angel Kyodo williams

radical relationship

In culture, relationship, spirit on February 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm


three pillars for transforming together

Whether you consider it a commercial fabrication designed to use our tender hearts to draw money from our tender wallets or a genuine 1500-year old tradition of expressing courtly love, Valentine’s Day gets us to thinking about Relationship.

Its no wonder we have an increasingly commitment-phobic culture given that relationship has been associated with martyrdom for millennia. But once we move past the anxiety of proving our love by way of flowers, greeting cards or a trip to the local Zales (Tiffany’s if you’ve got it like that) we can actually make use of this time to hone in on how we’re showing up in relationship to our selves, the people in our lives and the planet.

One of the more edgy aspects of the Center for Transformative Change’s history is its underlying structure. It has been a residentially-based community of people that live, work and practice together for nearly three years.

This experiment in relationship was designed to force us to bring all of the main aspects of life into one place. Each of us would be witness to each other. Each of us would be witness to each other. We could no longer show up as heroes at work while neglecting our personal business without being seen. We had to stop hiding behind being “perfect” practitioners that had all the answers while being unreliable colleagues that couldn’t be counted on to complete projects. In the course of this experiment, we discovered that integrity and embodiment had to become the hallmarks (pun intended) of our commitment to justice and sustainability. If we can’t achieve balance in our own lives and organizations, how can we expect to bring it social, national and planetary scale?

It’s given us great insight as an organization into what being in relationship really calls for day in and day out. Recently, changes in our community challenged us even further to become explicit about the what, how and why of being good relationship. All good relationships are based in mutually-empowered, mutually-respected and mutually-held agreements. What we didn’t recognize was that in a culture that has over-privileged and over-valued individuality above all else, we needed to establish such shared agreements as the foundation for being in community in the first place.

Rather than a long tome dictating the rules of engagement for every possible interaction, we needed a set of principles that could be held within the palms of our hands (brief) and carried in the depths of our hearts (memorable). While we don’t expect everyone will start living in practice-based, eco-friendly, soon-to-be-solar-powered social justice communes tomorrow, it has been a monumental learning, the principles of which can become the foundation for living models of personal transformation within community everywhere.

3 Pillars of Radical Relationship

  1. Radical Responsibility – Cultivate appreciation and come to terms with the reality that your life is yours and yours alone. Each of your choices, actions, consequences, outcomes, experiences and feedback are yours to deal with, be in relationship with and take responsibility for. There’s no more time for the blame game and we all need to to get off the pity line. In community and organizations, this means both responsibility for one self and to others. This doesn’t mean you won’t acknowledge and address very real impacts of people, events and conditions on your life, it simply means that you meet those impacts as WHAT IS. This is Radical Responsibility.
  2. “It’s not my fault, but it is my responsibility. Whatever comes, I will meet it as it is, then either initiate a plan to change it…or shut up about it until I’m willing to do so.”

  3. Radical Accountability – Cultivate fierce determination to shift from allowing habit-patterns to drive your basic experience. Key to transforming your life is taking up the full space created by embracing Choice as a lifestyle. Gone are the days of “it just happened,” “i’m just that way,” “I didn’t have a choice.” There is always choice. And yes, there are consequences, too. We can decide, validly and reasonably, that we do not wish to bear the consequences of a particular choice, but we must recognize, and be accountable, for the choices we make. All of them. Every single one without fail. In groups, community and organizations, this means both being accountable and expecting to be held accountable. When we feel stuck, we often cannot see the choices available to us. If you commit to a practice, greater and greater choice becomes apparent. In the meantime, you can choose Radical Accountability.
  4. “May I exercise the precious gift of choice and the power to change that makes me uniquely human.” Whether conscious or unconscious, the impacts of my choices are mine to see through to resolution. —quote from Warrior-Spirit Prayer of New Dharma Community (full version below)<

  5. Radical Purpose – Cultivate an unwavering commitment to help others transform their lives, too. Whatever intention we have for transforming our lives—all actions really—if not ultimately rooted in a genuine desire to see the live of others positively transformed, will be self-serving and have as its result a building up of the kind of ego-centric worldview that is not only false, it is clearly unsustainable for our communities, countries and planet. The goal for our personal transformation—the end game of “towards what end”—must be in service of our interconnectedness, our collective wholeness, and an integrity of the structures that hold it all together. Our pursuit of justice, if truly transformative, must affirm life and insist of security, sustainability and self-determination for all. Both the how and the why, being in Radical Relationship means your liberation is bound up in mine and there is no justice without justice for all. Red, Blue, Black, White, North, South, Left, Right, our movements for deep change, for justice will best serve us aligned in Radical Purpose.
  6. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “…your liberation is bound up with mine…” —Lila Watson

    “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” —Emma Lazarus

For justice to be embodied rather than contrived, we have to walk our talk, so I like to think of these principles as the Radical RAP. While we seem to mistakenly assign “radical” to anything that is off the charts or “way out there” as an idea, radical refers to the root. In choosing Radical Relationship as the perspective that leads every action we take internal and external, real change arises from, gets at and returns us to ours roots: the fundamental Truth of our interconnectedness and unassailable Love that sources us all.

“…without collective freedom, none of it matters.” —yours truly, aKw

with inspirational gratitude to Kimberly, Simha & Lorna, and deep, abiding praise for El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. may his radical journey to love beyond limitation continue to inspire and permeate my every action.”
This essay riffs and expands on MTX1 part b of the Mind Training & Xformation series, a yearlong training delivering pith instructions for transformation each week.
Find it here: “First, do the Groundwork”

copyright MMX. angel Kyodo williams
changeangel: all things change.(sm)

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and founder of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
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  1. Thank you Angel, first and foremost for the boldness of your living experiment. Thank you for launching from the idea that there is no outside, that we can’t be two-ways, that we can’t work for sustainability in unsustainable ways. Thank you for taking the time to synthesize such valid principles, I find deep resonance with them and intend to more explicitly test them against my own experience.

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