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
You would think that the whole world would be talking every day, all day about the threat to life itself on this planet due to decades of delay in addressing the climate crisis. Here in Eugene, Oregon at this point one would think our very progressive community would be discussing this topic all the time.
So why is there such silence?
Last week, our local weekly newspaper printed a little letter from me about the silence in our community regarding the climate crisis, a copy of the text is below.
Each of us individually can and must break the silence about climate chaos, or what I call climate silence.
Earlier this month the Paris climate meeting ended and we heard some mixed messages about the progress the resulted.
As the poet Dylan Thomas said:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
… Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Below is my letter to the editor (12/17/15) summing up my own activism on our climate chaos:
OUR CHAMBER IS SILENT
COP 21 in Paris focused on what is most certain about climate change, such as the amount of sea-level rise. I am most concerned about uncertain disasters, such as positive runaway feedback loops, like methane release. We might hit a tipping point that could result in a chaotic Russian roulette with our planet. With such a worst-case scenario a possibility, our local response is far too silent.
For several years I have helped a campaign by the well-respected national group, 350.org. They ask local businesses to say that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not speak for them! Our local Eugene Area Chamber is actually independent from the U.S. Chamber, but unfortunately, after years of emails, visits and publicity, their leadership has stayed silent about global warming and refuses to put out a simple statement that the U.S. Chamber does not speak for them! Only about 56 local chambers, out of thousands, have spoken up.
Approaching friendly local businesses to talk about this issue is a good test of our nonviolence, compassion and civility. For example, several of us have communicated and visited with Ninkasi Brewing Company, whose Chief Financial Officer Nigel Francisco is the chair-elect for the Eugene Area Chamber. The Chamber’s website has a convenient business directory so that anyone can easily see if their favorite businesses are members. Eugene Weekly is a member.
Two of the leaders who went to the event at Ninkasi have commented about why this action is important:
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is very actively fighting attempts to take real climate action, so one of the ways that local chambers and their members can make a difference is to publicly distance themselves from the national chamber, and commit themselves to the changes needed for us all to survive and thrive. This should not be a difficult choice to make – people lives are at stake!” — John Abbe, Great March for Climate Action (LA to DC, 2014), Hike the Pipe (here in southern OR. 2015)
“It’s really rare when the consequences of speaking up, or not, are this dire. So for the sake of our children and grandchildren, who will need a stable planet to live on, let’s speak up before it’s too late!” — Ron Unger, mental health counselor and activist, please see his blog here.
The World Health Organization (WHO), based in Switzerland, has a project Mental Health Innovation Network that is publishing brief online blog entries to promote “dignity” of mental health system users and psychiatric survivors.
Below is the blog by me that MHIN distributed, in which I looked back on four decades in The Mad Movement:
Psychiatric Survivor Story: 40 Years Witnessing Mental Health User Dignity
To mark this year’s WMHD, the Mental Health Innovation Network is running a month long series (#WMHD2015 Blog Series) highlighting dignity in four areas of global mental health where dignity is most often compromised and/or redeemed. This week’s subtheme is “Service User Advocacy”.
Share this blog on social media using the hashtag #WMHD2015 and our Twitter handle (@mhinnovation), and join the conversation by commenting below.
David Oaks is a service user advocate with over 40 years of experience in the field of mental health human rights. He is also the former Director of MindFreedom International. Contact him through Twitter or visit his website: https://www.davidwoaks.com
Last month I turned 60-years-old. Thankfully about 16 good friends, including my loving amazing wife Debra, made this transition fun. We gathered around a big table in a Sushi bar, drank Sake and ate chocolate cake.
This little party was very different from when I was 20, forty years ago, back in college. That is the year that I began to experience difficulties in my life that led to five stays in psychiatric institutions. About a dozen psychiatrists would diagnose me as psychotic, schizophrenic, clinically depressed, and bipolar (then called manic depression). More than once I would find myself in a solitary confinement room with just a bare mattress on the floor for a few days. More than once, about five staff would hold me down and forcibly inject me with a powerful psychiatric drug.
In my senior year, a college volunteer agency placed me as an intern for a mental health service user advocacy group. I wrote about this work for school, and this internship became my career for the next four decades. I have had the unique honor of watching thousands of other psychiatric survivors go through extreme and overwhelming states of mind, supporting one another as loving and equal peers, and thriving through the power of their human spirits.
