Dance, dammit!

People squawk and argue over all sorts of things involving politics. And over which way society is going (who knew it was traveling anywhere? it always seems to be still where it always was, right outside my door, every time I step out!). And they very righteously sound off over exactly which people, and where, we should be going around the world to kill, and why, because supposedly that’s a good thing to do for world peace. And why one people (say, Israelis) deserve a peaceful, safe homeland, while others (say, Palestinians) maybe don’t. (But few people sound off on why the people whom this country shoved off onto desolate outback reserves don’t deserve to get their homelands back.)

And some people loudly and proudly want to drill, and mine, and deforest, and overfish, and pollute, and overdevelop, and acidify the oceans, and demolish wetlands and rivers and pretty much anywhere we haven’t yet installed strip malls or fast food or mega industry or mega churches—all because “the world was given to us to use” (as if it’s okay to use up, because maybe there are more worlds where this one came from, when we’ve used it up; probably, they are available at WalMart, or maybe World Market).

And others simply cannot believe people want to undermine the institution of marriage, which of course has taken about as many forms as there have been cultures and eras in human history, but apparently now there is only one acceptable form for that: the traditional, biblical form—which nonetheless has a rather minority representation in the actual Bible, where most of its most highly respected figures were in poly-person marriages (plus sometimes including others in the multiple relationship, whom they weren’t even married to). (Those same objecting people also don’t seem ready to explain how their own marriages are apparently on such shaky ground that someone else’s marriage would somehow threaten their own; but perhaps they should be shown compassion and provided good counseling.)

And some of those same people are afraid that those others might hurt the military service where they have always been courageously helping, if everyone knew they were there helping just as they have always done (and which most others in the service have known anyway)—and just like they do in most of our friends’ military services, without it causing problems for anyone. (I wonder why those fearful protesters, some of whom are in military service themselves, don’t have the same courage that those other people in the service do.)

Meanwhile, back in the politics arena, very loud and sincere voices are lamenting the threat of having more of life, such as healthcare, “taken over by the government”, or of giving handouts to undeserving out-of-work people, while the preferable situation of people being unable to afford healthcare for themselves and their children, or to find work and keep a roof over their heads and food on their table, continues and worsens, yet our freedoms are preserved, and individual initiative is triumphantly reinforced even if it kills us, so this is worth it.

And some who name the name of Christ are sputteringly outraged at the dilution of his message by those who aim to promote justice in society for the poor, ill, oppressed, and disadvantaged, while others who name the name of Christ are looking at his book-length message that overwhelmingly advocates care for the poor, ill, oppressed, and disadvantaged, and are going out to do that in any way they can find (including trying to get the government to lend a hand, where there just aren’t enough charities or individual giving to reach everyone).

And religions are mad at each other, and some different skin colors are mad at each other (I wonder if they would still be mad at each other at midnight on a cloudy, moonless night, when they couldn’t even see each other’s color?), and some people who speak one language are mad at people who speak others instead of the “official” one (even though seo an tír na saoraigh í—labhair cibé teanga do rogha rud [Irish: this is the land of the free—speak whatever language you want]!) (plus, English, as it’s spoken today, is pretty different from the way it was spoken in, say, 1776, not to mention the wild variety of ways it’s spoken just in this country, let alone in all other English-speaking lands, so what “official language” are they talking about?), and the descendants of belligerently illegal immigrants (invaders, actually) are mad at newcomers who, they have decided, are immigrating here illegally (just not as belligerently invading—maybe they would respect the newcomers more, if they followed historical tradition by trying to belligerently invade?).

Well—there could be worse responses to all this than to love one another, even in the midst of all our squawking and arguing and litigating and protesting and politicking and preaching and warring and misunderstanding. In fact any efforts at reaching out, bridging gaps, dismantling walls (on borders and everything), speaking universal languages like music and dance, finding and focusing on more of the things we all have in common instead of kvetching at all the things we have in difference, and learning we really are one family put on our one planet together—any efforts to find ways we can help each other, and thus ourselves, grow stronger, healthier, more peaceful, more loving of one another and of the creation we live in, stronger as communities and as a planet—maybe, just maybe, those efforts would enable us to rise above and move beyond some of the things we squawk and fight about. We could do very worse than to come together like that.

Even with our incomplete, goofy, fumbling attempts at reaching out and joining together, still we can see in ourselves, and show to others, the joy and grace of life in this beautiful and peculiar world we were given, and that we help to make—and I don’t know of many better pictures of the grace of God joining with the genuine heart of humankind, in our goofy, fumbling celebration of life, than this one in a video that you’ve probably seen before (but is always worth passing around again!).

