Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Rally to Restore Sanity Could Have Done More

I don't know what everyone else was expecting of the Rally to Restore Sanity.  But I'd really like to know how many people were disappointed by it.  I was, truthfully.

Especially after all the hype, I was expecting something more than two and a half hours of Colbert making a distracting ass of himself and an incredible amount of musical guests.  I think that I was hoping for something more than a comedy presentation.  Because, honestly, this country does make me afraid.

I'm horrified of the extreme reactions that lead people to do idiot things like arrange a Koran-burning rally, elect candidates based on things that have nothing to do with policy or intelligence and much to do with notoriety and the ability to catch media attention by, for example, condemning masturbation.  It terrifies me to think that there are intelligent, capable candidates who won't be able to be elected to serve today because they may be Islamic or because they're Democrats.  And I feel offended, hurt, and outraged whenever I listen to people making statements about atheists being parasites, liberals being Marxists trying to bring down the Constitution, Democrats being terrorists, college-educated people being racist elitists, and the like.

On the other side of the line, I also have a tendency to protest when people tell me that all Tea Partiers are racists, or that conservative policies will ruin the world and bring down the next Apocalypse.  I realize that this kind of talk is stupid, generalizing, and ultimately untrue.  Along with Jon Stewart, I like to save impressive labels for those who can tote forth the unpadded résumé.  This isn't to say that I agree with most commonly-toted conservative ideas and policies:  I don't.  I believe that a country with a massive amount of poor, sick, unaided people making up a large percent of its population has the bright future of a  very determined door-to-door hand grenade salesman driving his van into a wall at 120mph.  This is my perspective, and I know this, and I am perfectly willing and happy to talk to people who have a totally opposite point of view.

But, you see, I said "TALK".

Not argue.  Not debate.  Not blame.  Not scream endlessly until one person's rudeness, temporary deafness, and ear-splitting screams have drowned out the other person.  I really mean "talk".  I will listen, and in return I expect the other person to do the same.  It needs to be an option for people to really open their ears to what the other person has to say, and this means possibly even making concessions when the other person is right.  It means reminding Americans that we are not, no matter how convinced we are, ever going to be right about everything, so we should shut our loud mouths for once and pay attention to the other human being in the room.

So, yes, I truly wanted the Rally to Restore Sanity to have much more to say than it did.  I wanted persuasive speeches that would try to shake the nation into something approaching middle ground.  I wanted to shut Stephen Colbert up somewhere quiet until he could stop interrupting, because by hour two, I was pretty darn tired of of watching no actual serious points get made because Colbert's script kept him married to his ridiculous fear-parody.  The last half-hour of the rally just wasn't enough.

For once, for once, sane people had a cause around which to rally, and I would have liked them to celebrate their commitment to not being crazy, not drown it out with musical performances and R2-D2, as cute as he was.  (Although R2-D2 running over Jon Stewart's foot was probably one of the funniest parts of the rally.)

Seriously.  Why do we need this rally?  Why do we need medals of reasonableness, and why is what sane people all over the world are doing important?  I'd have liked to see this explained, and promoted--not in a liberal sense, and not even in a political sense, but in a pretty darn sensible "Hi, we're all humans,  we're not going to blow up the world because we're not that unhinged, and we should probably stop dividing into factions and killing our country from within" kind of way.

This kind of division and occasional hysteria isn't specific to our time.  Revolutions, as the name implies, don't happen just once.  I'd be very interested to discover a historical atrocity or a governmental overthrow that happened because people weren't extreme enough and sat around trying to see both sides of an argument.

I cannot see any harm to being only moderately passionate about your causes, as long as the cause you're opposing is not actually killing people, animals, or things like the world's freshwater supply.  If you're opposing a specific genocide, that's not the time to pussyfoot about.  But for the rest of your life, if you find yourself closing yourself off to any other potentially rational point of view by the sand surrounding your head, just think twice.  If someone else is being rational, they deserve to be listened to rather than to be shut into a fearmongering, pigeonholing corner of the national media's profit margins.

That, I feel, is what I wanted the Rally to Restore Sanity to elaborate on.

What about you?  Did you watch it?  What did you think?  Were you happy, or did you want more?