Is Apathy Sanity?

28 Oct

The Rally to Restore Sanity, “a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies” is taking place this Saturday in Washington, D.C.

(Watch Jon Stewart’s announcement of the Rally here)

Miraculously enough, it seems that thousands of people who did not previously have time, will find it, this Saturday in Washington, D.C. (as well as in sister rallies around the United States and world) [A quick Facebook search returned results for: London, Montreal, Lisboa, New Zealand]

Don’t get me wrong, I love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as much as the next young/liberal/UW-Madison graduate…but you’re telling me we just mobilized an international community [which often proves nearly impossible to do, even in the face of extreme tragedy] around a non-issue*?!

I agree that a lot of political things have been out of control lately, seemingly lacking a certain degree of sanity.  However, the Rally and the message “Take it down a Notch for America” paint a picture that taking ANY stance on ANY issue, is too much.

(image from:

I don’t think it’s enough to only “Not be afraid,” in the craziness that is the world today.

Stewart says, “We have seen these folks, the loud folks, over the years dominate our national conversation on our most important issues.”

As much as we might like it to be different, staying totally silent in a room full of loud talkers doesn’t usually make them quiet down and make a space for you to state your opinion (but a lot of people talking at a normal decibel level, or even whispering all at the same time, might).  So, now more than ever, we need to speak up:

“Because Silence is Approval” words from this recently released anti-bullying message from UW-Madison:

I understand that the premise of the rally is a joke and supposed to be lighthearted…but it’s not a joke that thousands of people who might not normally take a public stance on what they believe is right are taking time off work, roadtripping across the country, and mobilizing for the first time, in perhaps a long time.

So, if nothing else, I hope that people in attendance like the feeling of being there and think, “Hey, I’m going to do this more often.” Or, that we study why people so readily mobilized around a non-issue (at a time where there are so many Issues with a capital I), and then utilize the identified principles for movement building in the future.

I’m not saying that you have to take a particular stance, I’m just suggesting that you take stance– Show your face.

*For clarification, after the rally was announced “Supporters of the movement began a drive to raise money for educational charities through, a charitable organization where Colbert is on the Board of Directors. In the first 24 hours, supporters raised over $100,000. In the days that followed, that total increased to over $250,000.” (Source: Wikipedia)


4 Responses to “Is Apathy Sanity?”

  1. Molly October 29, 2010 at 1:05 am #

    Interesting article to consider within this context:

    Read to the end if you have the time, because the last line is great.

  2. caroeliz October 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    I like when you have posts like this. I agree, it’s funny the things that we can get people to mobilize for.

  3. Molly November 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Another interesting article…

    Reaction to the Rally:

  4. Tommy November 12, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    First of all, hey. Hope you are doing well. Miss you!

    Second, I think you’re being a bit unfair towards Stewart and co. In no way did he argue for complacency, apathy, or reticence, he argued for decency, respect, and a little more calm.

    There certainly are battles going on about “the future of our country,” as the Progressive article put it, but the reality is that this is ALWAYS the case and always has been. What hasn’t always been was the constant derisive and divisive rhetoric of the national media (Fox and MSNBC in particular) enhancing/encouraging derisive and divisive behavior amongst the people that hate and terrify each other!

    Stewart is calling for us to not be like the news anchors and pundits, and be more like neighbors. Neighbors with real issues, needs, and fears that address them with patience, maturity, respect, and fortitude and do not hold irrational fear of one another.

    In other words, calmness, respect, and patience do not imply apathy. In fact, sometimes “showing your face” or “standing-up” is the easy response compared to a well-thought out, patient, and sustained response to a perceived injustice or occurrence. Sometimes it’s easier to bare your knuckles and fight something out, than to sit down and talk something out, but in the long run only one method is going to achieve a sustainable and equitable resolution.

    I’m not saying people shouldn’t speak up, but like Stewart I agree shouting and letting passions run shouldn’t be our default method of handling things or interacting with people we strongly disagree with.

    MISS YOU MOLLL! (I shouted that).

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