Because of what many of us call “The Mad Movement” I have met with mental health consumer/user leaders in nine countries, poor and rich, who with allies in the mental health and legal communities, have reached out over and over again to anyone who would listen. While the details and exact perspectives of these service users are very diverse, I have heard some of these themes during my 40-year story:
1. Never giving up on reaching out for dialogue with mental health professionals.
In my own country, the USA, as well as many other countries, and internationally, I have seen psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers/users pull together and ask to have reasonable discussions with organizations representing psychiatrists and psychologists. Despite extreme human rights violations, including atrocities such as forced electroshock, unfair lock-ups for years, four-point and five-point restraints for days, etc., survivors have shown incredible self-discipline and resilience by successfully reaching out for dialogue with professionals.
Unfortunately, with some heartening exceptions, I have seen this outreach by consumers/users flatly ignored by national and global mental health professional organizations. Of course, only a percentage of mental health professionals engage in human rights violations. However, every single mental health professional has personal responsibility to make sure that groups representing them address human rights issues. I have had the pleasure of making friends with dozens of psychiatrists and psychologists who are concerned about our empowerment. But groups representing mental health professionals have been almost universally silent, from regional leaders to the top leaders.
2. Questioning the language that is used about us.
After attending hundreds of meetings of people who have personally experienced mental health care, it seems that many of our gatherings begin with a discussion about language. Some people might get a little frustrated because there does not seem to be any perfect words to describe us. However, this is not about “political correctness.” Instead, imperfect though this effort to redefine ourselves may be, our people are seeking their own empowerment and a first step is to address word issues.
People might accept or reject psychiatric diagnoses about themselves. People might accept or reject words the public assigns us. But we can have influence over the words we use for ourselves.
Are we psychiatric survivors? Mental health consumers? Service users? That is up to us to decide. In the meantime, how about we stop calling each other things like “normal” or “mentally ill.” Describing each other with unscientific, vague, disparaging labels can hurt our mental wellbeing.
3. We are the 100%!
One of the most effective ways to rob a group of their dignity is to segregate them and treat them unequally. As other advocates have shown, it is wonderful to celebrate differences between people in terms of color, culture, gender, background, etc. However, when differences are exaggerated irrationally and become walls, oppression can win.
The most difficult and the most valuable insight I have gotten from my four decades in The Mad Movement is that every human being, from womb to tomb, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, always wrestles with overwhelming, life-threatening mental and emotional challenges. Yes, we are all different. However, as the climate crisis is showing us all more each day, to be human is to deal with recovery from the mysterious, unknown difficulties of our minds.
In the wake of yet another national uproar about a mass shooting, much of the public once again turns its eye towards supposed mental health reform as the solution to the atrocity of acts of gun violence carried out in public spaces by primarily young, white men. The issue of gun control has soared back up to the top of concerns being addressed by presidential candidates, and national discourse has fallen back into its routine, polarized stances. The Republican leadership continues to suggest that gun control is not the solution — there must be something wrong with “those people’s” brains.
Leading Black mental health reform activists are warning us that the simplistic approach of more involuntary psychiatric drugging is inherently racist. To address the spiritual illness of violence in America we must confront the reality of racism in our media, institutions and lives.
Forced Psychiatric Drugging is Racist
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) is proposing a huge and complex bill that would, among other disasters, expand what he calls “Assisted Outpatient Therapy.” Mental health rights advocates more accurately refer to these methods as Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC). IOC is court-ordered psychiatric drugging of people in their own homes, out in the community. Murphy’s bill has been widely criticized as an expansion of a system that forcibly drugs people and leaves them to their own devices with little or no meaningful support.
Following the clearly racially-motivated mass murder of nine members of an all-Black congregation in Charleston, North Carolina, Yvonne Smith, a leading Washington D.C. African American psychiatric reform activist commented, “One of the premises I hate about the Murphy bill is that all bad things can be explained by ‘mental illness.’ Racism is an act that hurts and destroys. More than five decades ago when four little girls were killed in a church no one questioned if it was a illness. Sometimes evil just occurs. Sometimes, actually, it’s fueled by the likes of a Murphy or a Rush Limbaugh. I doubt seriously if they will use last week’s tragedy to fuel their evil plans because it would then suggest that racism is in need of a remedy.”
Mass Shootings are a Racial Issue
When white men kill people some people decide there must be something wrong with their brain, because no normal white person would ever had reason to commit such acts. When Black men kill people, we often talk about Black-on-Black crime, gang violence, violence against white women, or mostly we just stay silent. When Arabs commit such acts they are labeled terrorists and no further questioning is needed about why someone would do such a thing. Historically, our mental institutions primarily served white people, who were considered able to reach higher levels of civilization than colonized and enslaved peoples. In other words, white minds are considered worth fixing.
