Song and Dance could save humanity someday. Read on to consider why.
| I believe that the survival of the human race is incumbent on song and dance. Song and dance are treated, these days, as superfluous activities by many, activities for entertainment and enjoyment but not much more. I would like to suggest that when song and dance are undertaken at the right time and with the right attitude, they can be tools of immense healing, unification, joy, peace, and fellowship.
It seems that for most indigenous cultures, song and dance are used primarily for spiritual purposes. It is a way of praying, much of the time—for rain, successful crops, a successful hunt, a happy marriage, a healthy child, healing, success in war (security)... It also seems common in indigenous cultures to sing and dance in celebration, which can also be thought of as a prayer, if done in that spirit. Sometimes drugs or alcohol are used in celebrations, and to me, this makes the occasion less prayerful, though perhaps some people feel otherwise. I certainly do not consider myself an expert on the indigenous cultures of the world; I am just a middle-aged woman with some life experience traveling and talking to people of different cultures. I also enjoy reading books which reveal different aspects of indigenous cultures; but that is where my expertise ends.
Anyway, let's compare and contrast what seems to be a pattern in indigenous life to what takes place in modern society. I admit this will be difficult, as song and dance occur in so many different forms and scenarios in “modern life,” and it seems they hardly ever occur together... that is, the people are engaged in singing (as a choir), or listening to singing and perhaps joining in (as in a rock concert), or dancing together (as the dance club scene), or watching dance (as the ballet show). But it seems that less frequently are “modern people” actually singing and dancing at the same time. The rock concert is one place where this definitely does occur, at least for several songs at the end of the show; but many of the people are quite intoxicated and/or high on drugs at that point, and what kind of words are being sung? Most of the time we could hardly call this situation a spiritual event, unless perhaps it is a drug- and alcohol-free Christian rock concert, or a kirtan, or a concert of new-age spiritual music. And how could one ever call the party atmosphere taking place in a dance club a spiritual experience? Granted, healing, joy, peace, and unity could all take place there, but the majority of the people are not having a prayerful experience.
Of course, in the United States in this day and age, it seems like most young people are looking for sensual, worldly experiences: drinking, taking drugs, having sex, eating food which tastes great (without regard for its nutritional value), listening to music (without regard for the thoughts or emotions which are invoked in the listening). Many young people in the United States are not yet to the point of seeking healing, true joy, peace, and unity. My point is that the concerts and clubs really do serve these young people what they want.
My concern is the middle-aged and older folks who are at a point where they really desire, crave, and need healing, true joy, peace, and unity. Many of these people have never become comfortable singing and dancing. They did not do this as a child; they were not raised this way. They can find true joy, peace, and unity in religion—perhaps—at least once a week. They may even find the healing they need through their religion. But to me, modern religious gatherings are often intellectual experiences, which are hopefully joyful and usually unifying. But dancing does not generally occur, and singing may be anywhere from nonexistent, to weak and pointless, to powerful. One cannot begin to compare the modern “church” (whatever the religion or denomination) to the spiritual ceremonies of song and dance of indigenous people.
This is my main point. As a society we have forsaken something which is incredibly important if we are to truly flourish in health, joy, and peace; especially in situations of danger and uncertainty. If we do not sing and dance with others—if we are uncomfortable doing so—we cannot call upon that special medicine in times of need. It is like magic, to sing and dance together prayerfully. Even to just sing together with passion and fervor, or to just dance that way. Any number of calamities might occur to any of us at any time, and the power of song and dance could quite possibly be our salvation, as a community or even individually. Just to be able to let go and sing and dance in privacy is a great accomplishment today!
I ask that my readers just take some time now and then to develop their singing voices and move their bodies. I don't believe anyone when they say they cannot sing. It is simply a skill which may be largely undeveloped, but song is a human capacity, like the capacity for speech! Dance is the same; it is a skill largely undeveloped in some folks, but if it is pursued it can be learned, without any teacher, and the benefits are unimaginable when these skills are developed to a great extent.
Even when I am alone, when I sing passionately with a prayer in my heart, or dance with true joy and radiance, I feel that the effect on myself—and on humanity—is immense. I only wish that all people could experience this wonderful, incredible, transformative act.
September 8th, 2014