Process Work Contributions to Men and Power

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S: It seems that some people need to develop more psychological rank. I imagine someone who is in a marginalized position and so has little social rank. Is there a tendency for this type of person to get wiser in other rank areas?

A: If they want to make an effect in the world then they have to use the spiritual rank that they have to compensate for that lack of social rank. Like Joan of Arc. It was France hundreds of years ago, she was a maiden of 13 so she had no age rank, she had no gender rank, she was a woman, she was nothing. She was low in rank except for her relationship with God and with St. Michael. In a day when women were looked down upon, especially young women she only had spiritual rank. It didn’t stop her becoming a leader of the country.

S: How do people get there? I am thinking of Nelson Mandela who gets oppressed--for 30 years he is in prison. His people are destroyed by racism in South Africa, and yet he comes out of prison with a vision that everyone is his brothers and sisters.

A: I don’t know how he got there. I don’t know enough about him. I read his book but he doesn’t talk a lot about that. But I think it’s a spiritual thing. That the deciding factor in the world leadership is the person who has arrived at social rank from having a spiritual connection.

S: Let’s shift to the men’s movements. The men’s movements have many, many diverse groups. One group is the Men’s Rights group. It says that men don’t have any privilege and that although it costs women to be part of the culture, it also costs men.

A: It’s too general. They need to say that men don’t have power in these specific moments.

S: Another group called the Radical Feminist group, feel that men need to give up social power totally. They say that basically they need to refuse in a way to be men.

A: No one talks about awareness. It’s always about give it up, have it or not have it.

S: Another group focuses on the costs of being a man. A lot of men’s growth groups encourage men to develop feelings, develop a ‘wildness’, because those things have been oppressed. Others, for example, the Christian right wing group, the Promise Keepers, say men should take their rightful place of being in control of the home. Before we go into any specific details of these groups, why do we have so many diverse views?

A: Well, there are so many different kinds of men and some men need to be wilder. Some men need to just drop it and stop acting like a big macho brute and be more sensitive. All of these views are correct. In fact there’s not enough views. There should be another 300.

S: At one moment in the group process, the group focused on the WJHM, who was challenged as having privilege due to his white skin and was unable to address this. The group felt, ‘C’mon you got privileges, you’re white - you have got to wear it. There are certain privileges of being a white man.’ But he said he didn’t feel he had any. Why does he not recognize this?

A: How can they hear it? They are being attacked. How are you supposed to learn something if you’re being attacked for it? It doesn’t work. The question is, why doesn’t the group understand the problem? Not just that particular individual. I will always be saying this. Instead of putting the weight on a given individual, I am saying why doesn’t the community consciousness realize that people who have rank can’t get it. They don’t know how.

S: On the other side marginalized members of the group would say, ‘I walk out of here and I have to move sideways in the lines, privileged people are served first, there are many things that infuriate me. People have to notice when they are getting this privilege.’

A: Why is it that you’re picking on a white Jewish man? Why are you ignoring his Jewishness? Why do you call him only a white man? Why are you yourselves not differentiating enough in your rank problem? What are you doing?

S: I’d say, ‘I can’t tell he is Jewish, yet. But he’s white for sure.’

A: Well, maybe he’s afraid of being Jewish and he’s not talking about it. I expect you, who want to know so much about rank, to understand something about that. That being Jewish, he can hide some of that (his Jewishness). But why are you picking on that?

S: Let me go further and say, ‘I have no space. I imagine I have no space. I am furious.’

A: That I totally understand and I want to make as much room for you as possible; and I want to help with this big problem; and I want you to have the time here to be furious and go forwards as much as you like.

S: Well, I’m furious at him.

A: OK. If you were furious at him, what is the result of what happened?

S: Nothing.

A: Well, then maybe you want to look at the way you are doing things. If you leave it all on him, you’ll be waiting for another incarnation.

S: That’s really helpful.

A: As an activist you want change. If you’re not getting change then we have to find out how to get change. In a way, how to create a world that you really want. Maybe what you’re doing is a great fabulous beginning, but maybe we want to look more at that. How to get the change that you want. If what you did, didn’t work this first time or this time, let’s see what you could do to get that change. Or what I can do. Let’s look at something else.

S: What happens if I am just furious and I want to beat back?

A: There’s plenty of room to do that--go ahead and start beating back. The beating back is understandable, but it’s creating the world that puts you down in the first place. You want to just beat the other one down. I don’t blame you--there’s no blame--but I just carry this awareness with me in my heart at the same time.

S: Men do have power, social rank. What is your learning around ways of coming to recognize rank?

