of a going public project, we might go to wide world meetings with other Co-Counselors or lead wide world trainings together. These kinds of things involve a lot more than Co-Counseling sessions. However, because the heart of them is teaching RC, we do not consider the RCers involved to be socializing. At the same time, we all still have the early distresses that led to the need for the no-socializing policy and we need to guard against getting lost in their pulls. Tending to our relationships is an important and ongoing part of any going public project.

Guideline I.1. requires getting approval from a Reference Person to undertake a going public project. (And the Reference Person must check with the International Reference Person about it.) The Reference Person will consider the goals of the project, the resources needed, and whether the local RC Community can offer follow-up classes to people who are interested in RC. We want to give people their best chance to have all of RC, not just a “naturalized” version of it. Our tools are great and make people’s lives and organizations work better, but we want people to be able to really get their minds back and free themselves from hurts and oppression.

Our main work is building the RC Community. If a project will require too much resource or we can’t provide follow-up for interested prospective RCers, it probably doesn’t make sense. The Reference Person will also consider the abilities of the RCers proposing the project to ensure that they will represent RC well in public. She or he needs to think about how well they can support the no-socializing policy, discharge on and not defend any difficulties that might arise in their relationships, keep distinct the various relationships involved, and be responsible and in charge of each relationship.

Our relationships and our responsibility to the RC Community are more important than any individual going public project. So we want the RCers involved to be able to handle the additional relationships, expectations, and responsibilities.

Before starting a going public project, it’s good to think about the difficulties that might arise. The Co-Counselors involved should discharge on and talk through, with their Reference Persons, the relevant questions:

  • What is the goal of the project? Does it both take RC into the world and build the RC Community?
  • What are we agreeing to do together?
  • What is reasonable to ask of each other as part of the project?
  • What has each person agreed to do as part of the project?
  • Who is in charge of the project?
  • What is each person’s role?
  • What do we do if the project is not going well?
  • Can we agree to talk about our difficulties as they arise, including those caused by racism and other oppressions?
  • Who will we go to if our relationships get messy?
  • What is the budget for the project?
  • Has the Re-evaluation Foundation approved the project? If not, where will funding come from?
  • Who is in charge of keeping to the budget?

If the group cannot resolve a difficulty in a short period of time, they should bring it to their Reference Person and notify the International Reference Person. If things get messy between individuals, the people involved may need to pull out of the project until they can discharge on and clean up the difficulty. Otherwise it might spoil their relationship or pull too much resource away from the project or the RC Community.

So far, our most successful going public projects have been UER, No Limits, and SAL taking RC to large international conferences. There are many articles in Present Time about these projects and their successes. On a small scale, we have done countless listening projects on the occasion of important events, like elections or wars, or at public events like marches, street fairs, exhibits, and demonstrations. We have done presentations of RC theory on many topics. There are a few write-ups about these events as well. A resource packet for listening projects is available by writing to <>.

Our going public projects have been successful in several ways. They have helped us think about how to take what we know out to more people. They have strengthened us internally, as we’ve challenged ourselves to present RC at large conferences and meetings. People we’ve met have started new RC Communities or joined existing ones. (Our early projects weren’t so successful at bringing people into RC, but that seems to have changed in recent years.)


With the approval and guidance of their Reference Persons, a number of RC Communities have participated visibly and effectively in local marches and rallies under the banners of UER, SAL, and No Limits. This has introduced new people to RC, or to the ideas of RC, and encouraged a larger group of Co-Counselors to consider social activism. The first time the Seattle (Washington, USA) RC Community participated in a climate change march, local RC classes addressed going public in the weeks before the march and many people discharged their way to joining the listening projects and marching for the first time.

A few Communities are experimenting with ongoing UER and SAL projects, with the goal of taking our work on racism into the broader environmental/climate movement. Several of us in Seattle are working together in an ongoing UER project in which a couple of us have joined an organization whose purpose is to educate people about racism and climate justice. We support each other as we figure out how to teach RC at the organization’s educational events. What we do is similar to what people have done at UER, No Limits, and SAL events, but we’re doing it within a local organization instead of at a big conference where we are present for a few days and then leave. We are members of the organization, not in charge of it, and have the added challenge and opportunity of building long-term relationships with local people and building a lasting, positive reputation in our home community. And we are in closer relationships with each other as RCers than we are at the long-distance events.

We’ve had to be thoughtful about adding the wide world activities to our RC relationships. We’ve had to talk through what it’s like for each of us, and be proactive about doing this—not wait until problems develop to talk about our relationships. It’s also been important to not “huddle” together and instead build independent relationships with the other people in the group. It has helped that all of us are RC leaders. We are accustomed to thinking about the issues and taking responsibility for our relationships.


Some of our going public projects will involve relationships that last for many years. Some of these relationships will be with people who respect and appreciate our work but who are not interested in pursuing RC. We’ll need to think flexibly about how to keep and develop these relationships and not allow (their or our) distresses about relationships to confuse us.

Changes in society will present us with more and more challenges. We can use our going public projects to push against our fears and timidities to think more clearly about and take effective action for change. It is increasingly clear that these projects move both RC and the world forward.

Diane Shisk

Alternate International Reference Person for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities

Seattle, Washington, USA

(Present Time 189, October 2017)

* Guideline N.1. REASON: A Co-Counselor may thoughtfully choose to play an additional role only if that role is supportive of the counseling role.

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