‘I love the word conspiracy. It comes from the Latin “conspirare” which means to breath the spirit together. What is the spirit we are breathing together here today?
It is a spirit of hope. Both individually and collectively we have refused to succumb to the images of despair that so often are associated with mental illness.
We are a conspiracy of hope and we are pressing back against the strong tide of oppression which for centuries has been the legacy of those of us who are labeled with mental illness. We are refusing to reduce human beings to illnesses.
We recognize that within each one of us there is a person and that, as people, we share a common humanity with those who have been diagnosed with mental illness.
We are here to witness that people who have been diagnosed with mental illness are not things, are not objects to be acted upon, are not animals or subhuman life forms.
We share in the certainty that people labeled with mental illness are first and above all, human beings. Our lives are precious and are of infinite value.
And as we progress through this conference we will be learning that those of us with psychiatric disabilities can become experts in our own self care, can regain control over our lives, and can be responsible for our own individual journey of recovery.
And finally, as the sea rose teaches us, we are learning that the environment around people must change if we are to be expected to grow into the fullness of the person who, like a small seed, is waiting to emerge from within each of us.
If we plant a seed in a desert and it fails to grow, do we ask, “What is wrong with the seed?” No.
The real conspiracy lays in this: to look at the environment around the seed and to ask, “What must change in this environment such that the seed can grow?”
The real conspiracy that we are participating in here today is to stop saying what’s wrong with psychiatric survivors and to start asking: “How do we create hope filled, humanized environments and relationships in which people can grow?”‘