Organizing Yourself for Fun and Profit
What do you do in an organizing conversation?
1. You find out what a person cares about
2. You agitate her on those isues, that is, make her experience an emotional reaction about the things she cares about
3. You educate her about what actions she could take to further the things she cares about
4. You push her to commit to taking those actions, by fully laying out the way those actions further her self interest
5. You inoculate her on the negative consequences of those actions, so that when they happen she is mentally prepared and won't be disheartened and swear that she'll never be talked into this pointless crap again.
Organizing is hard, because in the structure of that conversation is the acknowledgement that a person has a choice over what she does with her time and her decisions are her own to make. It is much easier, if you have any kind of power over someone, to talk yourself into believing you are in a position to lay down the law with them and create boundaries they must abide by to avoid the full terror of your fury. It's an abusive, untenable dynamic that destroys everyone involved, but it's also what we have experience with and feel comfortable in. Most of the time a person will walk away from you as soon as they can once they know that's the relationship you're interested in having with them.
It's fascinating how many people have been trained in organizing principles, and believe wholeheartedly in them, but revert to the hierarchy as soon as they possibly can. And when it comes to my self-talk, the hierarchy thrives. Thoughts like this happen fairly regularly:
"You didn't call up that rape crisis center to volunteer because you are a lazy, privileged fatty."
Well, now. When people do good things to avoid being bad people, they do the very least they can do and they save it for special occasions and they long for a release from morality altogether. When people do good things because they have articulated to themselves that they have principles by which they want their days on this earth to be run, because it is in their self interest to feel at peace with how they spend their time and the relationships they develop, and an action is the natural outgrowth of those principles, they will take that action and look for the next action they can take.
Why didn't I call up the rape crisis center yesterday? Because it was sunny out, and there was an apartment to look at, and then the library was there and I meant to get some books on sex ed out, then I got hungry, and....point being, it's not that I didn't call up the rape crisis center because there were so many puppies to kick. And if I called up the rape crisis center, it wouldn't be because I am a better person today than I was yesterday. It would be because I have some wishes for how my future days will be structured, and calling the rape crisis center is in accord with those wishes. It is in my self interest to call, and if I can work myself up emotionally that phone call will happen.
Now, you might respond, "Doesn't the rape crisis center need volunteers regardless of your emotional state?" Good one. Well, I know about myself that a thought like that will very quickly turn into an accusation of my inherent evil, and once I get that thought I seek to limit my effect on the world by holing up and reading the entire internet.
That's my thoughts on that. Also, I am not moving to New Orleans. Partly because of a new relationship, but mostly because there are lots of opportunities in Chicago that I'm excited about. I decided at the very last minute not to move and I think it was a good decision.