The Common Good

Things Worth Remembering from the Rally to Restore Sanity

101101-rallytorestoresanity2On my way back to Pennsylvania after attending Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C. last Saturday, I couldn't get one sign out of my head which read, "It's too bad we even need a rally to restore SANITY."

I rallied along with an estimated 215,000 fellow "moderates" on the National Mall, as part of host comedian Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" and Stephen Colbert's congruently satirical "March to Keep Fear Alive."

It was my first-ever "ironic" rally, organized around a deep need for civility in public discourse while recognizing that we all get a bit too intense sometimes. Yes, the rally had political, social, and religious markings, but it was quite different from Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, which promoted a fear-based understanding of God and government.

And as a Christian dedicated to social justice, I believe Saturday's rally was a reminder that while political engagement is important, what matters most on a daily basis is how we live out biblical truth -- how we show God's love to each other, including those with whom we disagree.

Here's what I'll remember:

1. We need truth and civility. We must start with this commitment in order to agree and disagree in love while not demonizing the "other."

2. We are post-right v. left. We don't live our daily lives as Republicans or Democrats but as Christians who pledge allegiance to a higher Master.

3. We are prophetic radicals, not extremists. As Christians, our message and example from Jesus is subversive, but it's based on radical hope and reconciliation, not violence and fear.

4. We need to laugh together. While politics is important, and times are tough, we can stray toward acting insane, or at least uncivil, if we forget the place for comic relief.

5. We must welcome conflict. Being assertive includes listening rather than shouting, with an understanding that conflict is normal.

We're always going to have conflict. So we as Christians should model to our political leaders and media pundits a spiritual narrative that's productive and peaceful -- a third way that doesn't ignore or merely critique reality but considers how we might change reality.

"Our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done," Stewart said.

And though Election Day is important, what matters most is how we work together to get things done every day -- and how we love each other in the process.

Sheldon C. Good is a former Sojourners intern. He is assistant editor for Mennonite Weekly Review and blogs at The World Together.

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