Mad Memo #1
Dear Supreme Commander (You!):
Did you know you are a key leader of a global peaceful revolution? Surprise! My guess is that many of you reading this may not yet know that you are one of the “Supreme Commanders” of world revolution.
In fact, if you wish, and you reflect the values of Martin Luther King, you may say you are leading the organization that he first envisioned, the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM.)
Let me explain.
Yes, during World War II, Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander during D-Day, which was one of the biggest operations in human history. This time, we need to do something far bigger than D-Day, encompassing the whole world. You and everyone are Supreme Commanders.
So I have a question for you:
“What does it look like if humanity even begins to attempt a global revolution?”
However you stand on the USA presidential campaign, you might admire the way Bernie Sanders has talked openly and frequently about “revolution.”
I have been calling for revolution for many decades. As a young adult back in the 1970’s, I experienced forced psychiatric drugging, and so I have spent my whole life as an activist to have a revolution in the mental health system. Right now, the US Congress is moving forward a bill that could massively increase this tyrannical approach of what I would call chemical warfare. So maybe Bernie, who is after all in the US Senate and will have our attention when he speaks at the Democratic convention next month, would oppose this piece of legislation?
Unfortunately, even though several of us have tried to find out, we cannot get a reply from Bernie’s staff about his position regarding involuntary psychiatry, particularly outpatient, court-ordered forced drugging of people living in their own homes. Some surprising legislators endorse forced drugging like this. Even my own congressperson, Peter Defazio (D-OR), who is supposed to be progressive, co-sponsors this bill.
So I did a little research about Bernie and mental health issues. I read a bunch of articles, I posted questions in a variety of Facebook groups and I learned a lot.
For example, I found out that when Bernie was a young adult, and he woke up, instead of saying “good morning,” he would tell his roommate, “We’re not crazy!”
I also found out that while he was still a young adult, in later life, Bernie did a stint as a mental health worker.
In my research, I found out that Bernie was one of the celebrity speakers when our Mad Movement met in 1985, in Burlington, Vermont, for what would turn out to be the last annual meeting called “International Conference for Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression.” Before the internet, this annual grassroots gathering was how us old geezers used to keep organizing, and while I don’t know what Bernie said, the fact that he has long known about our movement’s existence is a good sign.
The reason I have been researching Bernie and mental health, is because, as I explained in a previous blog, congress is considering passing a horrible bill, the worst I have seen in my four decades of activism in the psychiatric survivor movement. Called the “Murphy Bill,” every group run by mental health consumers is opposing this absurd, huge legislation by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), that would among things, give millions of taxpayer dollars to increase the number of Americans under involuntary outpatient psychiatric drugging.
Two days ago, on June 7, 2016, a public agent that covers congress, The Hill, ran a piece about how Rep. Murphy is now moving his terrible bill forward. Yes, there are some modifications, to our great relief. However, tweaking of this bill is not enough. We must stop it.
For example, the article reports that the Murphy Bill no longer provides millions of dollars to States to increase forced outpatient drugging, but the bill gives its blessing to such forced outpatient drugging with the hope that a future session may supply the money. Specifically, the article says: “The new bill eliminates a 2 percent funding boost to states to incentivize such laws and instead authorizes new funding that will have to be appropriated later on.”
Forced psychiatry is not good for the human spirit. Right when the public needs to be creative and passionate, instead the culture seems paralyzed, in denial, complacent. Even if the risk of runaway climate change is unknown, credible scientists say that if we do not take enough action, positive feedback loops in our environment could lead to human extinction. Hey, I am one of those who says “Never Again!” Human extinction would not only wipe out everybody, but future generations too.
Even the unknown risk of what I call “Normalgeddon” should be enough for us to have a revolution.
You Say You Want a Revolution?
Bernie is not the only one calling for revolution.
Because of the climate crisis and extreme inequality, Pope Francis has promoted global revolution. It has been a little more than a year since his May 24, 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si,” where he spotlighted, “…the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution.”
