Broadcasting in the wake of my lifetime’s gravest national tragedy was a turning point for Jon Stewart & a catalyst for what his program would develop into.
As I entered my teen years in sync with America’s rapidly rising levels of terrorism hysteria, The Daily Show was an important benchmark for my understanding of comedy, my interpretation of liberalism, my detection of hypocrisy, and my aversion to bullshit.
This continued into my college years. I found myself becoming more and more jaded, cynical, and bitter as the world kept getting uglier. My only recourse at the time was to grit my teeth & drink my way through it.
I remember cracking a beer and settling in on the living room couch to watch Stewart, exhausted & exasperated, lead the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on a brisk October Saturday afternoon my senior year. This was in the wake of all Glenn Beck’s frenetic ranting & raving about the deterioration of this great nation.
Miraculously, the country did not collapse. The economy may have had its ups & downs, but here we are, still chugging along 5 years later (though as of this year no longer with Stewart to helm the edge of satirical news reporting, following his departure/retirement).
The difference for me is that now, sober & adjusted, I no longer feel it incumbent upon myself to bear the weight of the world’s troubles across my back. Perhaps my approach could be interpreted as one of apathy — and that would be fair. I no longer watch (or even read, really) the news. I’m careful not to enter into political discussions with my peers too often (especially as I willfully remain largely uninformed on policy). I try to spend more time existing for myself.
Why would I do this? How can I speak so freely about mindful living, yet choose to remain closed to much of the world?
Because I have a healthy distrust of the media, and because I value my sanity. It’s that simple for me.
Remember what happened 14 years ago.
Also remember what has happened in the 14 years since.
Do no harm but take no shit.