Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Kindred Soul

     As you may or may not know, the Love Out Loud campaign was founded by two English majors—Rachel Dulaney (myself) and Carly Smoot. Upon hearing that Dr. Brad Campbell would offer a Madness in American Literature class, we began to wonder if it were possible for us to do something more than just a paper for our senior project. Enter the Love Out Loud campaign. Both of us have been personally affected by the issues addressed in this campaign—depression, self-injury, and/or suicide—and because of our history with these issues, we wanted to do something that would make a difference, that would change the way people view these struggles and the people who face them. We also, however, wanted to bring to the forefront the healing power of artistic, creative expression, our particular vein being written art. We had been able to express in writing that which we could never express verbally—and being able to produce a tangible product out of the seeming mire was satisfying and cathartic.
Once we were officially approved to do this slightly risky yet thoroughly exciting project, Carly and I got together to write the mission statement for the campaign, which was originally called the “From Ashes to Beauty” campaign. Here’s part of what it said…
The From Ashes to Beauty Campaign aims to raise awareness about the depression, suicide, and self-injury that affect our generation. The goal is to use creative mediums as a means for outreach and awareness to bring a face to the nameless and countless thousands who have struggled with depression or thoughts of suicide, so that it is neither misunderstood nor greeted with scorn…This project, rooted in hope, encourages people to meet one another where they are at so that love may spring up everywhere.
Though this project has grown and changed drastically since these words were written, its core principles and goals have not. Much like the tree in our logo, we may no longer look like the seed we were when we first started; but our heart is the same.
            That being said, I wanted to share with you all a bit of writing by a man named Clifford Beers, who was hospitalized for insanity in the early 1900s and later wrote this autobiography, titled "A Mind That Found Itself," of his time spent in an insane asylum. This moving work ends with some of the most powerful words about hope and unity that I’ve ever read regarding mental illness. As I read through this work for our Madness in American Literature class, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see the same soul and vision in this man’s words from a century ago as I see in our campaign today. Be inspired!
By this time two paramount questions have no doubt arisen in the mind of the reader: First, is there in the problem of managing and treating the insane an inherent difficulty which will forever prevent the correction of such abuses and deficiencies as have been discussed in this book?...An emphatic answer to [this] question may be given. No inherent difficulty stands in the way of the universal correction of all abuses and deficiencies of treatment complained of in this book—unless it be the inherent apathy of a public which for centuries has failed to do its duty by the insane…For bringing about the reforms which, of necessity, must precede any such correction of century-old abuses, the interest of every right-thinking person in this country must be enlisted. Few, indeed, are endowed with great riches. Few are able to convert their best impulses into an acceptable medium of exchange. But every man and woman can lend a hand, or at least speak a word. Our subject has for generations been neglected. It is the discussion of it that will create and mold Public Opinion, and Public Opinion, vigorously expressed, will, more than any other factor, tend to correct the evils I have denounced. Has my story utterly failed of its purpose? If it has stirred your sympathy it is your duty to give expression to this aroused interest, not to me, but to everybody within your sphere of influence. Continual and sincere expression will wear away that rock of indifference against which the distressed souls and abused bodies of the mentally ill have been bruised for centuries. Has my story—not as the story of my life, but as representing the experiences of thousands of others still living and of thousands whose terrible secrets died with them—has this story, I say, aroused within you the healthy desire to contribute at least your influence to the corrective and overwhelming force of Public Opinion? If so, your duty is plain.
And what duty would that be? I think Beers states it perfectly: Every man and woman can lend a hand, or at least speak a word, and it is the discussion of these issues that will create and mold public opinion. Continual and sincere expression will wear away at that rock of indifference and apathy against which the distressed souls and abused bodies of the mentally ill have been bruised for centuries. The Love Out Loud campaign aims to do just that: to a lend a hand to those who have fallen, a shoulder to those who are crying, a smile to those who are sorrowful, an encouraging word to those who are hurting. We are, I believe, continuing the fight that Beers started a little over a century ago, and will keep fighting until all of our energy and love is expended. These are the things that define a generation; these are the moments we—and our children, even—can look back on and be proud of. So now the only question is: Will you, too, love out loud?

With love,
Rachel D.

1 comment:

  1. That was absolutely inspiring, it's true though, we all have to do our part help one another and all of you girls are doing such an amazing job with this campaign! my sister and I had a wonderful discussion a few weekends ago when i went home about how important it was for people who have the power to play their part to help. It's true that one person does not have the ultimate power to change everything, but if everybody played their part to help, together they can make a difference. She made me realize that those who aren't directly affected by a hardship are actually those with the most power because when other people realize that those people not directly effected by a cause are supporting it, they then understand the true importance of it. It's actually kind of funny that we both came up with this next statement that people hear all the time and is sligthtly corney but: "with great power comes great responsibility" lol, but we both realized that it's true!!! As corney as it is, it does apply. I definitely pledge my part to love out loud with this cause, lend a helping hand, and fight to help others realize that they are not alone in their lives, their are caring souls like you all, and again have been doing such a brilliant job, honestly, this campaign, it's working because that conversation I had with my sister also contained this campaign, keep it up! :]