THE CHALLENGE OF SANITY

David P. Kronmiller and his wife, Jennifer Emily McLean at the Rally To Restore Sanity

Sometimes you have to do something a little crazy to find some sanity.

Traveling 2,308 miles to Washington D.C. to attend a Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or   Fear) hosted by a cable television comedian is a little crazy.

But I had to do it.

Life had gotten pretty insane – and I needed clarity. The trip was partly, yes, about attending the rally but it was also about reaching outside of the bubble I live in – meeting new people, smelling new air, seeing new light hitting trees that have become unfamiliar to this Angelino.

I didn’t know what to expect. I assumed there would be some comedy. I assumed some of it would be great and some of it would be simply amusing – and I assumed there would be exciting musical guests and a few surprises. But aside from the “show” I didn’t know what to expect.

I just knew my wife and I needed to go. We needed the adventure. We needed to connect to something bigger than us.

I’ve read some of the reviews by now of the rally – the spin by some news folks here and a blogger there (Jason Linkins has a great write up). If you read Politico you would have thought it ended half way through and according to some TV pundits they were unclear why everyone was there (and surprised by how many of us showed up).

I won’t go through the show’s lineup as you can read about that pretty much everywhere else. I will, however, tell you what I walked away with after standing packed shoulder to shoulder for four hours with people I didn’t know:

We are, in fact, good people.

We are polite. We are kind. We are good, solid people. All of us. We have our good days and our bad days. We sometimes fail and sometimes succeed. But in the end we are good souls.

I don’t know if we realize that often enough.

I met so many people this weekend that opened my paradigm just a little wider.
There was the young mother on the metro who flew out from San Jose – just for the day –just for the rally.

There was the older gentleman, well past his 60’s, who seemed to be at the Rally alone who stood for most of it while wearing his Stewart and Colbert garb.

There was the think tank and White House interns who filled me with reassurance that the next generation is not only smart but kind and generous.

There was one of the founders of the Coffee Party who got all these people to sign an oversized display of the Constitution.

As we broke out from the metro station, climbing the escalator into the cool morning air, we stepped onto the National Mall, passing history along the way, our feet hitting the gravel in a soft rhythm as we all walked towards the scene splayed before us – glowing off in the near distance.

Giant jumbo-trons, First Aide tents. A guard tower. Barricades. A “Family Re-Unification” station where people could meet up if they got separated.

Our feet played the gravel like a brush on a snare as the few thousand of us walked to join the several thousand more up ahead. There was a quiet resolve. A shared purpose. A shared idea.

The idea that we can be kind. That we can discuss without stepping on each other and yelling and screaming and putting on our mad face.

We can be a good people because we are good people. I don’t know why we’ve let others tell us anything different. For we the people are not just Democrats or Republicans or Independents or insert label here – we are just people – all of us – who have been fooled, marketed really, into thinking we must join some team to be relevant. That we must abdicate our reason for the sake of fear and perhaps popularity.

I lived for some time in the Amazon jungle (no joke) and trust me – there is nothing in this country to fear but, as FDR said, fear itself. Now in the Amazon there are really big snakes that can kill you and really tiny fish that can kill you – so you know – be reasonable about where you are – but here in the United States – relax a little. No one is trying to kill your grandmother. No one wants you to lose your freedom. No one wants to take away your spirituality. Government is not evil. Corporations are not evil. Taxes are not evil. We, as a people, are not evil.

We are however at times impatient.

It takes time to improve anything and effort. But we can do it – we just have to sometimes count to ten and remember that the person standing opposite us is just like us. We have to be sane in how we approach life but never lose the insanity that may bring on an adventure or a new idea.

The challenge of sanity is the patience of sanity.

This notion that we’re divided as a Nation is a false one. And as Jon Stewart said:
“We hear every damned 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. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don’t is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!”

As I sit and write this up, it’s late, my body aches from standing and walking all day. And sure the subway ride was a little insane and sardine like but I feel a little saner, a little more focused, a little more patient.

And a little more filled with hope.