If you've been following the news for the past couple of weeks, you may have heard about Jon Stewart, an activist, and comedian, testifying in front of Congress to permanently renew the "Zadroga Act," which provides health-related financial aid to first responders involved in the tragedy of 9/11. On June 12th, Jon delivered a 9-minute speech that is one of the rawest, emotional, and poignant speeches that I've ever heard from anyone in defense of these first responders and the respective bill. I have been a huge Jon Stewart fan, ever since he was still the host of the "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, and his speech reminded me why I loved him in the first place. In light of his recent remarks, I wanted to share a few of my favorite life lessons from Jon Stewart.
"Race is there, and it is a constant. You're tired of hearing about it? Imagine how f*cking exhausting it is living it"
I would argue that within the past five years, racism has been a constant discussion in our everyday lives. While it is isn't always easy having these discussions about racism, Jon provides some needed perspective in that talking about racism is nothing compared to having to live with it. I would recommend watching his monologue, where he first says this quote because it perfectly articulates the daily struggles of many non-white Americans deal with in this country.
"You have to be consistent with your outrage"
I love this quote because it tackles something that a lot of individuals, including myself, struggle with: hypocrisy. Often, we set up principles for ourselves, but for specific individuals or in certain situations, we veer away from those established principles. I've done this before with friends, but I have to remind myself that if I'm going to hold someone to a belief, such as honesty, I should hold everyone to that same principle. It's not easy to do, but Jon understands the importance of consistency.
"Our problems are amplified and our solutions are simplified and that's why they won't work"
While Jon was speaking in the context of how we solve problems regarding healthcare, religion, and others, I think that this observation can be directly related to issues in our own lives. Often, we look for short cuts or simple ways to fix things and they may not always be the most beneficial to fixing a problem. Jon reminds us that sometimes, the scope of a problem has to be accounted for and coming up with an appropriate solution takes time and effort.