Pope Francis added that, “Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.”
So how would we all know that the world is at least trying to have a revolution? I am not saying we would definitely win such a revolution, but how can it at least be visible? How can we sincerely attempt to have a revolution?
Here in Eugene, Oregon, a few of us are gathering to discuss this. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the world a little known but beautiful gift. For more than a decade, in many of his speeches and essays, MLK said that the future of the world lies in the hands of the “creatively maladjusted.” Over and over, MLK said the world was in dire need of new organization, “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”
I first heard about MLK’s concept of this IAACM back in the 1980’s. While his vision is inspiring, I think to most people this just looks like a symbolic rhetorical flourish. Or as Time Magazine once called it, “a half joke,” in other words a line that got a laugh and made a point.
But as a psychiatric survivor activist, I have always felt that there was something more valuable to this idea than humor, as important as humor is.
We know that empowerment of leaders is necessary for any organization to flourish. Some refer to a group that encourages leadership as being “horizontal.” The activist-author Mikah White, PhD, when he was one of the editors of the publication Adbusters, helped create the US phenomena known as “Occupy.” For example, Mikah issued the very first tweet beginning the protest that swept the USA and part of the world. He and others purposely did not put out their names at that time because they wanted to promote the feeling of co-ownership.
This year, Mikah has released his book called “The End of Protest,” which is based on the lessons he learned from this experiment. While of course we did not get a revolution from Occupy, Mikah and other participants sure learned a lot. I have been watching a number of talks by Mikah on Youtube, and appreciate his insights. For one thing, Mikah points out that the authorities respond to new forms of social change in a few weeks, so innovators only have a short window before the powers that be step in.
Also, Mikah wants us to get beyond the usual image of revolution where lots of us gather in the middle of cities 24/7, hold a lot of speeches, build our numbers, and somehow achieve deep change. I will not get into detail now, but Mikah believes we must now “hack elections.” This is intriguing to me, and I am tempted to follow his suggestion to run for position as a “write-in” candidate. Hmmm, maybe I want to run this November against our local congressperson, Rep. Defazio, who claims he is progressive but supports the horrible “Murphy bill.”
Mikah also of course likes horizontal organizations. However, he points out that a good group needs to be able to say “no” when someone is violating basic values. During Occupy, some individuals who were clearly breaking group guidelines could not be removed because of the wide open nature of the event.
So, learning from Occupy, how can we have an open group, encouraging leadership, but still be able to say “no” when a leader tries to take us in a direction that is against our principles?
Did You Know You Are a Leader in the IAACM?
Yes, if you choose so, you are a leader in this global gift from MLK. What do you want the world to do? As long as you follow his principles, you can visibly speak out as a leader, including as a leader of the IAACM!
Here are some of the steps we have taken to bring the IAACM more into reality, and achieve the paradox of being both horizontal and empowered:
- When I was executive director of MindFreedom International, while I loved the idea of IAACM, I was concerned that if we did activity with that name then someone, somewhere might claim ownership and try to make us stop. Therefore, in 2006, I filed an “assumed business name” for IAACM, under the stewardship of MindFreedom.
- Back in 2008, eight years ago, the physician-clown-psychiatric survivor Patch Adams, MD agreed to be the honorary “chair” of the IAACM, and during his trips to Oregon Country Fair, he has given a number of public talks and he often supports the idea of “creative maladjustment.”
- Last year, I met with a great progressive nonprofit attorney David Atkin about IAACM. David confirmed with me, that as long as MindFreedom continues to protect that concept as we intended, IAACM itself does not need a board or treasury.
- So how does a group without a treasury expend resources? One clue was earlier this Spring, because on the behalf of IAACM, we joined the GreenLane Sustainable Business Network. This local alternative to the very silent (when it comes to climate crisis) Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce was having special events about our environment and joining meant it would help if the IAACM had to have a mission, logo, etc.
- Artist-humorist-musician Isaac Paris created a logo for the IAACM showing a grinning, sweating planet. See the image on the right of this list, above.
