Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating culture, idea, lifestyle, and philosophy. In many ways, tango is a metaphor of life. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, beauty, harmony and humanity, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. We are humanists. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation and compromise. If you share this conviction, please join the conversation and let your voice be heard, which is urgently needed and long overdue.
Together we can awaken the world.
March 13, 2014
Tango Is the Search of a Dream
Argentine tango reflects and expresses the nostalgia, longing and hope of its creators - the early immigrants to Argentina. (See Tango: The Historical and Cultural Impacts.) A milonga is like a utopia, where brotherly love, fellowship, intimacy and comfort triumph over prejudice, hatred, animosity and injury, where masculinity and femininity compliment each other and bring out the best in each other, and where peace and harmony are achieved through cooperation, accommodation and compromise, not competition, confrontation and power struggle. It is like an oasis in which we can enjoy a temporary relief from the stressful modern-day life.
Those who think of modernization as a progress often overlooked its down side. In fact, modernization is a dehumanization process that is leading mankind farther and farther away from nature and humanity. Modern science and technology have empowered individuals and made them increasingly self-sufficient, independent, egocentric, arrogant and aggressive. It diminishes the human bond that united people, shifts our attention away from our common cause to personal interests, and deprives us from the connection, cooperation and fraternity that we used to enjoy and share. The mutual attachments, interdependence and care among people are fading, gender roles are transforming, family is disintegrating, the environment is suffering irreversible damage, natural resources are depleting, the harmony between man and nature is disappearing, and the societies are increasingly demoralizing and polarizing. Individualism, feminism, homosexualism, divorce, same-sex marriage, single-parent family, materialism, competition, stress, psychological imbalance, violence, cruelty, corruption and crime grow in intensity. In short, humanity is being replaced by modernity. (See Tango and Individualism.)
The popularity of tango in the contemporary world is a profound phenomenon. We dream of a society that is equal, fair, friendly, cooperative, orderly and harmonious, like a well-organized milonga, not one that is driven by self-interests and imbued with competition, hostility, injury, stress, madness and polarization. Is modernity at the cost of humanity and environment worth pursuing? A blogger wrote, "The world is like water and mankind is like ink. What men do to the world is like what the ink does to the water. With the passage of time, the ink only makes the water muddier, not clearer. Comparing to the postmodern world of today, the past is simpler, purer, hence better." A woman wrote, "In modern-day life, we are centered around our work, which demands aggression. But if we keep being aggressive in our marriage, constantly fighting for self-interests and pushing our partner to make concessions until he gives up, then such marriage can only create an unhappy person." A Facebook friend wrote, "How many American businessmen lie in a hospital bed, after their heart attack, before they look around and ask themselves, 'How did I end up spending my life this way... working too many hours... the love of my life is a stranger, if we haven't divorced... I missed my children growing up because I worked too much... I spent my lifetime, not with my friends, but pursuing financial security... and in the end, I ended up here?'" Indeed, modern life is like a fatal attraction that causes us to lose the essence of being human. What happened to our intelligence and sanity? Why couldn't we create a world that makes more sense? (See The World Needs a Different Philosophy.)
I believe this universal reflection on modern living and the nature of being human, this yearning for a balanced life and a harmonious society, is not irrelevant to the revival of tango today. One hundred years ago, immigrants far away from home created this dance in which they placed their dream, a dance full of human spirit and beauty, a dance that highlights human connection, cooperation, complement and harmony. Today's tangueros and tangueras are searching for the same dream, I believe. People who love tango has a responsibility to preserve this sanctuary for the mankind. We not only need to teach people how to dance tango, but also need to teach them its ideas, because without which tango would be assimilated by the world as well. (See The Freedom in Tango.)