Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Jon Stewart Concerted Effort to Restore Sanity
Last weekend, Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity drew millions of participants in cities all over the world while Stewart himself, led the effort in Washington DC with a few hundred thousand in attendance, asking everyone to “take it down a notch for America.” He did so with the hope for an end to the partisan bickering and oppositional rhetoric that prevents collaboration necessary for the efficacy and success of the nation.
Stewart’s colleague, Steven Colbert, provided the counterpoint with his “Rally to Restore Fear,” providing the comic (if not juvenile) relief. Stewart’s closing remarks were a plea for prevailing sanity: “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. .. If we amplify everything we hear nothing. “
Fear is the core issue behind violence, jealousy, bigotry, anger, depression, greed, hatred, lies, insecurity or obsessive worry, just to name a few. When fear is managed it is a vital, effective life saving response which is critical to self preservation. It is vitally important to discern what appropriate and inappropriate fear is, as well managed fear can and will protect us, and unmanaged fear can destroy us.
What is our tendency to seek experience that amplifies our emotion, especially fear? Why do we keep feeding this tendency while knowing that it takes us beyond the parameters of sanity?
Sociologist Tim Hallett of Indiana University asks: “How does an inkling of anger develop into a blind rage? How does a little happiness evolve into bliss?...I argue that interaction serves both as a stimulus to evoke emotional responses, and as a conduit for emotional feedback and amplification. ” Emotional interactions left unmanaged seek the further interaction needed for further arousal and emotional amplification. What becomes unmanaged emotion blinds us from possibility, and takes us beyond sane mental states. In the words of Jon Stewart, “Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you."
Why do we succumb to self seeking insanity? How do we resolve the conflicting, amplified emotions within us to restore sanity?
What do YOU think?