Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do You Hear the People... Swing?

I have recently seen an excellent movie. It is called "Swing Kids" (starring I really don't know who). It takes place in Nazi Germany, among the German people, and centers for the most part around a group of teenage boys who don't want to conform with Hitler's rule. They refuse to join the HJ (Hitler Jugen, or Hitler Youth), wear their hair long, dress like English kids, and listen to American music. Their biggest act of rebellion, however, is...

Swing Dancing.

That's right. They make their stand against Hitler by getting together on weekends to dance. It's resistance that isn't just peaceful and nonviolent, but also fun. Protest evil in the world by doing the Charleston. Or singing Django Reinhardt music. Or listening to good records.

Some people do the same today. Music and dancing have often been forms of rebellion or protest over the past century. Teenagers listen to music their parents don't approve of, just to say that they can do what they want, or go to dances where such music is played. Women in South America living under tyrranical rule, whose husbands, sons, and friends had been murdered, rebelled by going out into the streets together and dancing - an act which the guards and soldiers could not punish.   Civil rights activists sang as they marched in the streets, "We shall overcome!"

However, while it is easy to sing and dance, it is not always easy to stand up for what you believe. The Swing Kids were beaten, imprisoned, shipped to work camps, and even killed for dancing against Nazi command. The women in South America were left without husbands and fathers, alone against opression. The civil rights movement was stained with the blood of unpunished murders, terrible abuse, imprisonment, and martyrdom.

But they all did it anyway. In spite of threats of pain, prison, and death, they continued to sing and dance. And, eventually, their songs and dances were not in vain. Change came, and the world was made better for their work and sacrifice.

A wise man in my life - my father - said it this way. The only way for evil to gain power in the world "is if good men and women do nothing." It is easy to sit in our homes, surrounded by close friends and family, and say, "I don't like the way things are going." That is what many Germans did during the Nazi regime. But to step outside the door and raise your voice against evil for all the world to hear... that takes great courage, and it is the only thing that will make a difference in the end.

Mohamas K. Ghandi, the originator of peacful nonviolent resistance and one of the greatest men of the last century, said that we must "Be the change you want to see in the world." He is right. If we want change to happen, the only way is to make it happen ourselves. It is easy to think, "I am only one person. Nothing I do will make any difference, so why worry?" This is why - in "Swing Kids," the father of the main character said in a letter, "We must all take responsibility for what is happening in our country. If those of use who have a voice do not raise it in outrage at the treatment of our fellow human beings we will have collaborated in their doom."

You have a voice. We, who live in the freeset nation on earth, have voices. Raise them in outrage against wrongs, and in praise for that which is right. If enough voices join the chorus, change will happen, and the world will become as we know it should be. We will become the change.

Raise your voice in outrage for that which is wrong, and in praise for what is right. You don't have to be a politician, humanitarian worker, public speaker, or anything else to make a change. Sing. Dance. Paint. Write. Play sports. Whatever it is you do, do it while keeping in mind the reaons why you are doing it, and what you believe in. I, for one, will be on the dance floor, doing the lindy hop with all of my heart. "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing..."

'Til next time, my friends...

1 comment:

  1. What a clever title! You always have great insights.
    love, mom