Holistic Support Groups: A Global Network

Holistic Support Groups: A Global Network
By Wade Lee Hudson

Imagine. Throughout the world, small groups meet monthly to support each other with evolutionary, compassionate, holistic transformation — steady personal, social and political growth. This network includes book clubs, political action committees, informal groups of friends and relatives, and other associations that engage in many different kinds of activities. 

Each of these groups have in common:

  • They endorse a brief statement of principles that commits members to:

    • promote compassionate community throughout society and in their daily lives;

    • recognize the essential equal value of every individual;

    • encourage co-equal partnerships; 

    • repair unfair power imbalances;

    • eliminate discrimination based on social identities such as race, class, and gender;

    • establish policies that correct the historic injustice and restricted opportunities that have been imposed on particular groups due to their social identity;

    • avoid oppressive behavior prompted by unconscious bias;

    • nurture self-empowerment and community empowerment, and;

    • assure that everyone can make ends meet and live full, productive, creative lives.

  • They open their meetings with a minute of silence to allow members to meditate, pray, reflect, or relax.

  • Each member then “checks in” with a brief, confidential report on their recent efforts to:  1) become a better person; 2) build community, and; 3) improve public policy.

  • Following these “check ins,” the groups proceed with their other activities, whatever they may be.

  • Each individual defines their own self-development goals.

  • Each group is self-regulating and self-perpetuating, with each member having an equal voice in how the group operates. The network encourages groups to avoid always meeting in the same member’s home.

  • Representative members meet occasionally in regional, national, and international gatherings to report on their activities, share ideas, and support one another.

The network’s statement of principles affirms that personal, social, and political change are each important and can reinforce one another in promoting fundamental, holistic, compassionate change. Concerning the personal, the statement supports those who are dedicated to “spiritual” development, though some members may not use that language. (“Personal” refers to “one's private life, relationships, and emotions.” “Spirit” refers to “the nonphysical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character.”) Concerning the social, the statement affirms compassionate change throughout society, including informal social interactions, informal institutions such as the family, and formal institutions including schools, religious communities, the media, the entertainment industry, and the economy. Concerning the political, the statement encourages compassionate improvements in public policy at all levels of government and the expansion of popular, democratic power that respects minority rights.

The network was initiated by a person of color, which helped to maximize the participation of persons of color as the project developed. The initiator invited one or more colleagues to work together to draft the founding principles and develop the network.