Dance Dance Revolution

No, I’m not going to blog about the still popular 1990s arcade game. Those of you who are aware of it already know its awesome power to make semi-coordinated people look like the Jabbawockeez and people not as coordinated look like they are having restless leg syndrome while standing and awake in the middle of a Dave and Busters. That’s not what I am thinking about. What I am thinking about are the dances we do every day with those around us.

Often when I deal with couples there is a dance. Just like an actual dance, there are prescribed positions, stances, and steps. When things are going poorly, we become more entrenched in those three things, to the point where a third party observer (read therapist) can pick up on those patterns from an hour meeting with two people. Much like the members of a wedding party which have worked tirelessly to set up a perfect choreography of the Thriller dance, one person does one thing, the music does another, we react to each other’s reactions.

Recently I noticed that this is done in our friendships as well. I have a friend where I live, we’ll call him Joseph. Joseph is a supporter of a certain organization whose tactics and values I do not believe are appropriate or in the best interests of the community. We happened to be talking about something unrelated when the topic of this organization came up. I began to espouse my views about this organization, and he began to roll his eyes. This has happened many times. The first thing I realized was that I had become that guy. But, like most self critical thoughts, I pushed that one away. The second thing I realized is that my friend and I have a dance.

I recently saw a video which showed an incredible thing. A man, who on his own, decided to stop the dance. Scott Pappalardo (a 50-year-old gun enthusiast, who has the second amendment tattooed on his arm, and has been a supporter of gun rights for 30 years) began to wonder,  after the Valentine’s Day shooting, why high-powered weapons are legal. He decided that he was going to destroy his legally bought AR-15. He describes, in this video, how his thoughts about the second amendment  began to change.

When this terrible shooting happened in Florida, we all could predict what the dance would be. Shouts of gun control from one side. Mental health untreated from the other. Teachers should be armed, no guns should ever be in school. Its the FBI’s fault, etc… Everyone takes their position and the dance starts. In fact one person carried notes about the role he was supposed to play.

What if we took a pause. We stopped before we react, before we take our positions. I don’t know what should happen. Should we ban guns? Should we arm teachers? What would prevent more kids from getting killed? I don’t have the answer. But I don’t see why anything should be off the table. If there are legal and moral challenges on either side we need to deal with those, but, for goodness’ sake, kids are being killed. We can’t dance when the world is crumbling around us.

About the Author
Binyomin Yudin is a psychotherapist in private practice in Cincinnati, Ohio Born in Harrisburg, PA, and raised in Baltimore MD, he attended several yeshivos after high school eventually landing at Ner Israel in Baltimore until his marriage in 2002. He spent several years learning at kollelim in Israel, and after a stint in the rabbinate in St Louis, settled in Cincinnati, OH, with his family.
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