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We Begin to Move


We Begin to Move

Richard Renshaw

by Richard Renshaw

When Aboriginal people gather there is always dance. Dance is central to the engagement with life.

Dance involves three dimensions.

There is first of all the music that flows through our bodies and touches our hearts. Music energizes. It is central to all social struggles. 

Along with music there are words. Words engage our minds. They call us to think, to wrap our heads around the complex dynamics at work in society; the words help us name things as they are and to discover what needs to be done.

In Aboriginal culture, there are two ways of knowing: that of the mind and that of the heart. We can know with our mind, we can analyze. We can know with our heart, and let our heart lead us. But in Aboriginal thinking, knowing—whether of the mind or of the heart—does not become truth until the two are integrated. From that integration flows a powerful purity and simplicity.

The song has words, but we have to dance—to move our feet, to locate ourselves in the face of the struggle and to engage our bodies. Otherwise, we have only pious intentions. Ultimately, it is the integration of mind, heart and feet that makes the dance. It is also the integration of mind, heart and feet that makes us social actors, capable of changing society.

We begin by standing up, placing our feet beneath us, standing on the ground where the struggle is happening. We stand together, and we listen to the music until it touches our hearts. If we do not love, we cannot act. If we are not moved, we will never dance. Then, as the music begins, we hear the words, we sing the words, we make those words our own. We begin to feel the power and truth of those words. We allow the music and its words to sink into our bodies until they reach our feet and we begin to move.