Dance Lessons

“If you learn to dance with people, with life, then nothing wrong can happen to you.” — Hugues de Montalembert

I found this quotation on a Swan Lake Samba Girl‘s blog (by way of About Last Night). I am assuming that the Montalembert in question is the painter who was blinded during a mugging in New York, after which he travelled, wrote books, and became the subject of a doumentary titled Black Sun. (Read a recent interview here and a 2006 review here.)

It’s a nice quotation all by itself, but it dovetails nicely with my recent thoughts about what I believe to be the fundamental problem with our society today — a pervading attitude of individual entitlement and the rest of the world be damned. We’re all dancing alone.

On radio this morning I heard a story about a GOP Nanny contest to determine which republican politician has sinned most in terms of advocating for more government interference in our lifestyles, rather than less — less government intrusion being one of the basic principles of republican thought. Although I am not a republican (not sure that i am a democrat either, but that’s another topic) I am pro freedom and pro the right to make personal decisions for myself. HOWEVER I believe that the right must be moderated by consideration of others. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a thought that not only has receded from our collective consciouness, it’s been replaced by “do unto others before they do you in, and get what you can while you’re at it.”

I’m not a history buff and I’ve never studied law, but I imagine that it is after people get hurt that laws come into being to protect the rest of us from harm. With merger-mania being rampant, big business trampling mom & pop endeavors, corporate greed (perhaps driven by the need to please a few investors) disenfranchising its workers and even its customers, someone has got to draw some lines somewhere. Just a we hope that our children will play nicely, and fair, with one another, at some point a parent has to step in and protect. I’d much prefer self-regulation, but today self-regulation in the grown-up world is interpreted to mean hire a passel of lawyers to find the loopholes.

There once was a time when community worked together, helped one another as a matter of course. Perhaps such activities were fostered and held together by clergy, and maybe that’s what is driving the Christian Right. I have a spiritual side, but I am not, by any stretch of the imagaination, what you would call “a religious person.” I think that organized religions are man-made by power-seekers who, like todays regime, use fear to govern. Yet I do feel for those who seek comfort.

We hear a lot of talk today about saving our environment, reducing emmissions and such. Last night I heard the automotive industry experts opine that there was no point in making cars run more efficiently because we morons would just drive more. The solution, they say, is to drive less. Okay, but now that the majority of workers can no longer afford to live anywhere near where they work, how are they supposed to traverse those 40, 50, 60+ miles to the job. Public transportation may be effective in New York, DC, Boston…but elsewhere….fuggedaboutit.

Some people would really like to help others in need but most either can’t or don’t know how. Some see problems as so big that they can’t conceive of how they, as individuals, could make much of a difference. Some are just one step ahead of the game and struggling to stay afloat themselves. That’s why we all watch Extreme Home Makeover — it makes us feel better to see that someone is getting some help. Of course I gues that’s why Survivor and such shows are also popular…we all want to believe that we can, well, survive.

But getting back to Montalembert’s quotation, I think we would all do well to learn to dance with people. And, to take it literally, I would suggest not just any dancing — I would prescribe folk dancing, square dancing, even line dancing, to foster a sense of community and sharing. Besides it’s fun.

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