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
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
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Hurrah – tell it like it is love
“gun-toting militants taking over an Oregon bird sanctuary”
I like those constitution and liberty guys.
The only thing most “men” in America stand for these days is stupid football, TGI Fridays and maybe Apple-bees and occasionally cheating on their girlfriends and wives.
Hi I am a stupid American,
I care about the earth and global warming, I say it all the time. I can’t wait tile spring to goto Home Depot and load up on fertilizer, insecticide and gallons and gallons of roundup.
This year my law is going to be so great it will satisfy my constant need for admiration when all the neighbors envy me.
If the rain washes away my fertilizer, insecticide and gallons and gallons of roundup into the local water supply I will just buy more.
I can’t wait till spring.
Thanks, I try to like everyone. I do not have time at the moment for lengthy and back-and-forth on complex topics. Since I, like the vast majority of Americans, am for both gun rights and safety, this would take more than bumper sticker to discuss. I will say that some of the folks pushing hard for absolutely zero regulation, are actually for some obvious regulation. For example, many are for regulating improvised explosive devices and shoulder launched heat seeking missiles that could knock out a plane. They just want to be the ones to decide where the line should be drawn. I believe we, the people, in a democracy should decide where that line is drawn. The two words missing from “nuts for guns” tends to be the words “well regulated” in the Second Amendment which reads: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Why would anyone want to challenge Trump… just ignore him. It has been obvious since the beginning he is not going to be the nominee.
After many years reading the mainstream news I stopped and now read this: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org
For a sharper view of what is really going on in the world, I read blogs like:
Reading mainstream US news about such topics as who gets to be the new leader of the 1% and corporations is a waste of time… unless it were Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein getting elected, little real change will happen in the US political system. It’s better to try to enjoy one’s real life and ignore the corruption, ignorance and negativity emanating from Washington DC and the news organizations.
Thanks, but by the end of my blog I was precisely talking about looking at more important topics than Trump. I do think we must do a one-time good response to people who promote fascism and torture, which Trump has done. Thankfully the people in D-Day did not “ignore” Hitler, and I am only bringing this up because it is not always obvious who to ignore, I am not saying that Trump is the same as Hitler. Bottom line, is that some advise zero attention to Trump and others advise very little attention to Trump. That is does not seem like a big distinction. Frankly, I kind of wish to ignore the whole topic of choosing the amount of de-emphasis!
Thank you for all you do and for your unstoppable hope.
The problem isn’t Trump. He speaks for the people who are lost and don’t know what to do. The problem is what Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman pointed out years ago — people are not rational.
Yes, if you think about cause and effect it becomes clear that we are ruining our planet and we are also fighting needlessly with each other. The pity is, with our new technology and new ways of communicating, if we worked together we could vastly improve the lives of almost everyone.
But people are easily frightened. Their natural tendency is to protect themselves, their family and then their community before they can think about the greater good and helping people they don’t know — especially people who are different from them.
Once somebody begins to take more than their share, the race begins for everyone to grab as much as they can before its all gone. It becomes a race to the lowest common denominator. Trust disappears and fear takes over.
If things are going to change we have to find ways to reassure a critical mass of people that they will be better off. We have to restore the trust that has been lost. The world has become so interactive that we have to show that no one can “go it alone” without tearing the fabric of our society.
That’s why Bernie Sanders is calling for a “revolution,” and people are responding; more than expected. Perhaps the world is getting ready.
Whether you vote for Sanders or not, we all have to continue to attempt to show that we understand that people come from different places, and that we all need to know that a change will be helpful. We need to understand the origins of the actions of the poor, the sick and the anxious, as well as the rich, the striving, the self-promoting and the power hungry. We have to understand and reassure the angry, the lost and the confused.
Trust and understanding. It’s emotional, not rational.
Great post, David! I’ve talked about moving to Canada if Trump gets elected. That way, I wouldn’t have to deal with the wall Trump wants Mexico to build to keep Mexican’s out. Talk about absurdity. Didn’t they try that once in Berlin?
I think we all need much more political action when it comes to educating people about, and combating, global warming. Thank you for taking action.
All these politicians are playing the violence card when it comes to mental health reform, even Bernie Sanders. I think the thing he’s got most right though is the need to do something about big money in politics. Congress is a millionaires club precisely because these guys (and gals) rely on super pac funds to get into office. When politicians aren’t bought by corporate interests, communities, and the people within them, have more influence and power. When the government represents corporate CEOs, and not community members, you know we’ve got trouble.
If Bernie doesn’t make it, my relation with the 2 party system is kaput anyway. Not only do folks need more NON-COERCIVE (How’s that for an eye opener?) treatment options, they need more political options as well, or as some might put it, more partying options.
All in all, happy to join you @ “#Nuts4 Global Revolution”!
As long as I am going on the topic of the Earth let me just say I hate those new cul-de-sac neighborhoods where they wipe-out and level all the woods and all the natural stuff put in those stupid way to wide roads where the houses on stupid cul-de-sac have no front yards just thousands of square feet of cul-de-sac pavement.
All the woods and nature where I grew up has been wiped out by the stupid cul-de-sacs and vinyl siding shitty neighborhoods.
There is no reason to build that way. All those houses could easily have been built without destroying everything natural and building roads wide enough to land 747s on to service a dozen houses. Stupid stupid stupid.
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