I'm notorious for making resolutions that don't last, whether around New Year's or yesterday -- when my wife and I, along with some progressive friends, watched the Rally to Restore Sanity in its entirety thanks to CSPAN.
But after being immersed for three hours in Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's inimical brand of political humor/satire, I think they may have permanently changed the way I look upon those with whom I strongly disagree.
Meaning: Tea Party folks, right-wing Republicans, religious fundamentalists, dogmatic moralists, climate change deniers, and other anti-science types who try to found social policies on feelings rather than facts.
They drive me crazy.
But this doesn't mean that they're crazy. It simply means that I've allowed myself to give them more control over my psyche than is desirable, if I want to keep myself as sane as possible.
In his closing speech to the hundreds of thousands of rally attendees, Jon Stewart said "We can have animus but not be enemies." Also, "If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."
He was referring to the media in that second comment. However, it applies to the voices inside our own heads also.
If I get outraged about every info nugget I come across in the newspaper, talk radio, cable news, or the Internet that conflicts with what I believe and want to have happen in the world, those mind-screams are going to drown out my quieter, saner inner speakings.
I used to be deeply conservative in my early teens, a holdover from my mother's Republicanism. She loved William F. Buckley and National Review. I grew up reading both. Republicans in those days were much more reasonable and less strident than the modern variety, though. (I can still remember Everett Dirksen's sonorous voice.)
So I can easily imagine having views that are the opposite of the progressive variety I hold onto now. Once in a while I'll be listening to an avid right-winger and briefly picture myself flipping to his or her side of the political aisle.
This helps me keep in mind that all of us believe stuff that makes sense to us. Of course, it will seem crazy to others with an opposite persuasion. This is a big part of sanity: doing our best to recognize that how other people see the world isn't under their control, as our own viewpoints aren't either.
Most Americans are moderates, which is how I consider myself. Yes, I call myself a progressive. I drive a Prius and a hybrid Highlander with a "Kitzhaber" sticker on the bumper (he's the Democrat running for governor here in Oregon).
When I moved to Oregon in the early 1970s, Tom McCall, a Republican, was governor. I recall liking McCall a lot. There's no reason -- here's that sanity thing again -- why I couldn't support certain Republican policies even though there's a "D" on my voter registration, or why the reverse couldn't be true for "R" voters.
We've got to get away from looking upon the Other Side as genuinely other. They aren't. They're simply Us with different ideas running through their heads.
Yesterday Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert skewered the notion that fostering fear, extremism, divisiveness, and militant I'm right and you're wrong is going to solve our country's problems.
When I do my 30-minute stairmaster workout at the athletic club, I no longer watch the six televisions lined up on the wall in front of me. Usually some are tuned to Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC. In the past I couldn't resist getting my head filled with the latest political jibber-jabber.
Now I bring along my iPhone 4, fire up the XM satellite radio app, and listen to POTUS over the club's wi-fi network. POTUS (Politics of the United States) is appealingly sane and reasonable.
As Brian Ross said in a review, this Sirius channel may the last refuge of balanced political journalism. It resonates nicely with my newly restored sanity. Here's how Jon Stewart summed up his Rally to Restore Sanity, and what it sought to accomplish.
That was an encouraging take on it and made me feel better if not about this election maybe about people beginning to think. My fear is the ones who heard the message and got it already were the ones who think and the others are going on their merry way... although to feel less rage over it would help even in that case.
Posted by: Rain | November 01, 2010 at 08:32 AM
Brian, you are not moderate.
I agree with your remarks on the media. Might I suggest when you workout that you listen to..... Music. Build yourself a 30 minute playlist of energizing music, and actually unplug yourself from politics for a while.
Posted by: Dan Gellner | November 01, 2010 at 11:55 AM