Murphy’s Bill (Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 2646) opens with the following statement: “Mental illness does not discriminate based on age, class or ethnicity.” While that may be true (though let us avoid use of the term mental illness), it cannot be denied that mental health care does in fact discriminate based on race. Within circles working in opposition to this destructive bill there is little discussion of its inherent racism. We need to bring to the light the realities of psychiatric racism and the potential for Murphy’s Bill to dramatically exacerbate this historically entrenched reality. Yvonne Smith expressed her distress at the predominantly white movement for psychiatric justice: “Just wondering, am I the only African American person against the Murphy Bill? Sure seems like it!”
There are other African American women speaking out against the Murphy Bill. Vanessa Jackson, an activist/soul doula/therapist working her magic in Atlanta, Georgia says, “It is very important to stress the way that these laws disproportionately impact people of color. Getting swooped up for behavior unbecoming Black people is a well-established tradition in the mental health field. It is another way to police black bodies without addressing the external factors — racism, economic inequity, violence, lack of affordable housing and continuous traumatic stress disorder — which contribute to our emotional distress.” (You can learn more about Vanessa’s work at www.healingcircles.org)
Celia Brown, President of the MindFreedom International Board of Directors says, “In Solidarity with #blacklivesmatter: African-Americans experience emotional distress, trauma and psychiatric oppression due to institutional racism. As a psychiatric survivor and African-American woman, I understand that African-Americans live daily with the threat or experience of psychiatric profiling, racial profiling, losing our lives due to police brutality, mass incarceration, poverty, involuntary psychiatric treatment, harmful mental health practices and psychiatric drugging. Racism chips away at the emotional well-being of the African-American community.”
In the United States, prisons are serving as de facto “treatment” facilities that warehouse and exploit the labor of a population that is disproportionately black and working class. Today, women are the fastest growing population of people being imprisoned. Historically, men have been incarcerated and women have been institutionalized in equally violent insane asylums. As the racist prison-industrial complex expands, so does the mistreatment of people experiencing mental and emotional duress. In fact, the system is designed to silence and invisibilize people that we, collectively, deem problems that we cannot solve.
Murphy suggests that his bill is a solution to the issue of people diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder or experiencing mental and emotional distress in prison, but we know that “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” is not a good solution. In reality, it is court-ordered Involuntary Outpatient Commitment. It’s just one more tactic of surveillance, control and domination — the newest manifestation of the insane asylum, the penitentiary, the private prison. In response to H.R. 3717, the original bill proposed, the Bazelon Center says, “Rep. Tim Murphy’s (R-PA) mental health legislation flies in the face of the federal government’s efforts to promote community integration, and would send mental health systems decades backward. H.R. 3717 would destroy the main system of legal representation for Americans with psychiatric disabilities, would strip away privacy rights, would incentivize needless hospitalization and civil rights violations, and would redirect federal funds from effective, voluntary community services to high-cost, forced treatment, including involuntary outpatient commitment.”
Murphy’s bill is part of the story of centuries of racism and psychiatry unfolding in the United States.
Here is a very, very, very incomplete history of racism, psychiatry, and the USA:
1792: Benjamin Rush, largely referred to as “the father of American psychiatry,” argued that the “color” and “figure” of African-Americans were derived from a form of leprosy, and he argued that with proper treatment, they could be cured and become white. Rush used the term “negritude,” popular at the time, to refer to the disease of blackness.
1851: Drapetomania was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright that caused black slaves to flee captivity.
1961: Black activist, musician and lawyer, Paul Robeson, is administered electroshock and excessive doses of multiple barbiturates with no psychotherapy.
1967: Mark, Sweet and Ervin argue that brain disease plays a role in African American political resistance and suggest that lobotomy may be a solution to rioting.
1984: Reagan admits to CIA involvement in the Introduction of crack cocaine to LA. (See the 2015 documentary Freeway: Crack in the System.)
Late 1980’s: Nina Simone is given the label “bipolar,” institutionalized and administered forced, unauthorized drugging.
