Jon Stewart has called for a restoration of respectful public discourse through a "Million Moderate March," scheduled for October 30 in Washington. One cannot argue with the merits of such a pursuit or malign the person who proposed it, can one?
The purpose of the March, says Mr. Stewart, is to counter "the minority of 15 percent to 20 percent of the country that has dominated the national political discussion with extreme rhetoric." He holds both major political parties accountable for their roles in the discussion. In calling for the rally, Mr. Stewart has imposed upon himself a very high standard. For his own credibility and to achieve his goal, he will need to both model civility and maintain an apolitical stance, not necessarily an easy thing to do for someone with strong opinions. Yet, it can be done, and if done well, will provide a workable template for us all.
In the meantime, some simple thoughts on promoting public discourse include:
- To be respected, one must respect
- To be heard, one must listen
- To be understood, one must strive to understand
- To teach, one must be willing to learn