Thursday, November 11, 2010


Today marks the 38th anniversary of the day on which Ellie and I made the trip down to City Hall in Los Angeles to be married by a local judge. Afterwards, at eleven minutes past eleven on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we sat with our neighbors, who had been our witnesses, and raised a glass of champagne to mark the moment. The significance of the date and time may escape some of my younger American readers who do not, I believe, celebrate Armistice Day--the day on which the official peace treaty was signed at the eleventh hour to put an end to the "war to end all wars," World War I. How many have we had since then?

Today also marks the beginning of the New Reality Transmission, an eleven-day, world-wide effort to shift the global consciousness into a more peaceful and compassionate direction through shared, eleven-minute meditation sessions. I have been hearing about this event from various sources, and intend to join the effort as I can. I'll commit eleven minutes of my daily meditation practice to that intention, with the hope that millions throughout the world will join in. I do believe that intention can and will make a difference.

Which brings me to another topic. Last night, nearly two weeks after the event, I watched a good part of the Rally to Restore Sanity, which we had recorded on our television at home. I found it, frankly, disappointing. It did not represent why I had gone to Washington; nor, I think, why hundreds of others did the same. As a three-hour show, it was not terribly entertaining and not terribly funny. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert do well in their half-hour routines. This event could not decide what it wanted to be: a concert, a comedy, or a sermon. And in my opinion, it dragged from pretty early on. Forty-five minutes of music from Roots was not a promising start for what most of us understood to be the promise of the event.

But I'm not interested in writing a critique of what happened on the stage. I'm interested, rather, in what didn't happen. I think the vast majority of us who attended were attracted by the promise of forum in which our "sanity" could be heard. And that sanity included not only the tenor of political discourse--the focus of Jon Stewart's intention--but also the content of that discourse. I watched Bill Maher's comments about the rally on his show, "Real Time," last week, and found myself in agreement with his take: the event missed its implied target, the insanity that infects and paralyzes our political life. As Maher pointed out, there is no equivalence between insanity on the left and insanity on the right, as Stewart seemed to be suggesting. The insanity, friends, is in the far too influential far right wing; the "reasonableness" he was pleading for exists, at this moment in our political life, exclusively on the left. To reduce the solution of our problems to being polite to each other and tolerating others' views is to miss the point.

What happened up on the stage in the "Rally to Restore Sanity" was, in my opinion, irrelevant to why most of us were there. Which is why it was fine that the vast majority of us saw nothing of it, heard nothing of it, and were glad to be there anyway. It was about showing up and being counted. Or rather, not being counted, because I continue to believe that every published estimate of the crowds--the most frequently cited, I believe, is 215,000--was a distortion of the reality. I know, from earlier comments, that there are those who disagree with me, but I believe that it served the media--who after all serve corporate interests--to minimize the event, particularly in view of the subsequent election.

It has become increasingly important for the future of this country to counter the irrationality of the far right with a modicum of sanity. This is why I went to Washington, and I choose to believe it's why that immense mass of people were there with me. Jon Stewart is not shy about accusing the Democrats of wimpiness. I believe that, on this occasion, he, too, wimped out--and badly. It's not just about being reasonable in the way we talk to each other. It's about returning to rational policies and "reality-based" plans for our common future.


BladeofGrass said...

11 minutes a day to increase awareness of human beings living without war or poverty. Great idea. I would hope that anyone who involves them self in this activity increases the 11 minutes a day, exponentially, everyday until they are aware of our global community 24/7.
You might enjoy this article about a speech Bill Moyers recently gave...
Bill Moyers: "Welcome to the Plutocracy!"


I do not agree with his solution....organize. It hasn't worked in 60 years and the Plutocracy is growing faster than ever worldwide. It will probably take some kind of radical revolution....dropping out of this current society maybe.

mandt said...

Happy anniversary!

Anonymous said...

happy anniversary, hope peace continues in the Ellie and Peter home


CHI SPHERE said...

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." : Thomas Jefferson

I am weaving a pup tent/shelter cloth with Yuan, Peso and dollar paper money to protect me from the rain of red and blue bullshit about to fall from the heavens of our Corporate congress. The tent poles are walking canes and the spikes that tether the tent to the ground are steak knives. I used a wooden head to pound them in to the soiled dirt.

Plutocracy it is BladeofGrass.

"All grass is flesh" Pindar

Organizing on the internet could work but it will take a tsunami of biblical proportions to overwhelm the sea of corporate greed and control being contemplated by the bronzed blubbering son of a bartender.

The Red gong show is in session!

I celebrate the intent of 11/11 and did practice it before I wrote here. Backbone may serve us equally well.