Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of humanity, connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, 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 team, community and people. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.
March 13, 2014
Tango Is the Search of a Dream
Tango contains the longing, dream and hope of the early immigrants to Argentina. (See Tango: The Historical and Cultural Impacts.) It is a utopia where brotherly love, intimacy, affinity and kindness triumph over animosity, prejudice, hatred and injuries, where masculinity and femininity complement each other and bring out the best in each other, where peace and harmony are achieved through submission, agreement, cooperation and accommodation rather than contest, competition, hostility and aggression, and where people can enjoy a temporary relief from the strifes and sufferings of the modern world.
Those who think of modernization as a progress overlooked its down side. Modernization is also a dehumanization process that makes the individuals increasingly self-sufficient, independent, egocentric, arrogant and aggressive. It weakens the natural bond that united people, shifts their attention from common cause to self-interests, and deviates them from the solidarity and cooperation that they used to enjoy. The mutual attachment, fraternity, interdependence and care among people have faded away. Family and society are disintegrated. Common values and common cause are lost. Natural resources are exhausted. The environment has suffered irreversible damage. Egoism, individualism, feminism, division, disagreement, disunity, polarization, animosity, divorce, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, single-parent family, materialism, competition, stress, corruption, psychological imbalance, violence, cruelty and crimes become the new norms. In short, humanity has been replaced by modernity.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, inequality and polarization. Those who regard modernization as a progress need to reflect on the reality. Is modernity at the cost of humanity and the 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 today's postmodern world, 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, modernization is like a fatal attraction that causes us to lose the essence of being human. What happened to our sanity? Why an intelligent species who have invented computers, internet and GPS couldn't build a world for ourselves that makes more sense? (See The World Needs a Different Philosophy.)
I believe this universal reflection on modernity versus humanity, 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, fraternity, cooperation and harmony. Today's tango dancers are searching for the same dream, I believe. People who have the fortune to get involved in tango must take the responsibility to preserve this sanctuary for mankind. We not only need to teach others how to dance tango but also teach its ideas, because without these ideas tango, too, would be assimilated by the world. (See The Freedom in Tango.)