I love to dance. For me dancing expresses the joy of life. Dancing brings people together. Dancing makes people happy. Many dances encourage people to hold one another, make contact, physically and emotionally. Share.
It’s hard, if not impossible to think of war or violence when you dance. Dancing makes you think about joy and love.
I particularly like to dance to swing music, Lindy Hop, Balboa and Shag are the dances I love, but I enjoy Rock and Roll too and I’ve tried Salsa, and ballroom dances like Tango, Fox Trot and Cha Cha Cha.
At school we did Country dancing, Scottish dancing, Morris dancing and I’ve even tried a traditional London dance called ‘Doing The Lambeth Walk’.
They’re all fun. Frankly if everybody danced nobody would go to war. The only logical argument against pacifism and disarmament is that it requires all countries in the world to do likewise. If you live in fear of your neighbour, you feel the need for some protection.
I dream of a mature, grown up world where no country is prepared to go to war. A world where every country cares about its neighbour’s well being, its neighbour’s economy, standard of living, health and safety as much as its own. And caring for our planet goes hand in hand with that.
For such a world to exist all people need to love their neighbour, despite religious or cultural differences.
Yesterday I had the idea for the concept ‘Dancers For Peace’. Today I am compelled to do something about it, to take action instead of just dreaming, on hearing the news that three school girls, on the way to school in Indonesia were beheaded, by a group of young men, on account of religious differences. They hadn’t even finished growing up and forming their beliefs about God, religion or nature.
Peace goes hand in hand with truth and reconciliation, three cheers for South Africa. We need to accept that others have their own way to God. That many people don’t believe in God and that is their right, debate the meaning of life, ways to find God, discuss whatever you wish with your neighbour, out of love, don’t kill him because he doesn’t agree. Whether life is a gift from God or an accident of nature, either way it is a tremendous gift. Dancing brings this truth home to people. If enough people danced, in every country in the world, if the majority in every nation danced and knew the joy and human contact, sharing and interaction it brings, if they openly declared and displayed their belief that war is wrong, then what politician or leader, religious or secular, would dare espouse war. Better still lets get the politicians dancing!
The idea behind Dancers For Peace is to take these thoughts out to the world and encourage millions more people to dance and to declare openly their opposition to conflict, their love for their neighbour. It doesn’t matter what the dance is. I would like to promote dances that bring people together, make contact, but in some countries there may be cultural or religious reasons not to, that’s fine, people can still dance and maybe we’ll help to keep some traditional dances from dying out.
To start things off, my friends and I have designed a Dancers For Peace T shirt and enclosed with every T shirt is this little leaflet explaining what it’s all about. Wear your T shirt until it’s worn out, when it is buy a new one, better still buy two, so you can wear your Dancers For Peace T shirt even when it’s in the wash!
Don’t just wear it to go dancing, although that helps too. Wear it to work, to the cinema, to parties, walking the dog and whenever someone asks you what it’s about you can tell them, or give them a leaflet, or keep a stock of T shirts and sell them one too. Then invite them to go dancing with you and don’t take no for an answer. At the dance or lesson, help them, introduce them around, demonstrate the fun to be had.
All the money from T shirt sales will get ploughed back to print more T shirts and leaflets, until we have enough money to launch Dance For Peace Day.
On Dance For Peace Day it’s hoped that dancers of all kinds, millions and millions of them will hold events in cities, towns and villages all over the world, ideally, in every country in the world, yes every country. It’s a high target. These events should be in public wherever possible, free lessons, free shows. Get on your local television channel if you can. Take the Dancers For Peace message out to more and more new people every year. When more than fifty percent of the population in every country, province, town and state in the world dance frequently, there just might be a world without war. A world of joy, friendship and love.
We may inspire others with other interests to form their own peace movements too, who knows, Athletes For Peace, Footballers for Peace, Skiers for Peace, Sailors for Peace, Motorcyclists for Peace, Chess Players For Peace, over generations we may help to change attitudes for ever.
In the words of veteran peace campaigner and musician Arlo Guthrie, they may call it a movement and friends that’s what it is.
Since writing this somewhat emotional piece I had the idea for a World Peace Foundation. The germ of which idea appears in the last but one paragraph above. It’s probably unrealistic to get the whole world to dance for peace, but it’s not unrealistic to attach the peace message to other peaceful pursuits and hobbies so that everyone can join in. Dancers For Peace though, is still, to my mind, a wonderful idea and a great starting point. A Dance For Peace Day, with at least one dance in every country of the world from North Korea and Iran to Greenland and South Africa is a tough but achievable goal and a terribly powerful media opportunity.
Please read this in conjunction with World Peace Foundation.
WORLD PEACE FOUNDATION
My idea for a World Peace Foundation grew out of my previous idea for Dancer’s For Peace and from listening to a radio debate about the United Nations. On the radio some people supported the UN, some thought it a waste of time. Others said well it’s the best we’ve got, which is true, but it needn’t be.
