Ray Sandford is among those who are most marginalized, and most disempowered in our society. Yet, he and his supporters have had a number of “wins” this Spring. Let’s look at the role of what Gandhi called “Satyagraha” in campaigns, or “truth force.”

In just the past few weeks, Ray has had a number of victories:
Ray’s “general guardians” who have dragged their feet and even opposed his campaign to say “no” to forced electroshock have abruptly gone to a judge and asked to “resign” from his case.

Ray’s main psychiatrist, Dr. Dean K. Knudson, who has recommended forced electroshock for months, reportedly was told by his insurance company to resign from Ray’s case, and he has put in his 30-day-notice.

A few dozen activists from four states showed up for five protests in three days for “May Day for Ray” in Minnesota, and succeeded in winning a national media story in Associated Press which, while biased, still spelled out Ray’s case to millions of people.

How has Ray and his supporters accomplished this? After all, consider some of the “power imbalance” Ray has faced:
When Ray has been in court in December 2008, in a basement court room in the bottom of a hospital, he has been horribly represented by a court-appointed legal counsel, Jon Duckstad, who did not aggressively defend Ray…

Ray has been surrounded by dozens of agencies and individuals making a huge profit on him…

Ray has been prohibited from visiting with supporters.

What Ray lost in the court of law he is apparently winning in the court of public opinion. The general public — citizens and taxpayers — do not like the idea that they are paying for multiple prolonged electroshock of a man living at home, over his wishes, and even over the wishes of his family and his retired-nurse mother.

Gandhi called this “Satyagraha,” or “truth force,” also known as “spirit force.” When people hear this term they often focus on the first word, spirit or truth. But what about the second? Just because one is nonviolent, does not mean that one is disempowered. Gandhi was no dish rag or door mat!

We’ve found something out about Ray over the months: When he was younger he was apparently a really great chess player. He said that at times he could play multiple boards at once and win, which is quite a skill.

So even though Ray had multiple forced electroshocks, he somehow figured out in October how to call a phone number provided by a librarian to reach our social change movement, via MindFreedom International.

And now Ray and his campaign are helping to teach us all about the power of Satyagraha!

Thanks Ray, and everyone. Now keep it up — Ray needs to be free of this abuse forever, and that means he needs to find long-term sustainable care for his many needs, caused by disability and trauma, including by his dozens of forced electroshocks. Ray is a trauma survivor, and we must all do what we can to help him find the alternatives he seeks, and that can be difficult for anyone in our society.