Use Your Inside Voice

Use Your Inside Voice

by
Abby Zimet

Among its moderate pleasures, the Stewart/Colbert rally was striking for its simple good will. Signs
were often hilarious, from the goofy - Don't Panic, Vote Yes On No,
Stop Justin Bieber, I Can Spell, Everyone Is Hitler, I'm Not Afraid of
Gay Marriage but Zombies Kind Of Freak Me Out - to the pithy: I Think,
Play Nice, Team Human Beings, God Hates Hate, Tap Water=Socialism, I
Disagree But I Can See Your Perspective.

Stewart's pointed but judicious speech: 

"I can't control what people think this was.  I can only
tell you my intentions.   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. 

But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two
broke.  The country's 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic
conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes
solving them that much harder.  The press can hold its magnifying up to
our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore
unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and
then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous
flaming ant epidemic. 

If we amplify everything we hear nothing.  There are terrorists and
racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be
earned.  You must have the resume.  Not being able to distinguish
between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams
and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the
racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to
hate--just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes
us less safe not more.  The press is our immune system.  If we
overreact to everything we actually get sicker--and perhaps eczema. 

And yet, with that being said, I feel good-strangely, calmly good. 
Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our
political and media process is false.  It is us through a fun house
mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and
maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass
shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together?  Why would you reach across the aisle
to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster?  If the picture of us were
true, of course, our inability to solve problems would actually be
quite sane and reasonable.  Why would you work with Marxists actively
subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one's
humanity but their own?  We hear every damn day about how fragile our
country is-on the brink of catastrophe-torn by polarizing hate and how
it's a shame that we can't work together to get things done, but the
truth is we do.  We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don't is here or on cable TV.  But Americans don't
live here or on cable TV.  Where we live our values and principles form
the foundations that sustains us while we get things done, not the
barriers that prevent us from getting things done.  Most Americans don't
live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or
conservatives.  Americans live their lives more as people that are just a
little bit late for something they have to do-often something that they
do not want to do-but they do it--impossible things every day that are
only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all
make. 

Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are. 
(points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a
tunnel).  These cars-that's a schoolteacher who probably thinks his
taxes are too high.  He's going to work.  There's another car-a woman
with two small kids who can't really think about anything else right
now.  There's another car, swinging, I don't even know if you can see
it-the lady's in the NRA and she loves Oprah.  There's another car-an
investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah.  Another car's a Latino
carpenter.  Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman.  Atheist
obstetrician.  Mormon Jay-Z fan.  But this is us.  Every one of the cars
that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles
they hold dear-often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to
their fellow travelers. 

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one
by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty
river.  Carved, by the way, by people who I'm sure had their
differences.  And they do it.  Concession by conscession.  You go.  Then
I'll go.  You go. Then I'll go.  You go then I'll go. Oh my God, is
that an NRA sticker on your car?  Is that an Obama sticker on your car?
Well, that's okay-you go and then I'll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the
shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and
he is scorned and not hired as an analyst. 

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get
through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together.
And the truth is, there will always be darkness.  And sometimes the
light at the end of the tunnel isn't the promised land. Sometimes it's
just New Jersey.  But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I'm here and want I want from you, I can only
assure you this: you have already given it to me.  Your presence was
what I wanted. 

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."

 

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