Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dancing Dictators

Leye - Every other Wednesday 
Why do people dance? What is this thing, this human ritual? You throw your limbs about, twist your waist, count steps, follow the beats, and all for what? To what avail? What does it do for you? Exercise? A prelude to some amorous act? Advertisement? What? I just don’t get it.

Surely it’s a carry over from earlier times when we humans were a lot closer to our ape cousins. A residue of some instinctive social ritual that originated in caves amongst early humanoids that could never have imagined that, one day their bones would be studied, thousands of years since they last danced.

            Very much like the universal handshake. Why do humans shake hands? Another vestige of our ancestral chain, no doubt. But dancing, that one really gets me. Why do we do it? What do we gain from it?

            We also kiss. We wave goodbye. We close our eyes to pray. We build idols. We kneel before them. We bow. We courtesy. We are.

The human child learns the words mama and dada without being taught. It’s there in what we are. It’s what we’ve always done. Its what we’ll always do.

            Now, dancing, pointless as it seems, I can accept. It harms no one. But other things, surely we should have advanced from what instinct handed to us. It is instinct that compels us, I am convinced, to choose one person to rule over millions of us. To have a queen, a king, a pope, a bishop, a prime minister, a president, a dictator. A donald.

            In the cradle of mankind: in the sweltering jungle or the sweeping savannah, who knows, one person must have emerged as the most courageous, the most ruthless, the strongest, the boldest, the most hungry to grab power, the most likely to scare off those eyeing the clan with murderous desires. Brute strength, cunning, superior hunting skills, these make the one leader.

            Then came kings and queens. Single rulers who saw to it that their blood, their house, continued through power held in wealth won and held by violence. The people need a single ruler; the strongest ruler makes it easy for them. “Here, have my son to own you all after I’m gone.”

            Surely, we are a long way from those days. Surely, we have sufficiently evolved to stop clubbing each other over the head.  

            But I dream. We humans, we are still cave men, only that our clubs with which we smash at one another now have nuclear warheads.

            Why do we still choose a single person to rule over millions of us? What can one person have that is absent in all others? Take Nigeria, a country of about two hundred million proud Africans. Every four years, unless interrupted by the military, we go out and vote. We know our votes don’t always count, but we troupe out and we cast them all the same. For show. Then, a leader is chosen. The One. And he, (we have never cracked the ‘She ceiling’), acquires legitimacy to misrule, mismanage, loot and plunder, disregard the law, silence the press, slander and eliminate competition, and attempt to install their house to rule after them.

            Why do millions of people still think they need one person to rule over them? One person? One human chosen from amongst them. Why?

            Why do we dance? Why do we need a king? I cannot accept the authority of any one human being over me, nor do I desire any authority over anyone. But I’m a great dancer.


  1. I sympathize with your attitude about leaders, Leye. Sometimes, it seems to me that the anarchy would be better than lawless government--of which there is much too much these days.

    But you are wrong about dancing. Totally wrong. Here is just one thing you ought to read.
    All humans cultures include dance and always have. I dance all the time. It always cheers me up, even when i am all by myself in my own kitchen.

    American football, on the other hand. I do NOT understand why people want to do that, much less to watch it. UGH.

  2. I'm right there with you Leye. But I fear that the very same "social wiring" in our brains that made homo stupidus so successful also results in the need/desire for organizers of that society. Alas. Give me dancing, give me singing, give me writing, but keep your leaders. Please.

    Expressing the desire to be a leader should be an immediate disqualifier for ever being a leader.

  3. Actually, running these countries is often a hiding to nothing and I've no idea why people would want to do it. Generally speaking, smart people do something else. (There was a recent exception in the US, but now has reverted to type.)

  4. You are right about leaders. Why do we do it this way? I'm not much of a dancer, but I like to watch it. That's why I play in the band.

  5. With my sensible head on, I might argue that it is a also a throwback to our tribal past. There are leaders, and there are those who like, and need, to be led - because they don't want the responsibility of doing the job. A good leader keeps the tribe safe, makes sure the vulnerable are protected. In the animal kingdom they organise lookouts and foot soldiers ( admittedly the leader stays at the back out of trouble!). In any family group of animals there is what we see as hierarchy but its more about job description than power. I think the desire for power is a less attractive 'human' trait. Like bad dancing. A row of highland dancers in kilts in windy weather can really put you off your dinner.

  6. I think we should require all who wish to be our leaders to dance vigorously for fifteen minutes in classically outfitted kilts on national tv...debate for fifteen minutes...then dance some more. Perhaps that way we'll gain some true insight into their bona fides.