“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love” – Martin Luther King Jr.
By this time, I’m sure that most of the dance world has already heard about the terror attack in Nice. It’s not the first, and it’s very likely not the last.
Horrible things are happening daily. There is a dark side to this world, where some countries suffer so much regular violence that reporting it isn’t even a news highlight unless more than a hundred have died.
There are places where people are killed for their skin color, culture, religion, sexual orientation – or simply because someone hated too much. So many just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; caught in an avalanche of violence no one could predict.
And still, we dance.
We travel, despite the fact that we know airports have been targets of terror in the past. We attend socials in our cities to laugh and play. We create international networks of friends – friends that we worry about when something goes wrong ‘in their part of the world’.
In most cases, we eliminate the boundaries that separate people in the ‘real world’. We dance with all religions, races, cultures, languages – and all else. We still have problems; everyone does. But, for the most part, we exist in a peaceful mirror of the world. For the most part, we exist in a place where people use words – not guns.
And still, the world goes on outside.
For me, it’s sometimes a guilty feeling to know that I have been largely insulated from what is happening ‘out there’. It feels as though I don’t think about the victims enough. It seems as though dancing is superficial in a world of such conflict; like dancing is a way to escape from unpleasant thoughts about things that did not happen to me.
It’s a terrible Catch-22. In our minds, we know that it could happen anywhere at anytime. We know it could – in theory – happen to us. We know it could happen to people we care about. But, we can’t spend all our time thinking about it. We cannot be paralyzed by fear and grief.
We can’t stop living, loving, and dancing.
Dancing may not be the game-changer in this world. Dancing will not stop wars or terrorism – but it can rescue someone, on a smaller scale.
It can create a safe place for someone with depression. It can be a mode to create global communities and dispel even a bit of fear or hatred. It can raise money to help those in need, or reach out to those who cannot help themselves. It can be a place to explore identity and growth – or slow a degenerative disease.
There is a power in what we do – if we choose to use it.
But, we shouldn’t forget the world outside. We mustn’t. We should dance precisely to prove the hatred and fear wrong. We can dedicate our dances to undoing hate and terror. We can dedicate our dances to those who have lost their life simply for trying to live. We can dance towards peace.
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr
Every time the world finds joy, terror and hatred are weakened. Every time we help someone find themselves, we take power away from the darkness. Every time we offer community to someone who is lost, we take a potential victim away from harm.
We don’t have the power to save the world – but we do have the power to add just a little bit more light to the darkness.