by Christine Sine.
This week I have been struggling. How can I celebrate this summer when so many are still dying of COVID I wonder? How can I plan a vacation when so many are being evicted from their homes? How can I rejoice with my own peaceful and comfortable existence when there is still so much violence in our world? I want to enjoy my new found freedom but not at the expense of those who have been marginalized by the pandemic.
A couple of years ago when I struggled with similar issues I came across this inspiring article Fight Fascism with A Dance Party. in Yes Magazine. It made me wonder: What are the unconventional and maybe overlooked ways to reconciliation that help turn hatred into love. What could I do this summer that will bring light and joy into the dark places of violence, aggression and displacement?
Here is a list of a few that come to mind for me:
- Let’s dance and sing together. I have known for a long time that singing together can lower aggression, improve mood and make people more cooperative, but had not realized (though I should have) that dance can do the same thing! No wonder David danced before the Lord. One of my most powerful memories of the last Wild Goose festival I was able to attend was of the final session where we all sang and danced together, holding hands across race, sexual orientation, and faith persuasions with young and old, rich and poor, well known and unknown. It was a profound experience that broke down barriers, and established new friendships. So I think that it is time that we all deliberately planned some gatherings across a broad swathe of society – rich and poor, young and old, from every ethnic group and every sexual persuasion we can find and plan a singing, dancing festival. I think we will be amazed at what results.
- Let’s eat together. Jesus loved to bring together people from different political and social backgrounds. He ate with the poor and the marginalized as well as the rich and the powerful, sometimes bringing both groups together in ways that made people uncomfortable but definitely helped to break down the barriers that separated them. No wonder the kingdom of God is often portrayed as a great banquet feast when all are welcomed to the table. One of my strongest symbols of summer is hospitality and as Tom and I prepare to re-engage with friends around BBQs and backyard gatherings this year I am hoping that we will be able to bring together people with different viewpoints so that we can learn from each other.
- Let’s play together. Unstructured play adds joy to life, relieves stress, supercharges learning, and connects us to others and the world around you in non threatening and barrier breaking ways. When we play well together we bond together, replace negative beliefs and behaviours with positive thoughts and actions and heal emotional wounds. I still remember a friend talking about their unfruitful attempts to connect to people in a poor community in London until one hot summer’s day a water fight broke out. By the end of the afternoon barriers had dropped and new friendships were created. I talk a lot in my latest book The Gift of Wonder about the need for play and creative ways to have fun together. You can also explore these in the online course The Gift of Wonder that we created last year. So as you get out there and have some fun this summer consider ways that you can use this to spread joy and peace and love to those who are suffering.
- Let’s work together. I have often observed that community gardens are a wonderful way to bring together people from different backgrounds – race, age, faith, sexual orientation, but other forms of community work can do the same thing. So think about what you could do together with others in your community – maybe a neighbourhood clean up day, or a building project in the local playground, or creating an art mural. The possibilities are limitless, the challenge is making sure that the attendees are diverse. It might mean some good leg work on your part, visiting local houses of worship, community centres, shops and coffee shops to let everyone know they are welcome.
What Is Your Response?
Watch the video below created by One Billion Rising, an organization that focuses on the need to end the exploitation of women. It uses dance as an effective tool to get the message across. I found this video powerful. As you watch it reflect on what you could do to break down barriers across race, culture, gender and age with the use of dance, song, or community gatherings
Could you create or participate in events that bring people together to sing, dance, play, eat or work? How could you help break down barriers to hatred, violence, discrimination, injustice by your actions?