Ethical Humanists Support Rally to Restore Sanity
On Saturday, October 30, an estimated 215,000 people joined Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert on the National Mall in front of the Capitol to either restore sanity or keep fear alive, depending upon which comedian they supported. The two duked it out on stage in the spirit of Will Rogers, Lenny Bruce, and George Carlin to the delight of the multitudes that included close to fifty members from at least five Ethical Societies.
The signs people carried expressed dismay at the harsh tone of public discourse, teased the Tea Party, and sought understanding of humanity with intelligence and humor. Here are some examples:
"I hate taxes but I like: roads, firefighters, some cops, traffic lights (except red ones), national parks, the coast guard, various TLAs, etc. So I pay them anyway! Oh yeah, I hate war, too."
"I disagree with you but I don't think you're Hitler."
"I'm taking back the tea party." [held by little girl dressed as princess]
"We survived Bush. You will survive Obama!"
"Be excellent to each other."
"Impeccable spellers for nuanced political discourse."
"Being loud, rude, and ignorant is not a political movement. It's just bad manners."
This was the third rally I attended with my family in Washington, D.C. I had been to other rallies--for peace, the Equal Rights Amendment, the right to choose--but not with my husband and children. In June 1996, we participated in the Stand for Children rally, and we celebrated Mother's Day in 2000 at the Million Mom March. Andrew and Emily, adults now, stood with my husband Glenn and I, close enough to hear but not tall enough to see what was happening on stage, surrounded by people of different ages, colors, and faiths--and loving it.
The pundits have been hard at work since that day, analyzing
and critiquing the event: Apparently, it was frivolous and served no
purpose; it should have been more political and encouraged people to vote; it
should not have equated hatred spewed by the right with that of the left. Here's
what Jon Stewart said:
"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 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."
It was that simple--and that wonderful. As far as I am concerned, everyone there was an Ethical Humanist; they just didn't know it.
Ethical Culture Leader John Lovejoy Elliott once said that democracy and religious faith are, "much one and the same thing." He shared, with the first generation of Ethical Culture Leaders, a sense that democracy symbolizes the deepest thing that human beings can experience. The powers of real democracy are unfulfilled in partial democracies, but through a partnership with all people, and a religious faith in morality, we can realize the power to develop a new sense of living together.
Let us breathe new life into that ideal of democracy that deepens our ethical relationships with others and puts religious faith in humanity.