From The 321 Incident
The first national General Support Group convention convened in Detroit. It was initially going to be held at an unfinished housing development project, but the venue was changed at the last minute when the owner of a major hotel downtown offered to host the event. Hundreds of GSG facilitators showed up for the three day affair.
As one of the primary organizers, Jo felt herself being pulled in many directions at once. Tom was there covering the event for the Hope Gazette and Jo kind of just wanted to hang out with him. Peter and Anabelle were there too and Jo was thankful for their organizing help, but she had mixed feelings about Peter's insistence on speaking in front of the whole convention. She didn't doubt his ability, but she worried that his sometimes arcane pronouncements might not be the best fit for the total program.
March twentieth was the event's hectic first day. Jo spoke about the establishment of the GSGs, highlighting their successes as well as their failures. A few GSG facilitators spoke as well, on topics ranging from harm reduction to group strategies for self-financing. The morning of the twenty-first was dedicated to a silent 321 vigil. In and around the hotel, crowds of people sat or milled around quietly, remembering the tragedy that had brought them all together. After lunch, they all gathered in the main room.
A GSG facilitator named Colin from Connecticut stood at the front of the room and talked about the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining relationships with local authorities. A facilitator named Tamara from California talked about cultivating safe relationships with trauma survivors. A doctor named Renee from New Mexico talked about a survey she'd done suggesting that the presence of a nearby GSG reduced ER visits related to self harm.
When it was Peter's turn to speak, he stood nervously before the crowd and awkwardly adjusted the microphone. "Uh, hey everyone," he began. "I'm Peter and I have something important to tell you, but you're probably going to think I'm nuts."
The crowd was silent, waiting to hear what Peter had to say. "I used to use drugs," he continued. "Hard drugs. Crack, mostly. Once I got clean, I came to understand that the reason I used was to silence important parts of me that I didn't feel had a place in my life."
Spotting Gred Shabar in the crowd, Peter grinned briefly before continuing. "With lots of help from a few people, some of whom are in this room, and from having GSG meetings available whenever I need them, I'm learning to pay more attention to these parts of me, and to better integrate them into my life."
Taking a deep breath, Peter felt anxiety welling up, but he pushed through it. "There's a term called transliminality," he continued. "This term never took off in mainstream psychology, but I've nonetheless found it to be important to my process. You see, transliminality refers to a hypersensitivity to psychological material, whether arising in the individual or in the external environment. It basically means being overly sensitive to information from the unconscious. And I'm definitely overly sensitive to this information."
Peter paused, closing his eyes for a moment, seeking inner confirmation that he was doing the right thing here. "Now, I don't know how all of this works," he went on. "But I've received a message about today that I need to share with all of you. Yesterday, the FBI stopped a terrorist attack in Chicago. The targets of the attack were human rights abusers profiting from the incarceration industry. Between last night and today, all of the alleged attackers but one were murdered while in federal custody. Nine activists in total, each under the age of twenty-five. The media will initially report that they all died of unrelated medical emergencies."
Looking around to see how people were reacting, Peter found only blank faces. "My message is this," he continued, feeling his confidence growing. "The system is a murderous machine, and it's coming for anyone who acts against it. The latest killings will inspire an equally harmful resistance movement, like a war but with no central organization behind it. Now, I don't want any part of that. I don't want anyone I love to be involved in it. And I think everyone in this room can agree that peace is better than war."
At this point, several audience members were clearly no longer paying attention, but most of the crowd was hanging on Peter's words, trying to make sense of them. "The wave of psychological breakdowns, the so-called mental health crisis we've been seeing, is just the beginning," he said. "In a society where nothing makes sense anymore, with a medical system focused on 321 Syndrome and big pharma profits instead of on human wellbeing, people are going to be looking to the GSGs for help like never before. They'll be looking to you. So I'm here today to invite you all to get yourselves as clear as possible, whatever that takes, because the world needs you to be there for people. To hold the line against the forces pushing our world deeper into madness."
"Hell yeah!" said a voice from somewhere in the middle of the room. Applause broke out. Peter ceded the floor to the next speaker, who started going over the options for the smaller workshops that would take up most of the rest of the conference. As Peter was about to sit down, he was approached by an older man in a sweater vest and a younger man who looked like he hadn't slept in days.
"Hey, I'm Horace, this is Dr Winston, can we go somewhere and talk?" asked Horace. "It's about what you said. I need to know more."
The three of them found an unused table at the hotel restaurant. "What's this all about?" asked Peter.
"I was involved in the thing in Chicago yesterday," said Horace. "The feds picked me up but ended up letting me go. When I got home, I crashed, and was woken up by my doctor here pounding on my door. He said one of the other people arrested had died in custody, and he wanted to get me to a safe place. So he brought me here."
"Fuck," said Peter. "So it's true."
"I've received word of a few other deaths in custody," said Dr Winston. "You really think they're all dead?"
"They are," said Special Agent Weaver, who had approached the table unnoticed. "Sorry to interrupt. But young man, Peter is it? Peter, how exactly did you receive your information about the deaths in custody?"
"You followed us from Chicago?" asked Horace. "Of course you did. Please don't tell me I have to come back with you, because obviously your people can't keep me safe."
"I received the information from my unconscious," said Peter. "This is where it starts."
"Where what starts?" asked Weaver.
"The whole thing," said Peter. "The chaos. The new world. All of it."
"Can you be more specific?" asked Weaver.
"The deaths of the Chicago Nine, as they'll be called, won't go unanswered," said Peter. "There will be reprisals. Attacks you can't stop. The system will respond by going nuts, harming innocent people, triggering another round of reprisals. Until all the rage that's been building up in everyone erupts like a massive volcano. Like a psychic eruption that changes the landscape in ways we can't imagine."
"Great," said Horace.
"The thing is, this storm will contain opportunities to do better for all of us," said Peter. "It will be very hard, but in some ways it will make our choices easier. More clear. This conference and the GSG community is all about doing less harm. Maybe you guys came here today to hear me say it. Whatever happens, do less harm."