“Not sure if he’s being dramatic because the situation calls for it, or if it just feels good to yell.” – Story People
I didn't go to John Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington D.C. on October 30, but I really wanted to. Instead. I took pictures at a friend’s wedding, which was probably a much saner way to spend the day than at some rally, but the idea of joining thousands of other folks in making the statement, “Enough of the craziness!” did really appeal to me.
The notion behind the rally (which was, admittedly, hosted by a “news” show on Comedy Central) was that in the midst of all the sturm und drang (storm and stress), yelling, name-calling and extreme polarization that define current news and politics, there is a quiet majority made up of regular folks just going about their business, living their lives — not really angry about anything or looking for anyone to blame.
I like that idea; it makes me feel better than the Fox News version of reality where we’re all going to hell in a hand basket faster than we can imagine and we need to be angry and scared and have someone to blame at all times. Hey! While you’re up, turn up the volume, because things aren’t nearly frantic enough yet.
This is where you Fox News enthusiasts jump in and start yelling “liberal media!” at me, but in the interest of restoring sanity, let’s just agree to disagree; you go on to the Sports section, while I commiserate with readers who share these views with me.
So, restoring sanity – what does that mean? I think it means simply spending more time and energy acknowledging how things really are, and less time and energy trying to stay all riled up all the time.
For example, take the local news. Contrary to what some say, most of it is pretty good – cities trying to take care of citizens, schools trying to teach kids, governments trying to do the best they can on ever-shrinking budgets. There’s births, engagements, weddings, church and school news. There’s pictures of people donating money to good causes and coverage of charity events. There’s recipes and sports and page after page of pictures of people doing fun or interesting things. And, then there’s the shenanigans, controversy and bad headlines generated by the few – a very few – in our community.
In an effort to restore sanity, why not keep things in perspective? Sure there’s bad news, but in general there’s a whole lot more good going on. It’s up to me to choose which I focus on. Contrary to what we hear in some news, it’s all not black or white, wrong or right, my way or the highway; most of life, at least in my experience, is defined by compromise, reason and just trying to get along.
All this crazy loud Fox-style news has given us a taste for drama that is simply not reality based. Most of our lives don’t involve that much controversy, yet we’ve been led to feel that we have to pick sides all the time because extreme polarization is the new norm. Again, not so, I say. Real life is quieter and, yes, more boring than all that and that’s just fine with me. It’s about sanity, not how whacky can we all be.
In falling victim to the explosive media, we distort our view of reality and reduce our ability to function effectively. I, for one, don’t want to base my views on life or cast my vote in reaction to what I don’t want or what I’m scared of. I prefer to make choices based on how I’d like things to be.
I’ll admit, I get caught up in the drama at times. There are days, sometimes entire weeks, when I don’t walk my dogs or get any exercise because I’m so busy chasing the little tempests my news beat teapots generate; that’s no way to live. In striving to restore sanity, I must maintain focus, which means sometimes these things just don’t matter that much. Generate a few less words, go walk your dogs…restore some sanity.
A couple of weeks ago I had a photo session with a little girl in a park. Her name is Madison; she’s precocious and strong-willed and, in general, from the time she was very small, she has called the shots during our photo sessions. This particular hour hadn’t gone as well as I wanted and I was working hard to get a few last perfect shots.
All of the sudden, Madison flung herself down on the grass and said, in a very serious tone, “You just need to lighten up, Lorin; put that camera down and come play with me.” That is what I did and on the way back to the car, I got some of the best shots of the day.
Madison knew how to restore sanity and she’s only four; if only we could all be so wise.
Lorin Sinn-Clark is a reporter for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The quiet majority you speak of are the ones who are finally waking up to the atrocities occurring in our nation. We must remain vigilant as Kristi Reed so eloquently stated in her column. Refusing to remain vigilant in these turbulent times is insane; therefore, I guess those who choose to remain in quiet and fail to do their part in keeping the original spirit of America alive need their sanity restored as they embrace an insane world of selfishness.
I think what happened is all the calm people decided it wasn't worth trying to reason.
But that's not really true.
On this paper's competitor's blog section, I spent a lot of time responding to the extreme, loud minority.
What I found is that they shut down after a while, and sane people from all walks of life started to come out of hiding.
But it left me worn out on politics, so I stopped posting there. I come back and find the madness has returned, like a nasty cockroach infestation.
The trick, I think, is to get enough of the silent majority talking so no one person has to bear the whole burden of sanity. It's helpful to remember that they really are the minority, and you only have to get enough sane people moving to sustain it.
Some of the most sane people I've met held views wildly divergent from my own (various types of conservative, religious folk, rich, poor, etc), but they stay out of politics. That's what we need to fix.
The system only seems broken because someone forgot to add air to the tires, and we careened off a cliff when the tire blew.