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Flash Extra, 9-11: An Answer to Hate

By Paul Ben-Itzak
The Dance Insider

PARIS -- On the BBC tonight, crackly and heard through a constant eerie whistling in my short-wave reception, we are hearing instant description of today's attacks on New York City and Washington, instant reaction and, from talking heads, suggested response. New Yorkers themselves are too shell-shocked to think of anything except to make sure their loved ones are okay, and assure their loved ones outside of New York that they are okay. But the analysts are prescribing, to various degrees, hitting back.

Me, I can't get past the image of those plane passengers, helplessly sacrificed to the altar of someone else's hate. Not even the targets of that hate -- as Timothy McVeigh might put it, just "collateral damage." At first I recalled the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, but really, that pales -- while we felt helpless to defend ourselves against that act of nature because of the randomness and unpredictability of earthquakes, this tragedy adds another layer: How can one comprehend, in one's heart, and how can one live in a world with -- hate. For while a kernel of a cause may be sited by the perpetrators to "justify" this carnage in their minds, that cause is just a match, really, to fuel the cinders of what really is purely hate. Hate that lurks in some souls waiting for a cause to excuse an act of violence, even one towards innocents. Ghandi knew this; you don't answer violence with violence. Here in Europe and particularly France, where the memory of how hate was channeled to kill the Jews is still vivid, the power of hate is strongly felt.

But how...how do you live in a world with that hate? How do you not turn dark in your own soul in response?

You respond to hate with light, as my friend Dean might say. Will that light extinguish hate in every heart where it lurks? I don't know. Will it, tho, present an alternative? A different way? I think so. And will it empower you? I think so.

We are blessed to be part of a community that creates light: Dance. Several years ago I gave up political journalism for dance journalism precisely for this reason. As a political journalist, really all I could do is report on the dimensions of hate, and, perhaps, prescribe a solution and response which, while logical, would not really reach the hearts where hate had lodged most securely.
But entering the world of dance, at a time in my life when I was exposed to some negativity, I discovered its power to uplift almost literally into the light.

What I'm saying is that while it is easy and understandable to feel helpless in the face of this attack, you in fact, dance insider -- by your work whether you are a dancer or someone whose work supports the dance -- you are exercising the most valuable of responses, one which will probably be shouted out in the coming years: to answer hate with light. You can't "fight" hate. But I think by your art, by our art we offer an alternative. A different way. Don't underestimate the strength of that vision -- nor your power to offer it.

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