Hello World! An American Nut Challenges Trump About Status of “Bull Goose Loony.” We Are #Nuts4 Global Revolution!

 

by David W. Oaks

Photo of about a dozen protesters.

KEZI TV covered the protest. That’s me in the power chair.

Here in Eugene, Oregon, in the middle of downtown, there is a small public square with a statue of the late author and local legend Ken Kesey. I knew Ken, famous for writing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, one of the main novels celebrating counterculture and challenging psychiatry.

I organized a small protest in Kesey Square on January 29, 2016 for two reasons: First, developers threaten commercial expansion. Second, I encouraged people to speak out against the climate silence that paralyzes the general public. Below I expand upon the speech I delivered in the middle of the eccentric  chaos.

 

Europe is laughing at us. You, the whole world, laughs at us. With Trump and Sarah Palin dominating the news, and with gun-toting militants taking over an Oregon bird sanctuary, hell, we are laughing at ourselves! We do look crazy.

I am an American nut. So I feel qualified to reply to the world about the USA’s mental health. The diagnoses I received throughout five lock-ups in psychiatric institutions back when I was a student at Harvard in the 1970’s include “psychosis”, “schizophrenia,” “bipolar,” and “depression.” Somehow, I graduated with honors anyway in 1977. Since then I have been a psychiatric survivor activist working in our little-known social change Mad Movement. I still see a psychotherapist regularly with my diagnosis of “PTSD.”

And I am thoroughly American. I grew up in the south side of Chicago. I lived on the east coast for eight years. I have close relatives down in Texas. And for the last 33 years I have lived here in Oregon.

Ken Kesey worked in a psychiatric institution in Roseburg, Oregon and this helped inform his 1962 book One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Ken had a favorite phrase in the story, “Bull goose loony,” which referred to the alpha-crazy on the ward.

We Americans are giving Donald Trump, through all the media obsession, the status of bull goose loony. I have learned during my lifetime working for human rights in mental health is that we are all a little crazy, from womb to tomb, 24/7. (I am very glad that the voters of Iowa rejected Donald Trump tonight in the presidential Iowa caucus, by coincidence the moment I finished and sent in this blog about my speech on Friday!)

Yes, Donald is nuts. But we are all nuts. The real question is, “What kind of nuts are we?”

Hey world, sometimes you want us American nuts. The good kind of nuts.

My dad was in D-Day in 1944, as Americans and Allies ran into machine gun nests on the French coast. Dad told us a story about D-Day several times. Dad arrived on the fifth day of D-Day as an MP, military police. He watched a lot of young Americans head into battle. Dad was struck by how one young man was so frightened about the war that when he pulled up his shirt, the muscle spasms in his abdomen went up and down, up and down, like the waves on the sea. World, you wanted American nuts then as they headed on roads to Berlin to take out Hitler.

In 1963 Martin Luther King gave his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” But did you know that he did not deliver his written speech that day, and it was called “Normalcy — Never Again”? That sounds a little nuts, the good kind. The world seemed to like Martin, who got his Nobel prize in 1964 in Oslo, Norway. Dr. King talked a lot about “creative maladjustment.” He often said that the world was in dire need of a new organization, the “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”

Now the world is in a tipping point toward chaos.

Positive feedback loops in this climate crisis, such as methane release, may lead to a worst case scenario, which I call “Normalgeddon.” A smarter quad than I, Stephen Hawking, said that because of the risk of runaway greenhouse effect he is worried there is a chance of boiling oceans.

Talk about explicit madness! If the word “madness” has any meaning at all, then risking all life on earth would seem to qualify.

At a time when even the Pope says that the climate demands a global revolution, Trump is a distraction from where we should be directing our attention. There are far more fascinating stories that are far more important today.

For instance, the Kogi Indians in Colombia, South America, warn us about how the “younger brothers,” as they call the West, may ruin the world. They have had villages for thousands of years, that somehow escaped European invasion and remained intact. See the absolutely-riveting 2012 documentary “Aluna” on Netflix, in which the Kogi leaders use a gold-colored thread to illustrate how all of nature is inter-connected. That is the kind of good madness that I like to see! Why have most people not been informed about the Kogi’s message?

The “butterfly effect” gives us each potential, enormous power. We need something far bigger than D-Day to save the climate, and this time we are all Ike. That is, because of the butterfly effect we are all Supreme Commanders, as crazy as that sounds.

Yes, I have many disabilities.

In 2012 I fell down and broke my neck, and now I am a quad in a powerchair. I have been here before. I remember being on the floor and feeling the paralysis coming over me, unsure if it would kill me. I looked deeply into the eyes of my darling Debra. Today, world, you seem paralyzed. I have some familiarity with paralysis.

I try to empathize with you, world, and love you all. But generally we, the world, seem spiritually sick. We seem morally paralyzed. Our collective disabilities seem far bigger than mine.

