By Amanda Ponzar
This past weekend, I was actually glad to live in the Washington, DC area. Not because of the traffic (it took me 1.5 hours to go four miles to work this week), but because it made it easier to attend Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity (or Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Fear, depending), and I don’t get out much.
Some framed this event as a “liberal rally” or “logic against faith” or a bunch of wild young people/atheists/crazies, but I saw something different. People of all ages, all demographics, all religions, all viewpoints –- coming together. If anything, by attending, most people were saying they are tired of outrageous sound bites and constant controversy and instead would like to have reasonable conversations about the real issues people care about. (Case in point, when United Way launched our Campaign for the Common Good last week, people from all walks of life –- teachers, business leaders, organizations, students –- convened to talk about what they want for their community and education. Guess what the kids want? Just to be safe at school.)
Yes, I enjoyed Stephen Colbert emerging from his “Freedom Bunker” in a patriotic super hero costume and pretending to launch peanut butter-smothered bees into the audience. He suggested people run for their lives or decide “whether to cower in terror or die bravely".
Yes, it was claustrophobia-inducing being packed in like sardines (supposedly Comedy Central got a permit for 25,000 and ended up with hundreds of thousands).
Picket signs blocked the jumbo-tron, and the crowd often chanted “turn it up, turn it up” as we couldn’t always hear what was happening from the stage. So, like the people who stayed home, I’ll still have to watch it on C-Span.
Nevertheless, it was empowering to participate, to feel part of something, and to (hopefully) have sent a signal that people do have a sense of humor and are willing to converse with diverse groups. For crying out loud, I don’t agree with my immediate family, closest friends and coworkers on political issues, but I still respect them. We don’t all have to agree on everything to still get along.
1.) Honest, I don't mind paying taxes.
2.) What this country needs is more cow bell. (Who doesn't?!)
3.) Use your indoor voice.
4.) Please disagree with me. I want to hear your sign.
5.) Welcome Great Pumpkin.
6.) Sane is sexy.
7.) Real patriots can handle a difference in opinion.
8.) I prefer facts, nuance and intellectual debate.
9.) Free kittens.
10.) People who don't believe in the government shouldn't be running it.
11.) Will work for money.
12.) No taxation without misappropriation.
13.) You're either with us or not. No biggie.
14.) I spell-check my political rage.
15.) Han shot first.
16.) Things that are not Hitler: (pictures of Dubya, Glenn Beck, Pelosi, Obama, a few others). Things that are Hitler: (picture of Hitler).
17.) Raccoons are tiny burglars.
Better yet, Jon Stewart raised money for the Trust for the National Mall. So, it was not just about jokes -- like Jon Stewart’s lost and found box with a headless bat -- but also about giving back to ensure we and future generations can rally on the National Mall for whatever reason, for many more years to come.
Photos (c) Amanda Ponzar & family