The Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, Register-Guard daily newspaper ran a huge piece by journalist Randi Bjornstad about me, my fall, my broken neck, activism, our supportive community, changing the mental health system, and even the Chamber of Commerce protest on climate crisis. There are two great photos by professional photographer Paul Carter, plus how to give to my irrevocable trust fund.
Below is an announcement from wonderful supporters who are planning a national fundraiser about the same time and place as Alternatives 2013 Conference (totally separate, of course). Please spread the word, and if possible attend:
Support David Oaks’ Independent Living
Sponsored by Friends of David Oaks
The Friends of David Oaks Committee invites participants from Alternatives 2013 in Austin, Texas to a fundraiser dinner to support David to obtain a wheelchair accessible van. David Oaks is the former Director of MindFreedom International. He has given 30 years of his life to activism and fighting for human rights in the mental health system. Let’s give back to him in his time of need!
(scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the Feb. 17th video) Read the latest updates about David in his current location: Craig Hospital in Englewood Colorado. Cards and letters are welcome! Send them to: David W. Oaks, c/o Craig Hospital / 3425 S. Clarkson St., Englewood, CO / 80113
A new message created by David W. Oaks from his hospital bed in Springfield, Oregon… David W. Oaks Personal Message to the World; “Cracking the nut of normality” Christmas Day 2012 (davidwoaks.com)
Dear Friends, family, colleagues, and supporters,
After 4 decades as a psychiatric survivor human rights activist and 3 decades with spinal arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), that fused my spine into peanut brittle, I knew I needed a break. The break that I got about 3 weeks ago was not the one I expected. I slipped off a wet ladder in my writer’s studio, and it resulted in a complete break of my neck.
The silver lining in this event has been witnessing the love between us all. I’m overwhelmed by the cards and offers of support for me, for my wife, my fabulous darling Debra, for my family, for MindFreedom, for USICD, OCSC, Opal network and for our movement for nonviolent global revolution.
I love you all so much from the core of my heart. I hope that every single one of you can feel that heat!
With my whole heart and soul, I give thanks for Earth’s free bounty shared w/ all my relations. The word origin for “thanks,” is simply “to think,” and a Native American sign language for thinking is to point to one’s own chest. Truly my heart is thinking of you all. Thank you!
I’m laying here in a special rotating hospital bed with my good friend, Rev. Phil Schulman, using a special trache tube to talk for a few minutes. To finish this letter we are using a word board based on cryptography designed for me by my computer genius brother Tony. Here at Sacred Heart Hospital River Bend I’ve been cared for by an amazing medical team of skilled and compassionate healers. They seem like they are from NASA and as friendly as a next door neighbor.
A few days after hearing that crack of my neck, I laid in a hospital bed here, and I knew that I must find a creative maladjustment. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. many times called for an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. I’m requesting your leadership in launching the first annual Creative Maladjustment Week, July 7-14, 2013 with Patch Adams MD. It may be a way to recover from a broken planetary ecosystem, as well as neck, heart and anything else. Let us finally hear the crack of the nut of normality.
During long nights in this hospital, I have been emboldened by the spirit of Justin Dart Jr., considered to be the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act. His heart radiates into mine. I hear the words he so often echoed: “I love you, Lead On!” He knew that absolutely each one of us who join in this movement for human rights and dignity is a leader.
I cherish being connected to him, and to all of you. It has been my great fortune to have 38 beautiful years in this movement so far without direct funding from the government or mental health industry. Many of us speak out freely and organize for human rights in mental health. Some of us work to change the system from within. Together inside and outside, we are an emergent force of nature, a creative maladjustment to oppression. We are leading humanity into a sustainable way to live on this planet that includes caring and listening to marginalized people.
Many of you have expressed concern for Debra and me, that we will continue to have the financial resources for quality of life and access to full medical care. Below you will find a short note from my brother Tony providing a means for contributions. Thank you, all of you for personal support as well as participation in this movement.