A: First of all, recognizing it. A man recognizing his rank, say as a white male. I’ll talk about white males to begin with, but this might hold for other types also. To begin with, the fact that women sometimes feel the effects of this rank and will make him aware of it. They will say to him, ‘You...’ Sometimes they won't be able to say anything. They will just be continuously upset with that man. And he will always think, ‘That’s just because she’s a woman’ that she’s in that state; instead of realizing the role that he has with his social rank. He’ll never understand her continuously being upset as a function of his feeling above her. So the way to recognize rank problems is by noticing he is thinking the other one has the problem. The woman has the problem. That itself is a rankist attitude. But nobody with rank, not just white men, no one sees it. The social activist, for example, doesn’t realize that her or his use of spiritual rank can also be oppressive.

S: In the same way, the social activist can feel better than the person who’s screwing up.

A: Totally better. It’s a totally righteous position that looks down on the other.

S: How do we recognize it?

A: First, by feeling better than other people and thinking the other one is the problem, for too long. In the beginning, that is really good to do. If you think the other one is the only problem for a long period of time, know you’re stuck.

S: Then the question is, ‘Why move from that?’

A: Well, because you’re stuck and it doesn’t make you happy. You burn out. It burns you out. You think you’re always better than the other person, whether it’s a spiritual rank of the activist or the man that suddenly burns, you start burning out on your activities.

S: I am thinking about Worldwork, while we’re on this thing about men being attacked. I feel like Worldwork is changing, for example in relationship to white men. Do you see a change?

A: Different facilitators change. We’re part of a diverse community and everybody has their way of doing things. So my attitudes change and everybody’s changing, everybody’s different so I won’t talk for everybody.

S: Can you talk more about the issues of relating to the one who has social rank--for example a white Christian Man?

A: I work in many different situations so I’m thinking of organizations, government groups and businesses, and I understand that you’re interested in the white man right now, but it is a symbol in a way, of all rank situations that nobody, none of the bosses ever get it. They don’t get it. And therefore everybody has to become the leader and the boss and the central awareness chief and take that projection off of the leader. The leaders are rarely or never able to really lead. And rarely have the right backing. And so I think it’s totally naïve for a culture to think that the so called leaders are the leaders. I think this has to change. That all of us need to get it and see that she or he who is aware of how to do relationships is the leader.

S: And the person holding the leadership role changes at a given moment?

A: Yes--that leadership changes at a given moment and is a shared consciousness. This is a cultural change that I'm interested in. And I’m fascinated by one person being the Tzar and a Bolshevik revolution happening against that Tzar. It makes sense, but the Tzar empowers a ghost role (of the one in power). Everybody has power and needs to use it properly. That’s my vision.

S: Regarding power, Foucault, a French philosopher, criticized Marx’s ideas when he talked about the Bolshevik revolution. He stated that seizing the means of production rather than transforming the whole culture just results in someone else running the means of production.

A: That’s history. Revolution means revolving. It doesn’t mean transforming. That’s why revolutions never really changed consciousness. They changed only the idea of what egalitarian means a little bit, but it never really worked inside. None of us got it. Transformation is more important than revolution.

S: So in terms of recognizing and then using rank well, I imagine using rank well is to recognize this isn't about cutting down the leader or the one who might have the social rank at the time, but really using what rank you have.

A: Knowing. Using awareness, instead of power. That would be real transformation. That awareness itself gives you power so that you can say, ‘This is happening and that is happening’, and that’s where the real leadership is. And forwarding people’s awareness of rank and inner things and outer things. That’s my hope. And it’s going to work! It takes time. It’s a culture change and it’s going to happen--because the other way doesn’t make people happy for long.

S: As a facilitator, is there a sense of focusing responsibility on those who have social power and placing these expectations on them?

A: It makes me laugh. It’s funny. They are the one’s who have least awareness. How can you expect them to know? It’s like asking a rock to describe itself. It never had a mouth before, it can’t do that. It’s over-valuing our leadership. There is nothing wrong with confronting them, but they really need more compassion.

S: One of the ways I feel like I’ve worked is to recognize the other as also myself. That the voice of the furious one is also inside me.

A: Beautiful. This is a major method of working on it, if you can. But the fact that you can do that is due to your psychological rank. For you to expect somebody else to be able to do that would be unconsciously rankful. You mustn’t expect someone else to be able to do this. If you expect another white man to be able to do this, it would be a misuse of power. Because most guys can’t do that. Men or women - there are very few people who can do this. Taking something inside from the outside is a huge thing and it’s not easy to do. It’s very hard.

S: There’s a vision in the background, that we can learn as men. That hurts happen due to unconscious use of rank and that by becoming more aware as men and as white men around the use of social rank, we’re able to use it more effectively. How can this happen?

