|Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear|
|Jon Stewart - Moment of Sincerity|
If you’re wondering what the intended purpose of the Comedy Central “Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear)” was, take a look/listen at Jon Stewart’s “Moment of Sincerity” above. I managed to get down to the Mall for about 15 minutes of the rally during a lunch break from a yoga workshop I was attending (a surprisingly “synergistic” experience!), and a few things struck me: the wonderful diversity of faces in the crowd, the very many witty signs, for sure, but also that this seemed to be more about poking fun of the bad behavior of politicians and extremists and any other polarizing personalities who get all the airtime in the media, rather than modeling how we can actually start to “just get along” well with each other and then get things done.
As Jon himself says in his “moment” above, “sanity will always be in the eye of the beholder.” Will ridiculing and making fun of the insanity get rid of it? Probably not. As with other types of “insanity,” having “sane” people tell the “insane” that they’re “insane” (or just plain wrong) is only likely to make the “insane” person more paranoid, defensive, and entrenched in denial. I suppose the rally was a necessary start though–an “intervention” of sorts. From Jon’s explanation, I think what the rally might have done to combat the “insanity” was to call a “time out” and point out that what’s needed is some pausing and self-reflection–to encourage the reasonableness in people to reemerge from within rather than being forced from without. When people are thinking and feeling unhealthy thoughts, they need to heal from inside themselves before they can be expected to interact well with others.
This might sound a bit like psychotherapy babble-talk to you, but I think there are lots of useful analogies here, between the dysfunction of troubled people and that of troubled politicians or their constituents (our whole political process). In therapy we learn that we cannot spend all our time pointing to the “villains” and playing the helpless “victim.” It’s not always someone else’s fault. We are told to be wise enough to recognize our own part in bad relationships and outcomes, and told to be brave enough to pursue changes that are within our own control, rather than wailing about things completely beyond our control. The “serenity prayer” comes to mind.
That’s probably a lot like what our country needs to get back to reasonable and civilized policy making. We can’t shout at each other to “bully” each other into seeing our world view. We have to first be able to see ourselves clearly and understand our own priorities and ask ourselves if our proclaimed “world view” and any associated negativity we spew is consistent with what we really want for ourselves and those we care about, or if our own behavior–our own part in all this–actually is making things worse. Only then we can start to take personal responsibility, be willing to talk and listen to each other constructively, and truly compromise and cooperate for the good of all, and significantly, for our own good!
In this respect I think the Rally transformed the National Mall into an enormous therapist’s couch that the surely millions of people who followed it (whether they were right there in person or not) were lying on. Some of the people attending had clearly already begun this therapeutic journey, as they were carrying signs that made fun of themselves (and their heretofore political apathy, perhaps) even more than the extremist positions they were rallying against. So, the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” was like a giant wake-up call and therapy session, with Jon Stewart playing the role of therapist comedian–even more than comedian “pundit.”
(But finally, I cannot resist sharing two of my favorite signs from the rally, below. And, no, I did not make the sign that the Uncle Sam guy is carrying.)