Virtual Voices

Taking out the trash

Campaign 2010

After last weekend's One Nation Working Together rally, internet surfers had the opportunity to enjoy comparison photos of 10/2 and 8/28 (the Restoring Honor rally spearheaded by Glenn Beck). The August shots show crowds packing the National Mall on both sides of the reflecting pool. Last weekend they filled the area in front of the Lincoln Memorial but not much else. The other set of photos was just as telling, in its way: scenes of the Mall and surrounding areas after the events. The "honors" (for ease of naming) carried their trash away or packed it in white garbage bags for the sanitation department to pick up. The "togethers" left their evidence: signs, placards, leaflets, buttons, stickers, remnants of box lunches provided by the unions.

Since the Working Together rally was largely union-organized, maybe they were just providing work for the unionized city sanitation workers. Or they were hoping their voices would still be heard through ideological literature after their physical presence was gone. Or maybe they thought that after showing up their job was done-let somebody else clean up the mess.

I make no personal judgments about the attendees of the Working Together rally, and certainly they had as much right to be there as the Restoring Honor folks. Many of them probably hauled their own trash away, and I'm sure most of them leave their own homes in a neater condition than the National Mall. But that in itself is rather telling, isn't it? They take ownership of their homes but not of their government. Their government exists to give them stuff, meet their demands, ensure a decent living standard-and their only obligation toward government is to make sure it provides. Might it be said that the attendees of the August rally take ownership of their government as well? Or at least that's what they're trying to do? They made sure that the Mall, a national icon of peaceful assembly, was in as good a shape (or almost) when they left as it was when they arrived. They extend responsibility past their own noses. May their tribe increase.

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Editor's note: WORLDmag.com is pleased to have WORLD columnist Janie B. Cheaney join our roster of online news analysts and commentators.

Janie B. Cheaney
Janie B. Cheaney

Janie lives in Missouri, is a columnist for WORLD, writes novels for young adults, and is the author of the Wordsmith creative writing series. She also reviews books at RedeemedReader.com. Follow Janie on Twitter @jbcheaney.

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