- We also created a draft mission statement, with the advice of climate crisis activist John Abbe, who once walked across the USA to speak about this disaster. Our draft is here: “Martin Luther King, Jr. first called for creating the IAACM, and referred to this concept many times in his speeches and essays. He said, “The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” The organization was revitalized by the human rights nonprofit MindFreedom as a vehicle to encourage what MLK called “creative maladjustment,” empowering the beloved community to celebrate their differences and nonviolently resist the prevailing normality of racism, inequality, and climate destruction. If you reflect MLK’s principles, you are invited to be a leader in the IAACM, such as during Creative Maladjustment Week every July 7 to 14.”
I asked my friend Patch Adams for his advice on the question of how do we simply and gracefully extend the leadership of that IAACM vision? Specifically, I asked Patch, what are the most basic values we want to insist on for IAACM leadership?
Patch, who personally answers every letter he receives but never touches computer keyboards, quickly replied,
“A) Be true to yourself regardless of where you are or the consequences.
B) Be love and fun regardless of the environment.
C) Have fun with the beauty of the possibilities in the world maladjustment.
D) Resist greed and power over others.
E) Be radiant with love and creativity.
F) Never adjust to the wrongs of humans and nature, etc.”
I also asked Patch, what is the easiest way to extend this leadership to many others, especially youth, while protecting the legacy of this idea?
“1) Make it fun, non-hierarchical and inclusive.
2) Show by radiant example.
3) Create a communal environment where all comers delight in the experience.
4) Study lots to show your passion. Etc.”
If you live in the Eugene, Oregon area, you might want to be involved in this planning work, just email me at [email protected]. If you live elsewhere, or cannot make it to our meeting, we would love to hear your feedback.
What would the world look like if we were in a good revolution? I am not asking now about what it would look like if we “won,” though of course that would be nice. But what would things look like if we all even attempted a revolution? We would like to hear your ideas, they can be left as comments on this blog.
I know one thing already, that if we were working for a revolution, we would at least break the silence, this toxic silence that hovers around the world as temperatures climb more and more. As Congress debates increasing the forced psychiatric outpatient drugging on millions of Americans, we would at least break the toxic silence. Even though the drugs typically used for involuntary psychiatry (the neuroleptics, also called the antipsychotics) make people more sensitive to high temperatures, so there have been many fatalities during heatwaves, but we would at least break the silence about this monstrosity if we tried for revolution.
Yes, we can break the silence! And even if we do not win a revolution, making our attempt visible would be good for our human spirit.
We need something even bigger, much bigger, than D-Day. This time, everyone who cares is Ike, who was the Supreme Commander of D-Day. This time, if you so choose, you are the Supreme Commander, we all are.
So, what is your vision of even starting this revolution? What would it look like if average people began to have more of a voice in government and economics? What kind of non-normal methods would you propose to get us beyond protest? Please post your ideas in the comments here or via other social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
You are a leader in the IAACM, if you want. John Abbe has prepared a draft flyer about the IAACM. Here is the text:
Anyone can take leadership and act on behalf of the In IAACM, we just ask (more on a human basis than from whatever legal authority we have from having registered the name) that they do so in the spirit of Beloved Community, as Dr. Martin Luther King would have.
That means that we work with each other in as full community as we can, and that we hold our “enemies” in our hearts even as we call them out, ask the hard questions, when necessary make a ruckus online and out in the streets, and exercise our creative maladjustment in whatever other ways toward a truly justice world.
We are one cluster of people acting in the name of the IAACM. We believe that healing our broken systems and relationships with each other is bound up in healing our relationships with the natural world. Climate change and mental health are intimately bound up, for example – including improving culture and practices in regard to mental health & disability)
Our main home online is https://www.facebook.com/IAACM/
mindfreedom.org also has a few great IAACM pages, and MFI maintains cmweek.org for Creative Maladjustment Week (but no other funds for this year at least).
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.