I have nothing to say about whether or not "A Day Without Immigrants" made a positive or negative impact on the question of how the federal government should deal with the huge population of undocumented aliens in this country. I'll leave that debate to other commentators.
Regardless of how you feel about the event, one conclusion is obvious. Using the theme of "A Day Without" as a lens to focus national attention on a specific subject is a great idea, and could serve as a template for expanding public awareness about other issues that affect daily life in America but never rise anywhere close to the "hot button" level. Here are my top three examples:
"A Day Without Speeding." How hard could this be? I would promote it as a combination of public safety and homeland security. If all drivers would strictly obey every posted speed limit on highways, downtown, on neighborhood streets, and in parking lots for one 24-hour cycle, the benefits would be enormous.
I'd also include some extra components to the campaign such as "Don't Try to Beat Red Lights, Either," and "Avoid Honking The Horn Unless Absolutely Necessary." In addition to reducing collisions and saving fuel, this day would be a huge morale booster for police officers, ambulance crews, and tow-truck operators.
"A Day Without Losing Your Temper." A higher degree of difficulty here, and I know that from personal experience. When something goes wrong at home or on the job, there may be brief satisfaction in yelling or kicking the furniture, but erupting with anger usually doesn't do anything to resolve the problem. In many cases it makes the situation more unpleasant.
The role model I use when trying to maintain my composure is legendary baseball manager Connie Mack, who was famous for staying calm in stressful circumstances. A player on his Philadelphia Athletics team once hit a towering drive that should have been a sure triple. But the batter was not a fast runner and ended up being thrown out easily as he plodded into third base. Instead of berating the embarrassed fellow in front of the team, Connie simply told him, "If you hit another triple, please stop at second base."
"A Day Without Having All The Answers." I would like to get a break from hearing anyone speak the phrase, "Here's what you're doing wrong." Right now the US is jampacked with citizens who believe they can pinpoint the cause of every single problem in existence and then solve it on the spot. Some are cheery about it, and others are snide and/or hostile. They need to be quiet sometimes and use their ears instead of their voices, and this day would give them a chance to engage in silent introspection.
It would also mean that political talk shows on radio, network TV, and cable channels would be forced to flip the "off" switch temporarily and give us all a break from their relentless cavalcade of opinions, analysis, and prognostications.
I wonder how would average Americans react to such a collective pundit pause? Would it be a day of angry protests, or joyful celebrations?
• Jeffrey Shaffer writes about media, American culture, and personal history.