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Empowerment Issues

Article by The Crisses

There are significant barriers to empowerment, including the indoctrination of the masses into systems of shame both on a social, societal, political, family, etc. level. Our whole culture is rife with power/control issues and people actively using threats of loss of belongingness & inclusion to reinforce conformity. People are constantly living in fear of erasure, abandonment, cutting off resources, and denying social and emotional supports. Why? Because we're putting too much of who we are and how valuable, valid, acceptable, competent, etc. into the hands of others.

We've been thinking of developing an Empowerment course, it would likely dwarf our current "Magnum Opus" of the United Front: Building Community course. We're studying up on shame, thinking deep and long about many issues, watching the shame machines of society, groups, syscourse, etc. churn while the US (and the world) winds up & braces for another election cycle, potentially threatening everyone's safety & security.

Still, we have to ask — especially as we look around at how many people perpetuate the shame machine and participate in systems of shame — whether people really want to take control & responsibility of what's going on around them.

If people "just" want to go to work, get paid, and thumb through social media posts, then this won't work. Participation in our life, taking responsibility and control of one's own determination within ones means, is needed to take back power & control from others. It's not easy, but it's almost always possible to take on more of one's own power/control & determination.

Then to expand this idea more broadly, how do we co-create something bigger than ourselves, to restore interdependence. What we've got going on now as a society isn't sustainable and isn't working. Will people help make the agreements that a group runs on, doing what one can to contribute, speaking up about one's needs, helping someone else get their needs filled? It all matters. Otherwise we're at the mercy of economies, corporations, lawmakers, therapists & other professionals — the "town square" becomes social media streams of data rather than actual socializing even if it's in chat or on zoom.

This may seem like a tall order. It starts gradually, and like a lot of other skills it gets easier as we exercise the muscles needed to do it. It starts with establishing safety, boundaries, learning how to say no, working on communication & trust with others. Just like building internal community for plural systems.

But do people really want to be empowered? So many people are looking for someone else to lean on, someone to blame, someone else to tell them what to do, how to heal, handing their power over to others left & right. Some fervently defend those they have handed their power over to. If folks actively want to dodge personal responsibility — and it even might be ableist to even ask these questions — then there is no hope of empowering people.

However, looking back at the Black/Civil Rights Movement, Disability movement, LGTBQ2IA+ movement, the current Trans Activism movement, etc. — every one of these movements is all about taking back power & control. I think it's time to really codify what's going on in the bigger picture, where it is that the systems of shame are taking power & control from us, how we're acquiescing to these power/control structures, and exactly what it is we need to do to become empowered in any or every way.

Since we needed to know whether people *want* their power/control "back" (if they ever had it, and to learn what it is and how to hold it if they never have had it…), we asked Twitter (June 15, 2023), which for all its failings is a low-barrier potentially viral platform where posts can slip and slide around in various communities. This is the 2-day poll thread:

Do you (or y'all if plural) want power & control over your actions, your life, your consequences, your circumstances, your destiny? [note from comments: more at self-determination than "destiny" in a spiritual "out of our hands" sense]

Please consider this carefully. Responsibility for what goes right, & what goes wrong.

Poll Result
I need to know more.29%

We've been giving this deep thought. We do, our answer is yes. We know what we're doing, we are living into our plans for next year, we don't hand our personal/collective power over this life to a higher power, politics, family, friends, etc. It's ours.

I think there's a lot of people out there who don't want to be responsible for what they say, do, how they act, or even how they feel. They put their power & control somewhere else. Their spouse, friends, religion, political leaders, illness, etc.

We live in a shame based culture. The power of shame is that it robs us of intrinsic power & control and tells us that our behaviors need to be dictated by someone outside our body-mind. That we shall be robbed of basic necessities like community supports if we stray from the pathway dictated to us by others. Toxic shame-based family systems pass this down generation to generation, disempowering children who grow up to become adults who don't know how to hold their own power. They may be authoritarian parents who say they are the dictator and what they say goes, so maybe we grow up into authoritarian parents but still swayed by the tides and what will the neighbors or pastor say or think about us, and continue to exert this overwhelming amount of control on the family unit to meet the standards of some higher authority.

And others flop and fawn and are searching for someone "strong enough" to hold their power & control; they don't know what to do with it — they're unable to grow up.

Children — and by extension therapy clients — need to be given back their power & control as they gain the ability to handle it. Replacing authoritarian parents with authoritarian professionals does no one any good. We need to learn how to trust ourselves again.

So, by extension — we're looking at the world and how people are almost throwing their power, control & sense of responsibility at others. What news agencies tell them what to think, what platform a party tells them to support, what idols tell them to believe, and we think "Is this world really ready to do away with representative legislatures?" "Are these people even capable of thinking about what they really want and need?"

If the systems of power wised up and said oops, here take your power back — would people do it?

Or would it look like a game of hot potato?

Ouch—that burns, no I don't want this, it's too heavy, too hot, too much, I don't know how to handle it, get it away from me!! Quick someone tell me what to do!

So — what is it? Do you want your power & control or not?

We'll continue this conversation as we digest the poll results and gather our thoughts about this issue…stay tuned.

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