To The NAACP re: their nice prompt for reflections on The Dream Speech
“I wasn’t yet born when Dr. King gave his speech and my memory of it is black and white, televised. Mediated by time.
I am a writer and an artist, a mental health survivor, a mother, an activist. I have been socially isolated for a very long time – by circumstance, choice, and consequence.
Sometimes, I wonder if I actually am crazy. It has gotten hard to go about my daily business of shopping and wage-earning and making pleasant small talk.
See, I grew up in south Georgia, a quarter of a mile away from my great-grandmother – Mrs. Rachel Beck Moeckel, born in 1894 – the daughter of a Georgia State Supreme Court Judge, Marcus Beck.
She called African-American’s “Nee-groes” and my brother and I understood that that was because she was “a product of her time.”
Still, I wondered – if she were a product of her time, what would we – my brother and I – become, being raised in ours. I dropped out of high school because it seemed alternately frivolous and cruel. The boys from the county were wearing shirts emblazoned with old flags that said, “It’s a white thing – you wouldn’t understand.”
I ended up in the mental health system early…at age thirteen. It has taken me twenty-two years to realize that I am not crazy, I am reasonable and I am humane and the world I was born into – over a decade after Dr. King gave his speech – well, it breaks my heart.
It always has. I don’t know why I can’t care less. I do know that I feel a deep sick sense of shame that the American heart has forgotten how to dream and that our desperate fear has turned our backs on grace.
I hope that as I wake up from my own dream – that I can live an ordinary life and that somehow all the problems will be solved if we just ignore them long enough…well, I hope that others will wake up from theirs.
The reality of today is nobody’s dream – as fractured and splintered as it is. I hope against all hope that somehow we will realize the tragedy of raising children in a world so viciously graceless.
Tolerance is a difficult skill to develop, for it requires us to acknowledge our own humility and to be fearless in our examination of self. We need to be fearless in our pursuit of grace and vigilant in our declarations of love.
To fight for freedom is valiant, however freedom is won only when we cease to see one another as enemies. We were all, each of us, children once – the lawyers and crack addicts, supremacists and school teachers, policemen and prisoners.
Somebody looked into our young eyes and hoped with all their heart that we would be happy and safe and kind. That we would be fair and that we would not turn a blind eye to things we know are wrong.
We must reclaim the honor of that love bestowed upon us, we must hold in our hearts the dream of Dr. King…but, let us not forget the dreams of all the tired mothers, and weary grandmothers. The dreams of father almost too scared and confused to even hope to imagine…something better.
For the small people we welcome into this world we have created…I hope that each of us will recognize the ways that they are special and the ways that they, in their own storied way, are integral to a better way of being, a more just way of seeing.
We – the people – cannot turn on backs on one another and hide inside our homes for fear that someone may disdain us for being a ‘radical activist’ or some such nonsense. What is so radical about hope?
My hope is that Dr. King’s dream will realize itself when we, the people, realize that we must, each and everyone of us, become activists in our own ways.
Laws are important, however only love can legislate the human heart.
Thank you for prompting me to write. I look forward to helping you in any way I possibly can.
I have blogged a great many pages of my story and the unique perspective it has given me. http://www.mynameisfaith.net“
AND AGAIN…I TRY TO GET IN TOUCH WITH GLENN BECK. I REALLY WANT TO TALK TO THAT GUY.
I THINK IT’D BE DELIGHTFUL.
However, I am very, very serious.
(To Producer and Head Writer for Glenn Beck’s program…)
Hello, Mr. Stu – My name is Faith Rhyne and I am a 34-year old, unemployed mother of two. I am also a lot of other things…diarist, artist, lousy banjo player, heavily tattooed gardener, mental health/near-genius survivor. A sixth generation Georgian, great-great granddaughter of Georgia State Supreme Court Judge, Marcus Beck.
I have sometimes wondered if perhaps Mr. Glenn and I are related.
It would be easy to slate me as an adversary to Mr. Beck. However, I have no interest in being adversarial. I would, however, like to speak with Mr. Beck. I encourage you and Mr. Beck to visit my website: www.mynameisfaith.net
I understand that you may be inclined to laugh at me. That’s okay. Nonetheless, I would appreciate it if, after you regain your composure, you consider me as an actual person with a unique set of circumstances that has led her to ask a lot of “Why?” and “Why not?” questions.
