(For this post, I’d like to steer away from my normal theological leanings)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I’m not sure if these words have rung more true than they do today. Charles Dickens probably never intended to have the words he penned in this famous novel describe the transition point of our modern society. Now before we get too far off on tangents and soapboxes in the land of politics and values-a land surely of no return-let’s just take a deep breath and count to ten. See, now don’t you feel a little bit better now?
I have become fascinated as of late with the influence of one of my all-time favorite comedians and television personalities-John Stewart. Stewart took over the Daily Show in early 1999. Since then, he’s grown to be as much a part of many of our lives as Mac computers or Starbucks coffee. He’s made a living billing his news show as the faux news that informs us. It’s political sattire at its very best. He spends his time bashing the personalities of Fox, CNN, the Republican Party, Tea Party, Democratic Party, NRA, Green Party, party of Oprah, etc. Well, there’s not really a party of Oprah but I think Stewart might agree that she could create it from the dust of the earth if she so wished. I personally love to hear folks, often older than I am, say how Stewart is a nut or that it’s just crazy that a generation such as mine would ever consider his show even a source of news.
This past weekend, Stewart and his cohort, Stephen Colbert, threw the Rally to Restore Sanity-for all of those who are too busy to attend a rally. Simultaneously, Colbert held his March to Keep Fear Alive. Amid the comedy, light-heartedness, and even pointed words toward the 24-hour media, the clip above offers a few serious moments of, dare I say it, hope.
You see, Stewart points out that most of the problems we face as a society are problems because the media has amplified them as such. “If we amplify everything we hear nothing.” These are words to live by-and also to kill 24-hour news by. He pointed out that “we live in hard times, not end times.” We can’t escalate the level of chaos in our world any more than it is already. This means we have to consider what it means to panic and cause panic in others. I’m afraid there are many among us who thrive off the creation of false panic. Now for some, this false panic comes from a small, sensible level of panic taken to an extreme. For others, this panic is created from a nasty little disease called Ignorance, whose side effects include bloating of hatred and frequent trips to internet blogs that help to continue stirring such symptoms up. All the while a steady diet of hating that which is not like what we see in the mirror is developed.
Before we jump off the deep end into a different pool of insanity, please don’t think I’m building Stewart up as some sort of Messiah figure who’ll lead us to a Promised Land where unicorns run free and puppy dogs come with lollipops to all who dwell there. I don’t think Stewart would dare put himself there. I will say however, that I think Stewart touches on a nerve for me because he voices a language I sense among many in my generation. We’re tired of dividing teams up and divvying up weaponry to launch missiles of hatred at each other. Teams of liberal v. conservative, democrat v. republican, rich v. poor, Christian v. not, or even fundamentalist Christian v. hippy, social justice Christian just aren’t relevant anymore.
I think my favorite quote of the day sums it up: “The truth is, there will always be darkness. But we keep moving towardt that light at the end of the tunnel. And sometimes that light is not the Promised Land at all. It’s just New Jersey. But we keep moving anyways.” Maybe we can solve our problems or even exist together if we begin by taking ourselves a little less serious. Laughter in that face of hard times may be the beginning of a remedy that might not cure all that ails us; but it just might make life a little more enjoyable as we experience it together. No, everything isn’t a “life-or-death” matter at all. Sometimes it’s just about life.