The UN is a club of governments, which means political self interest, even if there are some very good people there. Furthermore, it’s a club without equality, as the select governments in the ‘Security Council’ will never relinquish their advantageous position. What about CND then? Surely real power rests with the people? In the end I believe it does. However, in recent years, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament seems to have ground to a halt. One still sees the famous logo sometimes, most frequently in graffiti, but that’s about all. However, nuclear arms proliferate in many countries around the globe. More than this, conventional weapons now have terrible power too.
What is needed is not just an end to nuclear weapons, but an end to war. When I was young it was still politically correct to hold beauty contests such as Miss UK and Miss World. It became part of the formula for the compére to interview the girls at the end and ask them what they wanted. World peace was a common answer and the grown ups chuckled to see such naiveté. Yet what more honourable goal is there? Given world peace, how much easier will it be to feed everyone, educate everyone and find ways to protect the planet.
When Tony Blair announced his intention to take the British nation to war in Iraq there was a huge demonstration against the proposed action, probably by over a million people, certainly the biggest demonstration London had ever seen. It was not enough. What would happen though if eighty or ninety percent of a nation’s population openly expressed anti war feelings. What leader, be they democratically elected, religious or even a dictator could lead their country to war with those numbers ranged against. What if recruitment to the armed services simply dried up. Everywhere.
I can understand a young man’s thirst for adventure and the armed forces offer that, I applied myself as a teenager and fortunately failed to get in. Since then I’ve discovered lots of ways to have adventure and excitement, without being a marine, without shooting anyone. I’ve also discovered what a wonderful world we share and how good the majority of people are, the variety of interests and activities we indulge in. Peaceful activities. Most of the World’s businesses are also involved in peaceful pursuits. The arms manufacturers may be rich and powerful but compared with all the world’s other manufacturers and all the world’s peace loving people they’re a small minority, we could and should compel them to turn swords into ploughshares.
Tomorrows’ politicians haven’t been born yet. How they are raised is crucial to the world’s future. I know that world peace is not going to happen in my generation, or my daughter’s, but might it be possible in her children’s, children’s generation. Maybe we can start the snowball rolling down the hill, getting bigger and faster until it’s unstoppable. To create a world where children are taught in school about their ancestors, who started by throwing spears at one another, then stuck swords in each other and fired bows and arrows, they developed gunpowder, musket balls, cannon balls, artillery, rockets, fighter planes, nuclear bombs and inter continental delivery systems, they even took war into space and came so close to destroying the world that supports us all. How those children will laugh at their forebears’ stupidity.
To make this vision a reality I want to employ the marketing techniques that have made the Coca Cola and McDonalds logos and others like them, recognisable around the globe. I want to harness the power of marketing and ally it to people’s love of peaceful pursuits, to make the open proclamation of pacifism the norm rather than the exception in every country, to create the culture shift that will educate and inform future generations, prevent leaders from undertaking ego or greed driven acts of violence and make weapons a thing for the history books.
Let us accept the borders we were born with, but open the world up to freedom to travel, equal opportunities and free speech. Let people pursue their own religions or none as they see fit. There is no reason to kill.
The World Peace Foundation will have its own logo which will be seen on t-shirts, ties, lapel badges and all manner of clothing, casual and formal, it can be worn discreetly on the office suit, or tie, or proclaimed loudly on the most extrovert outfit. Yet The World Peace Foundation is an umbrella organisation. Its website will link to a thousand others, starting with Dancers For Peace and including, Motorcyclists For Peace, Skiers For Peace, Divers For Peace, Parachutists For Peace, Chess Players For Peace, Ten Pin Bowlers For Peace, Anglers For Peace, Athletes For Peace, Musicians For Peace, Book Clubs For Peace, Drama Clubs For Peace and so it goes on and on.
And if future demonstrations are called for, can you imagine the impact of a thousand banners, from a thousand ‘For Peace’ organisations representing a thousand peaceful pursuits, everyone’s against it will be the unmistakable message, everyone!
The World Peace Foundation will aim to launch many such organisations itself, starting with the highly visual Dancers For Peace and Dance For Peace Day, but will happily embrace those organisations started by other people who understand the concept and also want to embrace it. To make it a reality. Before long, dance outfits, ski suits, motorcycle leathers, waterproofs for a whole variety of sports, even the sails of yachts and dinghies and a million different T-shirts will proclaim the love of peace, in every corner of the globe, to change the face of the globe forever.
WHAT IS NEEDED
One can’t have the effect of a Coca Cola or a McDonalds, without the kind of budgets employed by those kinds of corporations. Indeed the World Peace Foundation must become a multi national corporation itself. Just to start the snowball rolling we need staff, offices, design, advertising, computers, warehousing, clothing and other stock, distribution, legal, accounting and human resources. We need qualified, multi lingual representatives to go and recruit volunteers in every country of the world, we need information technology specialists and much more.
Currently I am travelling the world on a small boat and writing a book or two. I thought about producing a few Dancers For Peace T shirts and selling them as I go to try and start something happening, but that would be just to play at it and would change nothing. If I can obtain the big money backing needed to create the kind of organisation spoken of above, I will give up my travels and devote the rest of my active years to this cause. I will happily sit down and discuss, costs, staffing levels and all other aspects with any serious backer.