Being There

I was in Washington D.C. for the Rally to Restore Sanity. As soon as I heard about it on the Daily Show I knew I was going. It was awesome in the true sense of the word.

I knew it would be hard for me with a slight disability. I have double vision, can’t turn to the left, am unsteady when I walk and, my legs are weak. So the idea of a crowd that big could be scary. I knew the crowds would be large but kind.

I got separated from my group, never found those I was supposed to meet, and had trouble squeezing through the crowd to the ADA section. Then I saw a Conga line of those with wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches and grabbed on the back.

Once I was settled I found myself in the moment. Actually being there. Not focusing on the people I had lost. Not thinking about other things. I made friends quickly with folks from all over.

When the music started it was amazing. I am not sure how they got Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. Cat Stevens, in the country but to hear him sing “Peace Train” was sublime. All the music was great. As were all the guests.

Jon Stewart’s 12 minute Speech hit home for me. “If we amplify everything we hear nothing” and “These are hard times not end times”. His describing everyday Americans with differences solving problems in their communities as the norm.

I do not think of myself as a leftest though I am called that. We are lower middle class. have seen our income reduced by more than half in the last decade. We have a modest home we are happy to be able to make mortgage payments on. I have voted in every election since I came of age. I pay my bills and taxes. I am a good neighbor. I live by Christian Values but do not go to church.

We got wake up calls in two ways. In 2001 my husband, who is a veteran and has had an excellent work history lost his job before Christmas with no severance. He got up at 4:30 AM every morning to open a gym and went back to school. We learned what the difference between wants and needs. I told him we were lucky to go through that experience because I saw that in the near future many Americans would be going through the same thing in greater numbers and we would have learned to live on less.

I have always been pretty healthy. We went through that two years of underemployment without health insurance and we only went to a doctor we could pay cash. No Emergency Care even when I have asthma and pneumonia.

The second wake up call was being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a disease which is expensive and does not generally shorten your life. I found myself in my forties with a disease I may have for forty more years. My Doctor recently said you do all the right things for your health and you have diseases you just can’t help.

Both of these things could happen to any of us.I am not the type of person who can just vetch about things I have to get involved. I found myself as a volunteer activist.

The Rally to Restore Sanity was perfect for me. I chance to say “I care about this country and I am not a left wing nut”. I am a person who loves my country and is proud of it. I like Stewart, think we are stereotyping on both sides of the political spectrum. I believe we are more alike than different and that most folk fall closer to the middle.

Two things happened to me at this rally. First I am drawing from the amazing solidarity. To be in a mass of humanity which was so agreeable with each other was amazing. Second I was dope slapped. I realize I am guilty of stereotyping. I may not want to let the person in traffic because they have a big SUV and wanted to pass me on the right. I had a mirror held up to myself and I was not afraid to look at what needs changing.

So what was this Rally about? It was about the most amazing entertainment including an 86 year old Tony Bennett singing “America the Beautiful”. It was about humor, if we can’t laugh at ourselves we are in trouble. Most of all it included a powerful speech by Jon Stewart which showed us the media constantly distorting the truth and that in reality we are all simple Americans with our own problems trying to get through our days.

My solemn wish after November 2, 2010 is that whoever is elected will not care about power but will care about those of us with everyday problems such as paying ever increasing medical bills. Those in power will not stay grid locked but will be like the traffic and will work together to compromise and do what is best for main stream America not just special interests.


  1. Gary Harden

    November 1, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    This is beautiful Alex. In the words of Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples, “you’re not alone”!

  2. Adam Linker

    November 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for this. Wonderful, as usual.

  3. Adam Linker

    November 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Did Polly make it to the rally?

  4. Alex O.

    November 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I would not subject Polly to these crowds or the bus ride. I was pushed along at one point at the end in all directions and finally got out and was disoriented. I nearly ran into this strikingly beautiful woman dressed in black and as the moment passed I realized I was at the stage area and it was Sheryl Crow!

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adam Linker, Susanne Ford. Susanne Ford said: Being There: I am not sure how they got Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens, in the country but to hear him sing “Peace T… http://bit.ly/d6uMPn […]

  6. Brenda

    November 1, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Excellent piece! Thanks Alex for help those of us who could not make feel like like we , too, were “in the moment”.

  7. IBXer

    November 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    The difference between the Tea Party Rally and the Rally to Restore Sanity is that the Tea Party Rally was mostly white:


    In fact, the only black people there are the ones who are paid to be on stage:


  8. IBXer

    November 3, 2010 at 8:50 am

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