I don’t care what arguments we have, or who thinks they have better solutions for anything in the world—dance, dammit, and celebrate life, and love one another! It’s hard not to love one another when you’re just throwing yourself into dancing like a goofy fool. And we’ll get the rest worked out from there a lot more easily!

(Here are the Bengali lyrics to the video’s song, “Praan”, which were adapted from the poem “Stream of Life”, by Rabindranath Tagore [1861-1941]—English translation following. That is the author’s translation from his original, in the collection Gitanjali [Song Offerings].)

Bhulbona ar shohojete
Shei praan e mon uthbe mete
Mrittu majhe dhaka ache
je ontohin praan

Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami
repeat 2x)

Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
dao more shei gaan

Shei jhor jeno shoi anonde
Chittobinar taare
Shotto-shundu dosh digonto
Nachao je jhonkare!

Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami
repeat 3x)

Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami

Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
dao more shei gaan

“Stream of Life”

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

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4 Responses to Dance, dammit!

  1. Janet Conrad says:

    “Don’t worry so much and let go” is an attitude that God has been impressing upon me over the last couple of weeks. The cares of the this world are heavy. Are we carrying them? We shouldn’t be. Be free to just BE. Make mistakes, put your foot in your mouth, dance without reserve, express yourself and stop holding back – this is what has been speaking to me. Your last post (and now this one) confirms. I agree. Dance, damn it!! Get up! Don’t look around or think about it. Look up to the sky and smile. Let go. Yell, cry, laugh! Don’t worry about doing it the right way – just do it. Thanks for the encouragement, Roger.

  2. I’m glad that has that effect on you Janet, that’s what I had hoped it would spread around a little—! And yeah, dance including when we trip over our own feet or sometimes step on a few toes unintentionally (apologies are part of the dance, too). Kids rolling down a grassy hill are dancing, in a way busy people threading their way down a crowded city sidewalk or throuhg a jammed mall at Christmastime are in a dance, too. Getting up from work every so often to stretch, breathe deep, go outside, take a view out the window are all dance steps that keep things more in rhythm. Buying that ghastly delectable gooey dessert once in a while, instead of “being good” this time, is a merry dance step! Corporate types need to take time out at a park to blow soap bubbles with little kids, people working around the house need to go throw themselves headlong into surf (well, deep enough to do that in, not looking for a headplant in the sand) or float down a stretch of river or walk through deep foliage that brushes around them (unless it’s poison oak!). I know of a church that got uninvited from its denomination’s retreat center, because at their yearly women’s retreat, a raucous, merry food fight broke out in the dining hall—started (I have it on good authority) by the senior pastor’s wife. Now that’s dancing for you! Drawing the whole group of women into it too! (Frankly, there should be more pastor’s wives, and more churches, like that, if you ask me.)

  3. Floyd Miller says:

    Roger, thank you for this video link! This has to be the most pure expression of joy I have ever seen. I am simultaneously smiling and bawling my eyes out. With all the junk going on in DC and the Mideast and elsewhere, I needed this. I came to your blog via the Christian Left Facebook page.

    BTW, have you noticed how the Bengali singer sounds so much like Enya? I thought Enya had found another language to sing in (Enya even has languages created just for her to sing in). This has to be one of the best songs I have ever heard in its tune and joy. I will be humming it in my sleep tonight.

    • Thanks Floyd — this video of Matt Harding’s, with the lyrical song, is one of my perennial faves too (it’s my favorite of his videos, mainly for the song expressing the joy of all the people dancing). Every so often, I have to go back to it, post it on my Facebook page for others, or share it somehow.

      The singer, Palbasha Siddique, does have a similar quality in her voice to Enya — in fact, for over 15 years now I’ve preferred to listen to songs with lyrics (when they have lyrics) in other languages than English, and music from cultures all around the world, because somehow that stretches your mind and deepens your sense of the vast otherness of the world, of the rest of life, that we’re a part of. Music is expression, and some sense of what its conveying (which will be different to each listener) will touch something in your soul; if there are vocals they will resonate with something in your heart, even if you have no idea what the lyrics mean.

      (I once wrote an article, in print not online — in fact the Internet had just appeared, so there was no YouTube to link interesting songs or videos to anyway — where I tried to convey to readers the mystery and exaltation that can be conveyed through music from other cultures, through singing in other languages. I think I mostly confused everyone.) 😉

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