For the any-American, this is the place where so much stuff happens.
This past weekend, America witnessed some other stuff happen, specifically at the National Mall. (For the Erica-American, the National Mall is not a place to spend money on good shoes, rather it is a place to spend time with good views.) To write about this stuff, I took an all-expenses paid trip down to D.C. (By 'all-expenses' I mean the bus ride there and back again, thanks to Arianna Huffington of www.huffingtonpost.com).
The journey to the rally was an experience. I showed up at Shea Stadium at about 5:40 AM, greeted by about 10,000 people. (They all didn't say "Hi Steve!", not that kind of greeting; which would have been inaccurate because my name is not Steve). At least one person was smoking marijuana and he stood several feet behind me. This was not enjoyable because I had not eaten breakfast and all of a sudden I had the "munchies", but I had no food so I became hungrier. Although this would make me grumpy any other time, the secondhand's effect did not let me become grumpy but just made me giggle. (Don't smoke.)
There were delays getting onto the buses, which was expected. My bus left about an hour and a half past schedule and we eventually arrived at the rally at 2 PM. We meandered into the thick of the crowd, which we had no idea held at least 215,000 people. I couldn't see anything, due to my lack of incredible height and the organizer's lack of multiple jumbotrons throughout the field. I couldn't hear much, due to the lack of enough speakers. My predicament was replicated in pretty much everybody next to me, around me, and behind me. So we did the next best thing.
We talked to each other.
We got to know each other.
We laughed at signs and took pictures.
People laughed. Others hugged. Some lady had explosive diarrhea. (Well, that's what she said to get people to give her space so she could leave.)
Truth be told, the rally did not serve much purpose except to just bring us together. Most of the stageshow had musicians playing, which really just served as background music to everything that was occurring, literally, on the grassroots.
Jon Stewart's speech at the rally's official conclusion (not yet unofficially concluded) was very poignant and very direct.
As a Muslim, I very much appreciated when Jon straightforwardly said,
...just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more.This line, from a person of the Jewish faith, rallying people to not think that Muslims are terrorists was incredibly powerful, given that many people believe there is some sort of Jewish-Muslim hatred (there isn't).
As a student of law, such straightforward speech is so important. Many times, I have read through judicial opinions riddled with fluff or seen legislation that is longer than it needs to be. Other times, people have attempted at communicating by not saying anything, thinking that the recipient will understand what is occurring, to which my professor once told me, "You'll have to tell me, I'm not a brain surgeon." Why take the long road when the easy road is so much more short and direct (and gas is like 3 bucks a gallon now).
As an American, I was thankful to hear Jon say,
We hear every damn 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, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!Save for the rare few who continually gripe and moan about this or that, the rest of us do get along (can't spell USA without "us"). Unfortunately, such behavior is not seen, as Stewart stated, in D.C. Is it an age thing? Is the nation held back because the Constitution requires Senators and Representatives and Presidents to be of a certain age?
As a human, I was thankful to hear Jon say,
But we live now in hard times, not end times.The economy is dropping, unemployment is rising, and with it, nothing is remaining constant (except for the index finger pointing at and blaming Obama). The majority of Americans have been affected by all these troubles. Yet, we try harder to make it so that this is not an end.
And that's what matters.
That's what keeps us sane.