Today I Hold To A Vision
“Drawing a Wider Circle”

Today record numbers of mentally ill people are housed in Americas prisons. Most with no significant access to meaningful treatment. Many are housed in SHU ( Special Housing Units) where  they remain locked in cells. They  are housed with violent inmates and gang members who prey on the mentally ill and the elderly. They are abused by inmates and untrained security staff (who expect them to be in full possession of their mental capacities). The number of abuses are staggering, the mentally ill have become a silent and suffering people. They “Exist” in prison with no voice. They are crying out to you with silent pleas for moral and humane treatment.

The mentally ill were shuffled into the prison system in the 1950’s and 1960’s by turning them out of mental institutions into the streets lost, alone and homeless. No longer receiving the necessary treatment and medications for an array of mental illnesses from depression, bi polar disorder and acute schizophrenia, they started committing low level crimes; sleeping in abandoned buildings or on the sidewalk, shoplifting food. Then alcohol and illegal drugs became their refuge in escaping the painful effects of  an untreated mental illness.

Jails and prisons became the repository for the mentally ill as a result of  economic reasoning. The cost to house a person in prison is 20 times cheaper than housing one in a mental hospital. Ultimately, cost effectiveness removed the aspect of humanity from the mentally ill.

Perilous times for the mentally ill calls for us to take action. We must suspend our preoccupation with economic reasoning to the exclusion of  all other values. We must put love into action in every sphere of life, by “Drawing A Wider Circle” of compassion, one which takes us in.

Today I dedicate my life to a vision where each and every mentally ill  person has at least one advocate, with a voice that can be heard around the world. I believe this Vision” Drawing a Wider Circle ” is a mighty,  heroic and valuable one.

Today I find it is through service to others I grow stronger. It is my unconventional beliefs on what is noble, valuable and important that allows me to move beyond fear and defensive hesitation that has held me back from full participation in life. It is through sacrificing self-intrest I  now stand before you bold and alive. I have found that courage was not something to be put on but rather fear was a garment to be cast aside.

Today I feel the power, grace and beauty of my naked-self. The pure brilliance and radiance of my being! Today I hold to a vision where all life is held sacred.

Today and every day, I must face the conditions of my mental illness and that  of my brothers and sisters. I must breath into them the breath recuperative of a sane and humane life. I will not forsake my duty to myself and others nor abandon the vision of my quest. I am committed to battle, within and without  for the rest of my life, against the notion that my life cannot make a difference. Today I have answered the hero’s call and here is where the warrior’s path begins.

A warriors non-violent aggression is necessary for this positive creative change. All aggression is not necessarily violent. Even the use of my fasting is aggressive as I hold my body hostage and threaten to destroy it unless the changes I seek are adopted.

Today I will not give into doubt or yield to it’s subtle ways. I know in my heart that  love is the greatest religion and the greatest philosophy of all. It is the guiding light  of the free spirit.

I do not wish to be seen as someone special that would turn me to a slave of approval, nor am I a nobody who works for everybody. I am ordinary with an extraordinary vision. No One-not-anyone else can take this journey for me I have chosen to travel this warrior’s path myself.

Today I stand before you, self-reliant and determined as a free spirit who will not buy into the propaganda of mediocrity. Today I stand courageous and say “NO” to the needless suffering of my fellow human beings. “NO” to becoming hypnotized and tranquilized! “NO” to becoming clay in somebody else’s hands!

Today I am being used for a purpose much larger than myself that gives impetus to rely on myself as never before. Today I ride into battle on the back of the spirit-horse creative aggression into the unknown lands of dignity, self-respect and power.

Peace & Light
Aubrey Elwood


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