Children, Shootings,
and Communal Dance
By Dina Franz

When shots rang out at a Los Angeles Jewish daycare center a few hours ago, the children there had the "opportunity" to be very brave. A psychologist on TV has been talking about the repercussions for these kids.  He talked about their world no longer being "safe." It is the way he and the parents and community will think and act now that concerns me. If the parents decide that, since the shooting, this school is not safe--then what place will ever feel safe for these kids? If the parents (or the police) keep these kids away from the school and from their teachers and peers, how will they process and assimilate what has happened? Where and whom can the injured return to? If we put schools under high security, what kind of life are we subjecting our kids to and what are we telling them about the world?

Already in a high school in Wisconsin, on the same day as the shooting in LA, there was a "practice" assault in which students and police "prepared" themselves for the possibility of such an event in their town. What are we doing? What kind of a world are  we making? How can we reverse this rapid march toward a police state--a phrase I am hearing more and more often in the media?

And what if we practised for something else? What if all this meditation and yoga we have been practising to harmonise and strengthen the mind and body has been too self-centered? What if we "practised" community forms of these things? What if we held gatherings to explore the myths we are living by and to dance together with our bodies to "practice" our ways of being together? The Findhorn people say that community dances work on the earth the way acupuncture works on a human being--the ley lines are positively affected and harmony (in the sense of unanimity rather than uniformity) is supported.

I am reminded of a Star Trek episode in which the "enemy" was an entity which literally fed on the agressiveness of its victims. The more they tried to destroy it, the stronger it got. The team had to consciously keep themselves from having any negative thoughts towards it. They had to "starve" it with positive, loving, inclusive thoughts. Here is a myth which seems valuable to me today. The phrase "pay attention" comes up. Could we literally pay now with attention to each other and prevent the horrible fees levied on us when we have to wipe the blood of one child off the face of another? Blood spilled perhaps because some "poor" person (man, I guess mostly) didn't get enough attention somewhere (or everywhere) in his life?

I do not advocate so much for "safety." It is a notion which is utopian.  Living is not a particularly safe thing to do. We are, by nature, vulnerable. However, it seems to me that there are ways to live which glorify life rather than  "preparing" to face attacks, or recoiling into hiding after facing one. Our culture is sorely in need of the "how-to's" of this kind of living. The monotheisms are full of rules about what NOT to do. Where are the bits about what TO do?  HOW do we practice community yoga? HOW do we go about loving our enemies? The myths are full of blood and gore, and violence  exists in the world--is part of it. The myths are also full of transformations in the face of attack. I think of the women who have become trees or reeds. I think of my roses. They did not stop their flowering when the children were shot. I hope that people and communities will not stop their flowering either. The children would suffer much more in the long run from that than from the trauma they have undergone.

Dina Franz
10 August 1999

Text © 1999 Dina Franz. 

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