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Subud Vision - Feedback

Stefan Freedman - Handling Hot Issues

Why we shouldn't categorise. From Sahlan Diver, July 8, 2007. Time 23:30

Stefan,

While applauding most of what you say in this article, there is one passage where I must take issue with you, and that is your categorisation of "conservers" and "progressives". In fact I would say that categorising, as practised by many Subud members, is a fundamental cause of the problems the rest of your article correctly tries to address.

An example. If I compare my opinions against some of my fellow Subud Vision editors I would say that, regarding the kejiwaan side of Subud, I am a conserver. I don't agree, for example, with the idea that we would be better off without the helper system. On the other hand when it comes to ideas on revamping our organisational structures I am very much the progressive. So how would we categorise our editors? Who are the progressives and who are the conservers among us? The answer is that this is the wrong question: thinking people are not conservers or progressives per se - they may take either a conservative or a progressive position, dependng on the issue. The correct process is that one aims to try to reach the right conclusion, regardless of whether it happens to be a conservative or progessive one.

Your categorisation, although, I believe, wrong, is well-intended and therefore not detrimental. A more insidious categorisation occurs when Subud members shut themselves away from considering any proposition that might be to Subud's benefit on the grounds that a criticiser is just someone "who is going through something" or, as a long-time Subud member recently stated to me in an email, "any criticiser of Subud must in reality only be dealing with their own personal issues"

Ironic isn't it that Subud members exhibit all these wonderful feeling towards each other at gatherings, make big speeches about the importance of harmony, and so on, yet when it comes down to the basic reality of harmony, which must be founded on respect for the other person and what they have to say, we seem to be particularly clueless. In fact, by categorising anyone with a critical opinion as just showing a lack of spiritual development we are exhibiting all the self-satisfied righteousness of the worst kind of religious zealot. Who said Subud wasn't like a religion?

From stefan freedman, July 11, 2007. Time 8:45

Thanks for responding, Sahlan.

If I was pigeonholing people then I fell into the trap of generalisation, and am glad to be corrected! Like you, I find myself in both "conserver" and "progressive" roles on different Subud matters. There's so much about Subud that I delight in and treasure, as well as things that I perceive as "stuck".

In inviting Subud people to discuss things openly I was aiming to add one heartfelt request: that whether protecting what we value or advocating change on any particular issue we listen to each other with empathy and keep sight of our common ground. We all treasure the latihan.

The discouraging instances you mention are not rare, and show how easy it is for a person identifying with the status quo to "put down" a person who is suggesting improvements. This applies in many organisations and stifles feedback. What's lacking here is respect! Respect fosters feedback and dialogue so that hot issues can be addressed, rather than avoided.

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