There is no assurance we will win this global revolution. But at least we can break the silence, and make it undeniable that we are seeking revolution. Yes, we are all nuts but the question is:

What kind of nuts are we?

I challenge Donald Trump to prove that he should be our bull goose loony. What are we nuts for?

I am #Nuts4 love!

I am #Nuts4 Debra!

I am #Nuts4 revolution now! Now! Now!

——————-

At the end of my speech, several of us walked the half block from Kesey Square to Summit Bank. In the bank lobby about five employees stood ready to help. I asked to speak with the bank’s President, Craig Wanichek, who also served as the chair of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce. Several times I have tried to ask Craig to speak about the US Chamber, and how they are complicit with the climate crisis. He has maintained silence and now I know why.

“Craig is right behind you,” said the employees. He was. Craig quickly walked to the door and invited us to leave. Instead I turned around and said, “I would like to open an account.” Craig came back and threatened to call the police if we did not leave. For more information about the chamber and climate, search the web for this term: Normalgeddon

You are invited to tweet what you are most mad for. Use: #nuts4 as in #nuts4life

 

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Hello World! 5 Reasons We Must Say ‘No’ to Normality & Psychiatry

Updated 21 September 2015:

If you live on Earth and breathe, then you must overthrow what is mistakenly called “normal” and the mental health industry. Why?

Jillian sticks out her tongue and holds a cat.

Homecare worker Jillian sticks out her tongue while hugging the cat, Bongo. Emergency Rooms look for this sign of distress and name it the Qsign (the tongue looks like the tail of the letter Q)!

Today, our planet is faced with an unprecedented emergency, according to the vast majority of scientists, wise people and just about everybody else. Smart folks tell us that we have the technology, smarts, and economy to address these urgent crises, but do we have the will? It seems that the general public is paralyzed, and as our leaders continue to procrastinate, we are collectively entering into the beginning of chaos.

As my friend “the real” Patch Adams, MD has explained to me for 23 years, one of the most effective ways to reach people is their sense of humor. Yes, the feature movie in 1998 about Patch is a bit syrupy-sweet, but you have to admit the power of wearing a red nose! Seriously, laughter is of course powerful. And we may need a touch of comedy to even look at the absurd reality around us now. That is why some folks are sticking out their tongues (see the photo here of Jillian for example); jokingly, maybe our leaders are waiting for us all to show some signs of distress such as the Qsign!

(rest of entry below)

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The Worst Case Scenario for Global Warming — What I Call Normalgeddon —  is Bad for Our Mental Wellness: The Chamber of Commerce Doesn’t Speak For Us!

David and Debra march in Eugene for climate justice

Sunday, September 21st, 2014, Eugene, Oregon, Debra and David (on right) beginning to march against global warming in solidarity with the event in New York City.

For four decades I have been an activist challenging the mental health industry. More and more I feel that the climate crisis should be one of the highest priorities for social change led by people who have personally experienced psychiatric abuse, and our allies. I affectionately call us The Mad Movement. It seems that almost every speaker against global warming ends their message the same way, that we can stop this catastrophe if society has the “will.” I believe that participants in The Mad Movement have an important insight into real sickness in society. As a psychiatric survivor, I have seen too much labeling of creative maladjustment as ill. We need to shake off our world’s complacency and numbness, also known as “normality.”

The beginning of 2015 marks the fifth anniversary of a little-known campaign by the well-respected environmental group 350.org that asks the approximately 7,000 local chambers of commerce in the USA to oppose the way the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington, D.C., blocks national progress in the fight to stop global warming. 350 says that, “The Chamber has long opposed environmental standards, but on climate change, they’ve gone pretty near berserk” (www.chamber.350.org).

350’s main request of local chambers seems pretty modest — to simply issue a statement saying that the US Chamber “doesn’t speak for us” in its denial of human-caused climate change. Unfortunately, despite five years of effort by activists, only 56 local chambers have distanced themselves from the U.S. Chamber about global warming. That is less than one percent! I have helped organize many actions over the past five years to ask our local Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce to say anything about climate change, but regrettably we have been met by a wall of silence.

We have tried everything from writing letters to the editor, personally corresponding with board members, performing public street theater, and protesting inside the chamber office itself. And still, no substantial moves have been made. The Eugene Area Chamber’s board members relentlessly refuse to speak up for values that they profess to have.

I am extremely concerned about the disaster of climate change because I think of it as a one-two punch. The first punch is highly predictable and linear. Almost all scientists agree on this “unequivocal” punch. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change spotlights the certainty of human-caused global warming hazards, such as sea-level rise. I am more interested in the second, surprise punch of runaway climate change, which is non-linear.

