By Kate Clinton on October 28, 2010

Because of a longstanding prior commitment to some darling lesbians and a boat, I will not be performing at the Restoring Sanity Rally in DC this weekend. Not that anyone asked.

While I believe that humor can do serious work, I’m worried that the Restoring Sanity Rally will be a bit too ironic for its own good. I’ve read Comedy Central’s disclaimers that they are going to try not to be political. I hope The Restoring Sanity Rally is not political in the same way that cry-baby booby Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally was not political.

The whole notion of restoring sanity relies on the lovely if naive premise that there was some baseline of national sanity in the first place. Perhaps a displaced but witty Native American will give the opening blessing.

The Restoring Sanity Rally sounds like a huge national Alcoholics Anonymous Round-Up with a focus on AA’s second step: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Unfortunately many believe that greater power is Sarah Palin.

If you think of our dear nation as a child, and of Europe as our qualifying, crazy-ass, violent alcoholic parents, the Sanity rally has perhaps more of an ACOA spin. As an adult children of alcoholics nation, we have been trying to make the world safe, through hideously inappropriate behavior: pre-emptive wars, nation building, ‘free’ trade. We owe the whole world an amends at this point.

I’ll try to TIVO the Sanity Rally and the Keep Fear Alive March. I’ll get the on-the-ground scoop from my friends, but I hope [not Beck-restored hope] that the rally does not dissipate real political anger. It already has siphoned off a lot of last-minute door-to-door get-out-the-vote volunteers. Of course I would prefer incitement to riot, without the guns or tear gas, to enticement to rally. At this particular moment in our nation, ironic bonhomie is no substitute for making a stone cold sober decision to turn our political will into greater political power. That is also a good starter amends.

If you liked this article by Kate Clinton, a columnist for The Progressive magazine, check out some of her other pieces by clicking here.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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