A: Those of us that want it to happen have to model it. That’s how. That is, if you just bang somebody over the head to make the changes, that won’t work. But we have to model it. We can model certain forms of behavior. That is publicly probably the best way to teach it. Modeling it and acting it out, making videos about it, making a movie about it, etc.

S: When the white Jewish man was being attacked in the group process, you mentioned that going over and genuinely taking that side as a facilitator might have been useful. Fully picking it up.

A: Yes, and modeling how you would like to see that happen. And saying some of us on this side can’t do it, and some of us are trying to do it, and here’s how we try to do it. Modeling is very important.

S: At a point in the group process, there was a discussion, that the white man is like a role--that there is a ‘white man’ in all of us. This took the focus somewhat off the white man in the group and more onto the characteristics of that rankful position such as the freedom to interrupt, the ability to choose what to focus on, etc. What thoughts do you have about this?

A: Onto the white man is being projected he or she who does not see, or will not see, or cannot see their own power. That’s a ghost role that that person (the white man) is being asked to fill in a given moment. But that is surely not him. It’s a role--everybody’s got that.

S: And so one of the ways of addressing the white man is to pick up our own power.

A: Pick up that power and show it or to invite others to show it as well. It’s a feeling thing. You can’t do this as a program. It’s edgy, and is a matter of timing and process.

S: Let’s move onto the men’s movement. One of the first groups to emerge was the men’s liberation movement. It came as a reaction to the woman’s movement. Men focused on the painful effects of sexism to women, as well as the high costs of being a man.

A: Wait a minute before you say even more, I’ve got to say something. That when you talk about the men’s movement, I think here we must say, you must say or they should say, essentially the white men’s movement. The reason is that these are very different things to those things for people of color and gay guys.

S: Yes, actually the men’s movement we know is mostly a white Christian, middle-age, middle-class kind of movement. But there are other groups that do come in at some point in time. So they had all these ideas about the stereotypes of being a man. Can you share some of your own thoughts and experiences of men restricting themselves through stereotypes?

A: Everybody has that, both men and women. Everybody is caught by what their particular ethnicity and cultural background expects of them. Everybody has a consensus reality. All of us. Every role we have, all the social roles. Teacher, student, child, parent, man, woman. You’re supposed to be this and this. Right, and then the men’s movement comes along with new programs for you.

S: Well, they did. They came up with a new program that says you should feel more, you don’t have to get caught in your marriage, you don’t have to get caught by being a provider. That’s another programming.

A: Well, they’re trying to say one program is bad, use another one instead.

S: Let’s backtrack for a moment. The process whereby a group in general, such as men, restrict who they are or are restricted is a cultural conditioning. For example, my own experience where as a kid when I was misbehaving, my dad told me that when I go to the army they’ll make me a man. But what happened is I never went to the military. I’ve never quite become a man in that expectation. Although I didn’t want to go to the military in South Africa and it didn’t feel right for me to go, I still had that voice of my father in my head. Saying you should go to be a real man. So the question in the background is, is this expectation a cost of being a man?

A: Absolutely, yes.

S: If men have social power, why do we set up a condition which does that?

A: Well, the condition that is being set up is to give you social power. If you go to war, you could be president of the US. How many presidents have been generals? It’s the warrior that’s being developed…the restriction is meant to give you more power. You’ve got to be a man and have power.

S: So in a way the situation is an attempt to give men that power?

A: And to lock you into a role in which you have to have power. Whereas a lot of men don’t want it.

S: And also it’s a deep loss of other parts of yourself.

A: Terrible, if you’re not successful, if you don’t make a lot of money, if you don’t beat up somebody else, if you don’t shoot somebody. It means you’re nobody socially. If you look at television it’s really interesting because on TV what you see is amazing. Any channel you flick on, some man is killing somebody else. All the time, and so that’s what it is to be a man, is to learn how to kill other people. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, whatever. It’s always some man killing somebody. That’s what it means to be a man. That’s what all our cultures are telling us. So you’re not a man if you’re not powerful and can’t shoot somebody else down. It is sad. So I have nothing to say about that. I think that had a meaning at one time and it has a meaning today. You do need to take a stand and be strong. You need to shoot back and all the rest of that sort of stuff. But it’s very stupid. It’s like adolescent almost. To me it feels like adolescent. It’s a phase, you’ve got to learn how to take a stand, and then it changes.

S: And so the culture gets stuck in that spot?

A: The culture is stuck there. And all the things we see in World Work are stuck there, too. Peoples shooting everybody else down. Shooting, shooting, shooting. I have to laugh at Clinton. He wants to stop the guns, but you have to stop the shooting before you even make a gun. The guns aren’t the problem. No one would be interested in them, if you could stop shooting. People obviously need to shoot more. They need to have that phase, and have a chance to do that and get through it.

S: How do you get through it if the culture’s stuck there? They look like they have been shooting a long time.

