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The Cycle of Liberation

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Robyn Doyle

on 2 November 2015

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Transcript of The Cycle of Liberation

According to Harro, liberation begins when we start to experience ourselves differently in the world. It involves an intrapersonal change: we experience a change in what we believe about ourselves. We may "wake up" in reaction to some type of critical incident, or during a long and slow evolutionary process. Cognitive dissonance may be experienced during this phase when something that used to make sense to us ceases to make sense.
The Cycle of Liberation
Once we know something, we we can' t not know it anymore.
It now becomes necessary to seek experiences outside ourselves in order to check our reality and expose ourselves to a wider range of difference. We practice using our skills and tools with others, and experiment with expressing our new views, and speaking out when we disagree as opposed to staying silent. During this phase, we get feedback about how our new worldviews will me met by others. We may be pressured to stop making waves, or we may be encouraged.
This phase involves two steps:

1. CONVERSING WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKE US FOR SUPPORT: As we try to build community with people who are like us, we look for people who may have similar experiences and talk to them to see how they have made sense of their experiences and what we can learn from them. This often occurs informally, or even unconsciously (in a doctor's waiting room, while on a walk with a friend, etc.) but, with increased knowledge and support, the people sometimes start looking for more organized forms of support discussions. During this stage, we begin to feel confirmed, like we are part of a larger group who wants change.

To build community, it is also important to dialogue about how we see the "other" group (those with power if we are disempowered or the disempowered if we possess power or privilege) and begin to identify things that we may mutually have in common. We begin to view the "other" as being more like us than different and no more to blame for the oppression than we are. Coalitions are necessary because we cannot aim to change only our roles; we must change the roles of everyone involved. This involves minimizing the boundaries and borders that divide us.

Having minimized our barriers, joined with allies, and fortified our resolve, we are now ready to move into action to interrupt the oppressive system. This may take the form of lobbying, planning actions, fund raising, or educating and motivating members of the uninformed public. We discover that we have more power as a coalition and this gives us encouragement and confidence. We may begin taking more overt stands, becoming more assertive, or rallying people to support us. We are a "we" now rather than adversaries and the fact that we are on the same side often surprises and confuses the system. We are refusing to play our roles and stay in our places as we did before, refusing to collude in oppression or participate in self-fulfilling prophecies, refusing to accept privileges. We are refusing to accept the status quo, but are calm and self-confident because our feelings of anger and frustration have turned into feelings of hope and optimism. We feel that we can make a difference and our likelihood of doing so is now greatly enhanced.
Many people who gain an understanding about the nature of systemic oppression in our society begin to yearn for social change. They want to do something to change the social injustices that exist. However, eliciting lasting change on a systemic-level (as opposed to merely on a personal-level) is no easy feat. Accordingly, many people become frustrated and disheartened. Fortunately, according to Harro, just as there is an identifiable pattern of events that leads us to a state of unconsciousness about issues of oppression, there may also be one that leads us toward liberation and critical transformation. Harro explains that, while many people who are seeking change do not start in the critical transforming stage and while not everyone goes in the same direction or to the same destination or at the same speed, successful social change only occurs when this level is reached. It is only this systemic-level thinking that allows any real social revolution to occur.
This phase involves consciously dismantling and rebuilding aspects of ourselves and our worldviews based on our new perspectives. We engage in introspection to identify which aspects of our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors need to be challenged. We attend to our thoughts, language, and actions to see if they are consistent with our new beliefs or if they need to be dismantled. We may become inspired to educate ourselves more by reading more, bouncing our new thoughts around with others, viewing the news through a new lens, etc. We try to raise and expand our conscious understanding of the world. This phase is composed of dismantling our wrong beliefs, our discriminatory or privileged attitudes, and behaviors that limit ourselves or others. Here, we move towards gaining coherence between our worldview and how we live. We begin to take steps to empower ourselves.
During this phase of the cycle of liberation, we begin to transform the system. We create a new culture that reflects our coalition's collective identity: new assumptions, new structures, new roles, and new rules consistent with a more socially just and equitable philosophy. This new system is shaped by the values of a diverse and united community. This may involve influencing the structure, policy, and management of organizations and systems of which we are a part. It involves taking leadership, taking risks, and guiding change. The very essence of the system is transformed.
In order to succeed, change needs to be strengthened, monitored, and integrated into the ritual of daily life. It needs to be taken care of, learned about, "debugged", and modified as needed. A diverse group of "maintainers" is imperative. It is also important to celebrate successful change efforts. When a diverse group of people have worked together to create change, a message of hope and peace is spread. It becomes more possible that we can live our dream of equality and justice for all people. We become more human, more whole, more authentic, more integrated, and by living this way, we increase the likelihood that the human species will survive.
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