At times I am overwhelmed, especially since 9/11, by the evening news. And often I tune into world events with a little amount of sugar and a big dose of humor. I get my dose of whatever is happening in the world from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I might even stay tuned for the Colbert Report.
And by pure chance, I happened to catch on PBS, Bill Moyers’ interview with Jon Stewart on April 27, 2007. It was a fascinating interview. (Plus, I also love Bill Moyers.)
What a great combination, wisdom, humor, intelligence and insight.
And Jon Stewart said a fascinating thing about issues. (I found the transcript on PBS website, www.pbs.org, I wanted to get things right here, so whew.)
He said “people are busy” and basically it is very hard to “mobilize a busy and relatively affluent country, unless it’s over really crucial– you know, foundational issues. That come sort of sort of a tipping point.”
And he pointed out (the issue was war in Iraq) that the only way people are really going to pay attention is if a draft were instigated. “And the minute you do that, suddenly the country’s not so damn busy anymore. And then they really fight back…”
And I think it’s not so different on a local level.
People’s lives are very busy, and it’s very hard to get them to pay attention to local “issues” much less to get them involved.
One of the things that I found so fascinating was that for, especially, it seems, young parents in Newburyport, MA, the education of their children became a “tipping point.”
And basically, they proposed what many found to be another “tipping point,” raising taxes. And people fought back.
And suddenly, Newburyport, MA became politically awake, in the middle of May, no less, to the tune that almost 50% of the population actually came out and voted one way or another regarding the special election for the override concerning the Newburyport’s public schools.
And the great thing that happened is that so many people paid attention, made room in their busy lives, and became involved in their hometown of Newburyport, MA.
I think both of those “tipping points,” education and an antipathy towards raising taxes are not going to go away.
And I’m still hoping for a win-win situation. And if Massachusetts Stand for Children (www.stand.org/ma) is at all sound, it might be a way to unite those two tipping points. Could you imagine even 25% of Newburyport, MA fighting for educational reform on the state level. Good grief. Wow.
And this Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 6 PM there will be a meeting on Newburyport’s downtown waterfront, at Somerby’s landing. The meeting is organized by Dominique Dear. Ms Dear, who has organized town forums, hopes that the city of Newburyport, MA could work towards common goals and a meeting of the minds on the issue of a financial approach towards education in Newburyport, MA.
(Editor’s Note: Quotations are taken from the Transcript of “Bill Moyers talks with Jon Stewart,” April 27, 2007, © Public Affairs Television 2007, www.pbs.org. Please press here to read the entire transcript of that remarkable interview.)