Gratefully in support,
David W. Oaks
Information from David’s brother Tony Oaks about how you can help David:
Through Debra’s job at the Eugene Public Library, Dave has access to health insurance. Given the catastrophic nature of his injury, we expect that eventually his coverage will be maxed out and Dave will switch to medicaid. In order to ensure Dave gets access to the things which may be necessary and yet not covered by insurance or medicaid, my mom, Violet, worked with a local attorney (Mark Williams) to establish a Irrevocable Special Needs Trust for David.
If you would like to contribute to that fund please make your checks payable to: “David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust” and mail your checks to this address:
David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust c/o Chase 1100 Williamette St. Eugene OR 97401 USA
Note: your contribution to this fund, while a gift, is not tax deductible and, of course, it is not refundable.
There we were on 14 July 2012, walking down the winding path of the Oregon Country Fair, where tens of thousands every July have filled crowded paths through a woods full of music, crafts and food booths, lovingly stewarding the spirit of the 60’s since 1969. I was ushering Patch with a bullhorn, calling out, “Here comes Patch Adams, to accept an award for lunacy promotion!”
Dr. Adams was in his clown regalia for the walk: Pants pulled up to his armpits, strange grimace on his face, holding a big fake fish in front of his face to help motivate himself for his slow strange walk.
For those too young to know, Patch is a psychiatric survivor, physician and clown, who was the subject of an Academy Award winning film named after him and inspired by his life, starring comedian Robin Williams. Patch is the most famous leader in our MindFreedom International community, and has a network of thousands who seek truly deep change throughout our health care system.
Patch and I were headed down the Oregon Country Fair path to a gathering to give Patch an award (see photo on left) for his leadership of a vision created by Martin Luther King, Jr. that few people seem to have heard about:
MLK, in many speeches and essays, said the world may be in dire need of a new organization that MLK called, “The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment” or IAACM. It was an laugh-line, but like many good jokes had logic and truth behind it. MLK said we all ought to be maladjusted to oppression, the question is can we be creative in our maladjustment, rather than self-destructive? Repeatedly, MLK said in a variety of ways, “the salvation of the world lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”
Well, in Patch’s hands that day was a fish.
Accompanying us on our walk through the Oregon Country Fair was Patch’s main leader for changing the mental health system, Carl Hammerschlag, a psychiatrist/author from Arizona. Carl called out occasionally on the path, “How many six-foot-six psychiatrists do you see in a pink ballerina outfit?” Because that is what Carl was wearing from head to foot, tutu included.
Does this kind of positive celebration of mental and emotional differences necessarily mean opposing rationality? As a leader for 36 years in what is often called the “mad movement,” I know some seem to assume that we are largely celebrating illogic and irrationality. I do not agree.
As a psychiatric survivor who has been through five institutionalizations, and quite a number of diagnoses, I can tell you that one of the tools for my own recovery was the use of logic, evidence, and rationality.
Today, here is a very simple and undeniable logic to consider: What is generally called “normal” by just about any common definition, is in fact causing a climate crisis, and countless other environmental disasters. I’m not saying all that is called “normal,” is bad, just that one of the worst spiritual illnesses to ever visit our planet Earth has that name: Normal.
Throughout human history, respected thought leaders such as Socrates have said the pursuit of wisdom begins by recognizing that none of us has a grip on reality, that we all know nothing with certainty. And now, the scientific jury is back, the evidence has been rationally considered, and the logic is irrefutable: Socrates was right. What is called “normal” may be guilty of Gaia-cide, the shredding of our precious planet’s web of life.
That’s why I have been saying that the slogan of the mad movement ought to be, “We are the 100 percent.”
So yes, when Patch and Carl and I navigate a crowded path of the Oregon Country Fair, bullhorn in hand, with Patch following his fish, and Carl prancing around in his pink tutu… Yes, it may look a tiny bit irrational. But logic is one of the strands motivating us, the logic that MLK brought to us all many times when he called for the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. (IAACM).
Please take the next logical step, and ask yourself: “How can I best exercise my own leadership in the IAACM?