There has been a quiet revolution throughout the sciences that I like to call “the butterfly effect.” Others call this field the science of emergence, chaos, dynamic systems, or complexity. In short, when complex systems like Earth’s environment are disrupted, chaotic results can occur. Global warming may trigger amplifying, abrupt feedback effects, such as methane release as a result of warming permafrost. A little global warming may lead to an irreversible avalanche of extreme global warming. I call the worst case scenario of climate change “Normalgeddon.”

Right now, the Eugene chapter of 350.org is focusing on valuable state-wide campaigns such as blocking oil pipelines, divesting the University of Oregon Foundation from companies that profit from fossil fuels, and carbon-restrictive legislation. These campaigns are necessary, and we should rally for more support for these local efforts. We should also still support 350.org’s national campaign to get local chambers to speak out against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce president has always been responsive and civil to me personally, but he has also refused to speak out against the U.S. Chamber. He claims that the Eugene chamber is entirely independent. In a way, the Eugene community should see the Eugene Area Chamber’s refusal to speak up as a gift, because the climate crisis is no longer a faceless entity — it is embodied by our local chamber’s refusal to demand real change. Our chamber is also an actual place to peacefully protest. The chamber’s office is downtown at the corner of 14th and Willamette.

The planet’s issues are the people’s issues. Those of us who are the most marginalized and disenfranchised by existing inequality are the most vulnerable to impacts of the changing climate. All organizations fighting for people must fight for the planet, and vice versa. As a mental health and disability rights activist, connecting the issues of mental health and climate change are particularly important to me, but this work can and must be done in all realms. Please take up the leadership to nonviolently urge that the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, and its leaders, speak up about the U.S. Chamber and climate crisis.

After my wonderful wife Debra and I came home from last year’s climate march here in Eugene in solidarity with a huge New York City march, we turned to each other realizing that we had the exact same take-away message: Hope means acting from your own highest principles, without necessarily knowing what the outcome will be. I hope that the Eugene community and the board members of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce will think this through, and act on their own highest principles. After all, real mental well-being requires that we work now with a sense of urgency, unity, purpose and hope. Not only do we need a climate miracle, we need to construct our own miracle in our minds and in our communities.

 

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For more information see the David W. Oaks blog at www.normalgeddon.com.

 

 

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Your Local Chamber of Commerce and Global Warming: Can You Help?

Your Local Chamber of Commerce and Global Warming: Can You Help?

Update 4/6/2015: Craig Wanichek from Summit Bank is the newly – elected chair of the Board for Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, here in Eugene Oregon, I participated, with my wonderful wife Debra, in a local rally to support the major march in New York City for climate justice.

Everyone and every group working for mental health justice ought to make fighting global warming a priority right now. Of course, the whole disability movement, and in fact all sentient beings should be concerned about climate crisis, but those of us working for human rights and more choices for mental wellness have special reasons to make this planetary catastrophe a unifying theme for all of us.

Martin Luther King frequently talked about the importance of creative maladjustment as an answer to oppression, and many environmentalists are wondering where humanity’s creativity and maladjustment are right about now. The Mad Movement knows that the psychiatric industry has ground down the human spirit for centuries, but we never ever give up! MLK resisted the war in Vietnam toward the end of his life, and some civil rights activists were mystified that he seemed to be off topic. However, MLK knew that we are all in one big movement for the “beloved community,” as he put it.

But if you need something very specific to connect the Mad Movement to global warming, here it is: Those of us called psychotic are often coerced to take neuroleptic drugs (sometimes called antipsychotics), and these drugs are well known to suppress the temperature-regulatory part of the brain. During a heat wave, prison reformers have been talking about how horrible it is that those in non-air-conditioned prisons where people are forced to take these drugs often die. Well, most USA states have laws allowing citizens to be forcibly court-ordered to take these drugs while living at home out in the community.

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I Help Organize a Peaceful Protest About Climate Crisis at Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce

On December 5, 2013, about 5 groups united together to hold a nonviolent protest about the pivotal role of the Chamber of Commerce blocking progress addressing the climate crisis. For several years, I held an email dialogue with the director of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, Dave Hauser. This last summer several of us held a street theater event at the Eugene Saturday Market and together we nominated the local Chamber for a Golden Ostrich Award.

We used humor to point out that our local Chamber should join 56 other local Chambers that have said “No” to the horribly Earth-damaging U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. We gave the award plaque to our local Chamber just before weird lingering snowy weather in Eugene, which scientists predict will be an indicator of the climate crisis.

Below is a brief 5 minute video of our award presentation, in which I become a bit emotional. Below that is more info about our campaign.

Our Golden Ostrich Award to the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce because of the climate crisis.

Action you can take from anywhere in the world to help our campaign:

1. Please contact our local Chamber by email or phone (541-484-1314) with your peaceful, civil, but strong message. Your sample message: “Please say ‘No!’ to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the main blockades to addressing the climate crisis.”

2. For extra credit, you may contact the Eugene Chamber Board: http://www.eugenechamber.com/contact/leadership.aspx

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