I am an artist: go ahead laugh…with a heart of pure salt: cease laughter. I have tested as being more intelligent than 99% of the population in some areas – but, those tests don’t measure much. I might have a good vocabulary, but I am complete idiot in many regards.
Mr. Beck – I am deeply concerned by what I see happening in this neighborhood, this town, state, country…blah,blah,blah – you get my point. The thing is – I am not quite sure how you are actually addressing the core problems* by allowing yourself to be pigeonholed as a ‘rightwing conservative’ and thus contributing to the sort of bickering culture that distracts us from the real issues* –
*I understand that phrases such as ‘core problems’ and ‘real issues’ don’t mean anything. I would like to speak with you about the need for Americans to clarify, for themselves, what is important for their families and communities. I think that you could be a powerful force in helping to communicate ACTUAL SENSE to people. They listen to you. Which is why it is so important for you to be flexible in your position as a ‘Right Wing Conservative” – – –
People are frightened, Mr. Beck. Please consider speaking with me. I am really quite delightful. I do not like Fox broadcasting – but, I don’t like any media…so, whatever.
I appreciate that you raised so much money for the families of those lost to war. You seem to be a good person, which is why it is important that you be vigilant in making sure that the interests you defend are those of the people, all of them.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Faith Rachel Rhyne
If you are wondering just who in the world I am, well…it’s on the site. I think I posted my resume sometime in late July. Genuine college-educated high school drop-out. Yup. By the way, I think that I would very much appreciate a response and may continue to write to you until I get one. Don’t worry, I am nicer AND prettier than Michael Moore.
AND BECAUSE PRISONBOOKS HASN’T EMAILED ME BACK, I OPTED TO EXTEND MYSELF AS A RESOURCE TO ANOTHER ADVOCATE FOR PRISONERS, Sister Helen Prejean.
Hello Sister Prejean – My name is Faith and I am a 34-year old mother of two from Asheville, NC. I am a diarist and an artist, as well as a mental health survivor. It’s a long story about misunderstanding. I have blogged quite a few pages and images at www.mynameisfaith.net Please feel free to visit the site. I would appreciate your feedback.
For the purpose of being succinct, let me just get right to the point. I seem to have some capacity for forgiveness and acceptance that is rare, for the men who drink from brown paper bags always seem so surprised when I smile at them and their hard eyes seem to open and it feels as if we see one another very clearly. I am able to connect with most people in this way. I do not think of it as any sort of metaphysical something or other. I just think I have a good brain and a heart that is relentlessly willing to see beauty. It is just the way I am.
I have a very small 3-D life, because it is difficult to maintain the expectations of all the walking and talkingness when one’s heart is broken – again and again – by how far astray hate and commodity has led our sense of humanity.
This may seem a strange offer. However, it is something I feel quite called upon to do and it is important to me that you please give me your kindest and most hopeful consideration. I often, when I speak to people who seem angry and broken and forgotten, seem to be struck with this very forceful sense of what was seen in them as children and all that was hoped for them. It is not uncommon for me to inspire stunned silence…perhaps it is a response more to the fact that it must be pretty weird to find oneself in a grocery store parking lot with a pretty white woman who has tears in her eyes after looking into yours and a smile that is quiet and stops any meanness from rising in your throat. Yes, that does quiet people.
I feel safe in my neighborhood, because all the drunk men know that I look them in the eye. I am, admittedly, a bit of a strange case, However, we live in a strange world, don’t we?
If ever you know of a person on Death Row who might feel some sense of healing by sitting quietly with a pretty girl and letting her look upon him as a child, and to know that he is whole and he is loved, please do let me know.
I believe I am blessed with the ability to see people very clearly. I would like to offer myself as someone who may be of assistance to those whom words fail to comfort. Nevertheless, I also enjoy writing letters (as you may have noted:) if you know of someone who needs a penpal.
I would be honored to be able to learn from the humanity of those living, but sentenced to die. I hope every night for small grace to visit those who are trapped, in one way or another.