1992: The Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration unleashed its “violence initiative,” which sought a genetic basis for criminal behavior. ADAMHA director Frederick Goodwin compared the “high-impact inner city” to a jungle and its youth to rhesus monkeys who only want to kill one another, have sex and reproduce. By focusing on “biologically vulnerable” youth for psychiatric interventions, including drug treatments, the initiative was essentially depoliticizing as it de-emphasized social explanations for crime.
1994: NAACP speaks out about the fact that minority boys are 11 times more likely than the general student population to be administered mind-altering drugs.
2005: One of the main statistical reports about involuntary psychiatric drugging using court orders for people living at home out living in the community was published this year by New York State. The data reveals that African Americans are far more likely be on the receiving end of such outpatient forced drugging. The report stated that, “The racial and ethnic composition of the population receiving court-ordered treatment is diverse: 42% of AOT recipients are Black, 34% are White and 21% are Hispanic.”
(For a more elaborate history, see page 5 of the report linked in the resource list below.)
So-called “mentally ill” people are not our greatest dangers
Once again, more gun violence is in the spotlight in the USA. At first, it would seem to make sense to think that mental health has the answer. But as Dan Fisher, MD, PhD, and Director of Emotional CPR at the National Empowerment Center points out, “Rep. Timothy Murphy has proposed legislation, HR 2646, which would increase forced psychiatric treatment in our own homes out in the community, and institutionalization of persons with mental health conditions. This legislation is based on the false premise that persons with mental health conditions are more likely to carry out gun violence than the general population. In fact, persons with mental health conditions only account for 4% of gun related homicides and yet account for 20% of the population.”
The solution to gun violence that we are hearing is often from people who call for small government. However, forcing people in their own homes to take powerful psychiatric may be one of the worst examples of government gone out of control. Incredibly, there are two examples from Minnesota where court orders for psychiatric care have meant that individuals living at home have been required to report to a nearby hospital to receive forced outpatient electroshock against their wills: Ray Sandford and Elizabeth Ellis.
Murphy’s Bill would make people’s bedrooms into cells and would make their homes into wards. Can you imagine turning psychiatrists into parole officers?
This debate about mental health may seem theoretical, but it can have real life consequences in families’ lives that can lead to a great deal of suffering. One of the mothers of a psychiatric survivor to speak out is an African American woman, Cindi Fisher.
She described having her son receive forced psychiatric drugging for almost two decades, rather than real help: “Following the overdosing, within eight months, after stopping and starting the psychotic drug, over and over again in an attempt to relieve his torment and agony, he experienced a medical crisis and made a desperate attempt to get someone to call 9-1-1. This act was criminalized and was the beginning of a 19-year vicious cycle of being drugged and criminalized, jailed or forced hospitalized, released into the community without real treatment, and criminalized and drugged again. These treatments have caused a significant decline in his cognitive functioning; a loss of his love of music, and dancing, as well as made him an insulin dependent diabetic; dependent on high blood pressure medication and caused a critically enlarged growth on his thyroid gland.”
Take action to stop the racist Murphy bill!
We ought to all take action against the Murphy bill, which is getting many sponsors in Congress. Please ask US Representatives to send some questions to Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) about his bill H.R. 2646. This is called a “constituent inquiry” and is done frequently; the other congressperson often feels like they need to respond. Here are some questions you can ask:
How many Americans do you feel should be court ordered to receive psychiatric care?
How many more Americans would receive involuntary psychiatric procedures under your bill?
Would involuntary psychiatric drugs, and even occasional electroshock, be court ordered to Americans living in their own home out in the community under your bill?
Have you engaged in dialogue with the major groups representing USA mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors that are all opposed to your bill?
How will you address the disproportionate impact that your bill will have on People of Color?
In addition to talking to your representative, we also encourage you to check out and contribute to the conversation happening on Twitter at #BlackLivesMatter
We say, #BlackLivesMatter! Spread the word.
Resources to Stop the Murphy Bill and Connect with the Mad Movement:
One of the main groups to fight Murphy’s bill is an alliance of groups run by mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors, the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. You may see their website for links about the bill and how to reach USA Congresspeople: http://www.ncmhr.org/
MLK said that the world is in dire need of an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. Here is a Facebook group for the IAACM: https://www.facebook.com/IAACM
Whether you live inside or outside the USA, the Murphy bill raises international human rights issues. Please ask the World Health Organization to oppose and investigate this threat: http://www.who.int/about/contact_form/en/
This note is to provide acknowledge and thanks to Adrienne Bovee who worked so hard on this entry for months. Adrienne is truly a powerful, young, courageous worker for justice in prison, psychiatric, race and many other issues!