A: Well, I think there is a time when you need to really shoot and learn how to be strong and fight. Men and women, everybody. After a certain number of years it gets tiring, if it’s had a chance, feelings change and something deeper happens.

S: So creating the space for that.

A: Letting it be, appreciating it and saying ‘yes’ not ‘no’ to a kid who wants to get a gun. Yes, get yourself a gun and learn how to take a stand in a fight. Now let me fight with you little kid. I’ll say something and I want you to shoot back. And teaching how to shoot instead of taking the gun out of the kid’s hand.

S: In a way that’s what the culture does, is to create a paradox. At one level you’re saying shoot, and at another level you’re saying be good. Behave yourself, go to school, don’t talk back.

A: And they want to take the guns out (to control the situation)--you can’t look at guns, you can’t do this and that. I understand it. I am also in favor of it. But I want something deeper too.

S: Part of the work would be to re-own some of the marginalized parts of being a man. Many men having difficulty sharing feelings. This is part of the cost of being a man, men are taught as kids to be strong and tough. This at times creates a huge amount of suffering.

A: When you say many men have trouble feeling, I have to say that’s a generality which is true. However, in many specific groups men are encouraged to have feelings even though as a whole, they’re not. Like for example Italian men are encouraged to have lots of feelings, Jewish men are encouraged to feel things, black men have lots of feeling too, but I understand the white culture in general, the white Christian culture is a little bit shy about feelings. So there are generalities here which are true.

S: There was an environmental activist at a Worldwork seminar who was sobbing. He said he’d seen a lot of pain and had previously thought he should hold all his feelings in. He sobbed uncontrollably for hours. I wanted to ask you about that--when men begin to access parts they have lost, what do you think is happening?

A: If someone begins to access something that they’ve lost, feelings that they have lost? My feeling isn't just about them being men--it’s about them being people. Whether it’s a man or a woman. Room, they need lots of room for that.

S: Certain white Christian men frequently might be very calm. I’ve seen this at Worldwork seminars where the group might be attacking a white man, certain groups of white men, and they stay very calm and centered. I wonder whether you have some comments about what’s going on there.

A: The attitude is that what they’re doing is wrong, instead of seeing them also as a culture. I understand that the attitude towards white Christian culture is that the men shouldn’t be that way. But it’s their ethnicity, it’s that person’s ethnicity. It’s how they live, it’s who they are. So it doesn’t help in relationship things, but it has other good things about it that are very useful. But it’s used here to put feelings down. There’s a betterness in it and a mainstreamness about it and an unconsciousness of the psychological and spiritual rank in it, that messes everybody up. But otherwise it’s just another culture.

S: An interesting philosopher exploring power, Levinas, feels that the self finds meaning in caring for others--“The Self finds its meaning, not centered in itself as an ego, but as a Self facing the other person who calls the Self out of its center to be ethically responsible.” That fulfillment for a person comes not only in personal power but in caring for the needs of others too. And that’s naturally inbuilt. That has in a way a spirituality in it.

A: That’s beautiful.

S: Could this also be part of a motivation for those who have social power in some situations, Christian white men or…

A: Caring for others is a very dangerous business. It sounds like the other one needs caring for. I am nervous about this. Because if you care for others it means they need caring for. I would say ‘you (white men) need to recognize that you need help and that you need others to help you’--would be really great for a white man. We need help, and so we need others to help us. We do enough caring for other people, and not enough in some ways, and so Levinas is right. But somehow we need help. We’re not strong men all the time.

S: That could be ‘the other’ inside us, that we need care and are vulnerable.

A: The one who’s vulnerable. I think the white man needs a lot of help and that the sooner he recognizes it, the happier he’ll be! Instead of trying to be a big dude; to be a little dude and to reduce him to show the psychological weakness and the neediness and the begging for help and understanding and work. That would be a marvelous transformation. Everybody who’s got rank and is unconscious needs help. Recognizing that you need help is already a huge thing.

S: There’s a guy, Kuntz, who said that power is a paradox and frequently those that have power are weak and those who don’t are strong.

A: I want to be specific. Those who have power are frequently weak in knowing about it and an awareness about it, their psychological and spiritual rank is low.

S: So when you said white men need help--those who have social power in a way actually have a big need in the background.

A: They have a big need to be helped and get out of the damn position of acting like a big dude. That’s like no good for anybody. They need to be helped--get out of there while you’re still alive. Let somebody else take over and parent you and father you. It’s important.

S: We’re talking a lot about the men’s rights activists--they challenge the premise that men have power. Men go to war, they die earlier, there’s a high incidence of suicide, they have much riskier livelihoods. Farrell wrote a book called The Myth of Male Power, and he said basically that men don’t have power.

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