My Chat with Patch Adams on Nonviolent Revolution
Last week I talked with my friend Patch Adams, MD, the hero in the movie by that name. Patch is a peaceful revolutionary in many ways, especially on the topic of medicine. Our chat turned into an interview.
Your comments here on this blog are invited. Do you support revolution? What kind?
Every time I talk with Patch I learn a bit more about nonviolent revolution, from the very first time I worked with him in 1992 when he spoke at a MindFreedom International (MFI) event.
Over the years, especially at the huge unique gathering each July, Oregon Country Fair, I have heard many stories from Patch.
For example: When Patch was a teen he would hear some people around him use the n-word in a racist way.
Patch developed this creative response: “I would scream because I was bothered by it. I was 16, 17, 18. The bullies would beat me up after school. If I screamed every time they said the word, they would eventually stop. They didn’t always stop on the first go.”
Patch reports that his creative disorder worked fairly well, and the use of the n-word around him abated a great deal. I wondered a few years ago if this same approach would work for another n-word: Normal? I tried this with my employees: We howl whenever we hear the word “normal,” and this funny method has worked.
As a tribute, we are launching this call and response as a game that I call “Howl4.” This game is very simple. When anyone says the word “normal,” you respond by howling! To paraphrase and build on a poem by Allen Ginsberg, “I have seen some of the best minds of my generation destroyed by normality.”
Last week I asked Patch about applying his innovation to the word “normal.” Our game, Howl4, might catch on. The other day I made a video about this call and response. What did Patch think of this game? Patch replied, “I would of course know nothing about ‘normal.’
Patch said that he first came up with the idea about fighting racism by making a noise because he needed a peaceful, creative way to respond to bigotry. He told me, “It’s just an encouragement to not be silent. I chose never to take violence as one of my options, so all I have is performance. ”
Patch on What he Would do to Help Save the Planet: Revolution!
“I want women in charge of everything.” I certainly would agree with Patch. I learn from my brilliant wife and about half-a-dozen wonderful female employees, as well as many female friends and relatives almost every day! (I also learn from my three male employees, who are also superb.)
Does Patch want a revolution? Of course. He said:
“How do I feel about it? I live it! Nonviolent revolution!” Patch said that nonviolence is very important to him.
“Most revolutions in history were nonviolent. I made a commitment as a teenager to never do physical violence, not even to defend my family. I just know my father died from war as a soldier and I just am not going to do it.” Yes, this is a complex topic, and I, like most people, am not a pacifist, but I find this philosophy fascinating. Plus I certainly want to try nonviolent revolution!
Patch told me, “Everyone has to make their own decision. I’m not going to hurt somebody.”
I asked Patch about some hypothetical situations that are challenging for folks who choose nonviolence, for example, instances that would lead many of us to call 911, or the military.
Patch answered, “I would use creativity and find nonviolent solutions. There is very little creativity in that world, so I think there are a huge number of things: For one, you’re asking what to do in a large nationwide solution.”
Patch on President Donald Trump:
“If the president was a ‘Love President,’ there are lots of thing a Love President could do. We’d have to have access to a lot of people and a lot of media so we could have creativity to deal with horrible situations.” Patch very much opposes the bigotry we are seeing from President Trump.
“He’s an embarrassment in just about every way, and dangerous, and thoughtless, and lying. Everyone should be worried and get more proactive.”
I have many relatives that voted against President Donald Trump. I voted for another candidate. But I have a few dear relatives who told us that they did indeed vote for President Trump. This has created a few awkward moments, and I am sure many other Americans have also had such moments. Patch told us that these are extremely challenging time:
“With whatever discomfort or anger one might have for the current election process, it is not the time to face it with anger and discontent. There never has been a time when a life in radiance and love has been more important. So let your wildest and craziest love and fun infect every environment.”
Are You On the Revolution Bus?
My friend, the late and beloved Ken Kesey, liked to say:
“Are you on the bus? Or off the bus?”
Let us be on the bus, now! I am talking about the bus of revolution, global revolution.
Most people, when I ask them, support revolution.
A few others first ask, “What kind of revolution?” Good question.
I tend to say, “A quality revolution!” I do not know exactly what to name what is required, you may call it whatever you wish. Some may want a nonviolent revolution. That is OK with me. In fact, if you look up the phrase “nonviolent revolution” in Wikipedia, you will see that MindFreedom International has long been one of the groups to officially have revolution in its mission.
I blogged a few months ago about why folks should support MFI now, and you can read this here.
Let Us Have Free Minds
And yes, I helped start MindFreedom International. Please be truthful about this, many, many folks helped start MindFreedom International. We all co-started MindFreedom. This will be a brief entry to say “Thank you, thank you, thank you! MindFreedom International community!”
For example, there is a Board of Directors of MFI. I have never been on the Board of MFI. After my neck broke about four years ago, I retired after about 25 years of having the incredible pleasure and honor of being the Executive Director. But because of severe challenges I could not continue after my accident in December 2012.
On her way to the airport for one of her many trips to her beloved Ghana, Africa a few days ago, the spectacular Celia Brown, President of the MFI Board, called me with the wonderful news that the board has decided that our Aciu Institute will be official consultants for MindFreedom International.
For those who do not know, Aciu Institute is a fairly new for-profit. “Aciu” means thank you in Lithuanian, which is my heritage. Yes, I am working with a for-profit, my first in 40 years of nonprofit work. Keep an eye on this blog and the website www.LoveEarthRevolution.com for developments.
There are millions, perhaps billions, who support nonviolent revolution, today. Let us make this “R” word more visible. There is no guarantee of success, but I know that I would feel better!
Many people, such as Patch, are thinking outside of the box, people mainstream psychiatry as tended to squash. Patch evaded a lifetime of mainstream psychiatry after his psychiatric institutionalization as a young person. Patch is a psychiatric survivor who believes that we can have good humor even when facing the difficult parts of life. The name of our for-profit was partly inspired by the name of the group Patch works with: “Gesundheit Institute.”
One can end up in an infinite loop by saying “Aciu” to someone with Patch’s group. They might respond “Gesundheit” and you might respond “Aciu.” Let me end with some humor that a super employee has given a good grade to, Grade B actually:
From Pun of the Day:
“Sir Cumference built King Arthur’s round table, and Sir Ramic Tile did the flooring.”
As I said, your feedback about this blog are welcome in the comments section below. Do you howl for revolution? How do we make this more visible?