If you live on Earth and breathe, then you must overthrow what is mistakenly called “normal” and the mental health industry. Why?
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!
Please feel free to post a selfie of you sticking out your tongue (known as a Qsign face) to Facebook, Twitter, or both. Please add the hashtag #qsigncrisis to whatever you post wherever. If you post to Facebook, please add your selfie to my Timeline! (If you are not yet a friend, please email me with your Facebook name at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
You are invited to take a selfie doing a “Qsign,” which I will explain in a moment. But first I need to beg for your help, especially if you are one of these young whippersnappers. You see, this week, September 16th, I will turn 60 years old, and I have never been able to start something online that goes viral.
A few weeks ago, I developed pneumonia. My wife and I had to wait in the emergency room for six hours to get an x-ray. To pass the time and show our frustration in a fun way, we stuck out our tongues to the side and took this photo. Later, a person who worked for many years as an ER nurse told us that we showed an actual face that they watch for in the ER as a sign of distress. The face is called the “Qsign” because the tongue sticks out at an angle, which kind of looks like a Q.
So I would like to ask you to take a selfie of you and maybe your loved ones, doing a Qsign. Why?
The planet is one big emergency room, but our leaders are ignoring things like the climate crisis. The least we can do is all show our Qsigns, and maybe that will get our leaders’ attention?
Hey, I am about to enter my 60’s, and I have spent decades working for human rights in disability, specifically mental health. Come on, show your appreciation, dammit!
You can post your photo on Twitter like we did using the new hashtag #qsigncrisis
I actually went viral by having pneumonia which I have recovered from. Now I am simply asking you to metaphorically go viral, which sounds a lot healthier. If you want to read about my pneumonia, go here.
Showing your Qsign just is not normal! Since what is mistakenly called normal has some of the worst behavior ever to visit Earth, then your Qsign is a blessing!
A group of us had a little contest to see who could make the best Qsign and my friend Dale won. Maybe this contest will go global and be the start of a game that will save the world. I have a name for this: Ultimate Wacko!
Today a documentary about 10 ½ minutes long, by my good friend David Zupan, airs on statewide TV and you can see it online for free, details below.
You can see:
Me tear up my psychiatric label “psychotic”
Martin Luther King call for us all to be “creatively maladjusted”
A re-creation of my big fall that broke my neck
What screwing up your vocal chords can sound like
Support from my amazing wife and community
Us protest for global revolution because of climate crisis
Yes, making revolution visible now all over Earth is a great way to be creatively maladjusted to global warming, and this documentary shows that if I can do it, then so can you!
Here is an actual movie-trailer about one minute long for this documentary:
Producer David Zupan said, “Creatively Maladjusted shows how human rights activist David Oaks and his wife, Debra Nunez, creatively respond to tough realities with the help of courage, community and humor.” The piece will be shown on the Oregon Lens series. (Please see the next page of this blog entry for the links to the 10 and a half minute documentary.)(more…)
A Free, Easy Poster You Can Download & Post in Your Home, Today
A radio personality distorted and verbally attacked the work of Associate Professor Kari Norgaard, a world-acclaimed expert on global warming denial, then kept a transcript of this falsehood-filled show on his website for the past three years, where it still lingers to this day.
His show called Kari a “Wacko.” Rather than dwell on his incivility, here’s something fun, free, and positive we did and you can do, too!
You may print out a simple poster so that your family’s support for a “Revolution,” as Pope Francis has encouraged, is undeniable. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but that is no coincidence! Prof. Norgaard points out that denial of climate crisis is a collective act by us all. One antidote is to make our resistance visible. Talk about this in your daily conversations!
You can also just click and print out this one-page, black-and-white, 8.5 x 11 inch poster:
You or a child may color it if you choose. Post this by your door or some other place people will see it. While a poster may not win a revolution, at least a reasonable person would agree your home is in a revolution, now!
Why Break the Silence?
I often hear some of these metaphors used about humanity today:
Our combined ability to think and act are paralyzed.
We the public seem suicidal.
We are addicted to oil and consumerism.
We are blind to alternatives.
We are deaf to the cries of the poor and planet.
We hallucinate, such as believing that money and technology are more important than our values.
Paralyzed suicidal addicted blind deaf hallucinating. Sure sounds like a disability to me. So maybe the social change movement led by people considered disabled have something to offer now? We, one of largest movements on Earth, are not all about curb cuts! (Please read the rest of this post on the next page.) (more…)