Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (and Closing Transcript)

Tuesday's Take Time to Care - In my daily life, I focus a ton on nourishing my family's bodies through food. In the past few years, I haven't done as great of a job nourishing my spirit. My hope is that on Tuesdays I can remind myself how to take the time to exercise, do art, connect with a friend, do a good deed for another, or see the world through someone else's eyes.

My kind mom stayed in town an extra day so that my husband and I could attend the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (Thanks, Mom!). I really wanted to go so that I could feel a part of something I believe in: our media isn't usually helpful to society. My view has nothing to do with politics. It has nothing to do with midterm elections, presidential performance, or anything of the like. It has everything to do with the lack of news the media covers and the lack of ability of the American public to recognize that it's not news. 

We arrived at the metro station with 3000 of our closest friends. The line was OUTRAGEOUS! Thankfully, we had our Smart Cards (metro cards) on us, and we were able to get through the line a little faster. We hopped on a train that was PACKED. This is how it looked at the first station on the line. Every platform we stopped at had a bunch of people waiting to get on. A few folks on our train started hollering at each stop to "Hold the line!" and "Nooooo!!" because we were already packed in like sardines.

We stood for the entire metro ride and then walked to the rally. Then we stood for the entire rally. We were on our feet from 10:20am until 3:15pm. It was bliss to sit on the grass once the crowd thinned out after the rally! I don't know how we used to stand during college football games for so long!

While the crowd was overwhelming, it was also awesome to gather with all of these fellow Americans gathering together to say "enough is enough." The crowd I was surrounded by was friendly, peaceful, and diverse.

There is plenty of research showing that television/images impact our views.  Meaning, if we see on the news that America is failing, it's easier for us to believe it's failing because we're seeing images of it. But it's not. Yes, the economy failed. The spirit of the American people did not. By watching CNN, FOXNews, MSNBC, etc, however, you might believe that Americans have failed. What the news channels show us is us yelling at each other, using horrible grammar, calling each other names, stereotyping each other, hitting each other figuratively and literally, and altogether disrespecting each other. By seeing these images on-screen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we slowly start to believe that this behavior is actually occurring and that it is acceptable. 

I went to the rally to say, "It's not okay anymore." Journalism was meant to be more than reporting for ratings, and  Americans were meant to require more than pundits giving opinions without any fact. 

This blog isn't about politics. It isn't to bash cable tv (which I don't have, btw, b/c I use rabbit ears to receive HD tv for free). It is about how I try to stay sane during my life's chaos. This weekend, I tried to stay sane by being counted in the rally to show that I hope we can all stop mindlessly watching tv. Use your remote to turn off the tv or change the channel to something that illustrates how you want America to look and be. 

Remember the age old advise about raising children: children copy the behaviors that they see. If we are seeing bad behavior on our news shows, we will become copycats to that bad behavior. (NOTE: Obviously, there are many other talking points I could have discussed about the media, Jon Stewart, etc, but I chose to talk about seeing/tv images. Since I already finished grad school, I have no desire to write a 30 page report about it all!)

Here are Jon Stewart's serious remarks about the purpose of the rally. The transcript from the Huffington Post (emphasis is mine):

And now I thought we might have a moment, however brief, for some sincerity. If that's okay - I know that there are boundaries for a comedian / pundit / talker guy, and I'm sure that I'll find out tomorrow how I have violated them.

So, uh, what exactly was this? I can't control what people think this was: I can only tell you my intentions.
This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear--they are, and we do.
But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus, and not be enemies. But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke.
The country's 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.
There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned! You must have the resume! Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult--not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate.Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.
The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker--and, perhaps, eczema. And yet... I feel good. Strangely, calmly, good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us, through a funhouse mirror--and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist, and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead, and an ass shaped like a month-old pumpkin, and one eyeball.
So why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle, to a pumpkin-assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable--why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, and homophobes who see no one's humanity but their own?
We hear every damned day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it's a shame that we can't work together to get things done. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don't is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!
But Americans don't live here, or on cable TV. Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done--not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.
Most Americans don't live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often something they do not want to do! But they do it. Impossible things, every day, that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make.
(Points to video screen, showing video of cars in traffic.) Look on the screen. This is where we are, this is who we are. These cars. That's a schoolteacher who probably think his taxes are too high, he's going to work. There's another car, a woman with two small kids, can't really think about anything else right now... A lady's in the NRA, loves Oprah. There's another car, an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car's a Latino carpenter; another car, a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan.
But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief, and principles they hold dear--often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers'. And yet, these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze, one by one, into a mile-long, 30-foot-wide tunnel, carved underneath a mighty river.
And they do it, concession by concession: you go, then I'll go. You go, then I'll go. You go, then I'll go. 'Oh my God--is that an NRA sticker on your car?' 'Is that an Obama sticker on your car?' It's okay--you go, then I go.
And sure, at some point, there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder, and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare, and he is scorned, and he is not hired as an analyst!
Because we know, instinctively, as a people, that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light, we have to work together. And the truth is there will always be darkness, and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn't the promised land.
Sometimes, it's just New Jersey.

1 comment:

Kim said...

Thanks for this! I read about this and would have attended if I lived there. My favorite quote in the whole of Jon's speech was this: "If we amplify everything, we hear nothing." I think everything stems from that problem right there. Yea Jon! He's one of the main reasons I wish I still had cable :)