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Humor As The Saving Grace

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John Stang – Co-News Editor

I will begin this column by stating the obvious: the world is hilarious and should not be taken seriously. More importantly, those in Beltway should be considered the jesters of the world. If we as a society are to survive this world of doom and gloom, we must recognize this fact more often to save our sanity. Two men have decided to take the liberty of illustrating this point by holding mock political rallies. Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show, and Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, have chosen to give this nation a much needed sanity break before the midterm elections.

Of course, Stewart and Colbert are both mocking Glenn Beck, the newest hit in the Republican Party for his rally on Aug. 28 at the Lincoln Memorial. Beck’s rally occurred on the 47th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” Beck, a man who stated that President Obama “has a deep seated hatred for white people,” used the event to proclaim his own dream of America returning to God, not the government, as its foundation. Most of the people at Beck’s rally were white, Tea Party activists. In contrast, Stewart and Colbert will host their rallies on Oct. 30. The crowd will probably be much smaller and made up of mostly college students and liberal adults.

Stewart is calling his rally: “The Rally to Restore Sanity,” an appropriate title I think. Colbert is calling his rally: “Keep the Fear Alive.” Critics will call these rallies a distraction from the national conversation. I call these rallies genius.

Right now, this nation is a pit of frustration. The economy is in shambles, in the midst of an environmental crisis, and Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose. To top it all off, the people with the solutions are those with the most radical voices. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, and all the other jokers in Washington seem to be focused on courting the most extreme members of their respective parties. The problem is the radical side of either party is not the most compromising bunch. With Tea Party activists distorting American history, wanting to cut social security and Medicare, and telling the world about President Obama’s radical communist/socialist/fascist/Muslim tendencies it is pretty hard not to laugh at such outlandish ideas.

On the left, you have the Code Pink angry feminists, the crazy environmental and animal rights people, and the real socialists. These voices also control the American political system; no wonder nothing ever gets accomplished.

The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” might seem trite and banal, but it is the exact prescription that this country needs. There is only one way to tune out the extreme voices in the world, laugh them away. In a sense, the conversation seems to be hindered and hijacked by our loudmouthed brethren who hold up posters calling the current and former president a “Nazi,” a charge no one except actual Nazis should have to endure.

The moderate and rational voices should be heard. Stewart mentioned one sign people could carry at his rally was “I disagree with you, but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler.”

Through humor, people can see the basic, underlying principles behind an idea or statement as to why it is meritless. Not to mention, laughter can decrease the risk of heart disease, boost ones immune system, relax muscles, and relieve stress.

As a nation, we seemed to be pretty tightly wound. Not surprising, since we live in a fast paced lifestyle filled with Blackberries and iPhones where everything must be done in an instant, leaving little room for proper methodical discourse. With that attitude, anyone who yells the loudest and most extreme usually wins the prize for best policy option. We must come together, recognize that the ideas of both extremes are equally foolish, have a drink, and move beyond our petty differences, or at least have a moment of Zen.

If you are still not convinced of this remedy, I would beg you to consider this. In an age of policymaking, if the words “death panels,” “anchor babies,” “communist,” and “tax cuts pay for themselves” are being used in primary discourse, I would say a good laugh is probably necessary to cure the stupid.

To read more commentary by John Stang check out his blog called “Power Walk” at http://wwwstangblog.blogspot.com (no dot after the www).  His opinions are his own and do not reflect those of the Brackety-Ack.