Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (and a Halloween Dance...)

We danced in DC this past weekend.  David and I drove to DC on Friday night and attended Saturday's Halloween swing dance at Glen Echo Park, and the blues dance at Du Shor dance studio.  And it was fun. The attendance was a little lower than expected, and we didn't pull together much in the way of costumes (David had a vague pirate theme and I wore a t-shirt with a skeleton), but it was a good end to an excellent day.

Because although we danced in DC, we went for the Rally.  That's right.  David and I were 2 of the 215,000-odd people that attended the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on October 30, 2010.

While initially we planned to go into the thick of it and attend the Rally from within the crowd on the National Mall, the sheer, overwhelming size of the crowd made it insane to stay there, and we wandered the edge of the crowd until we found ourselves at the back of the stage, between the stage and the Capitol Building.  After wandering a bit more, we discovered the media tent. From the entrance to the tent we watched a live feed of the stage and heard every word and saw everything that happened.

 Most of the show was comedy: a battle between Stewart, promoting sanity, and Colbert, arguing for fear.  There were musical numbers, costume changes, guest appearances, and outrageous props (a giant, papier-mache Stephen Colbert puppet?!)  At the end, though, Stewart spoke for ten minutes very sincerely, and what he had to say was less a political message and more an appeal to reason.  "This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or to 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."

Stewart argued that politically we need give and take, just as in our daily lives where we don't push and shove and cheat to have our way.  No matter what political view the people around us hold, we work with them to accomplish those things in our daily lives that we need to accomplish (such as merging on the highway).  "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. But we do it anyway. Together."

He also took time to criticize the mainstream media's habit of blowing everything out of proportion, calling the media "the country's 24-hour, politico-pundit, perpetual-panic conflictinator."  He doesn't blame the media for our country's problems; he says they've skewed our focus because they've become misguided: "The press can hold it's 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 sudden, unexpected, dangerous, flaming ant epidemic.  If we amplify everything; we hear nothing."

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Jon Stewart - Moment of Sincerity
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report


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