I lived in Los Angeles when I saw Eve Ensler’s play, the Vagina Monologues. It was back in 1996 after she won her Obie Award. Since then, around the globe, The Vagina Monologues have been performed on Valentine’s Day to raise awareness about violence against women. This year was V-Day’s 15th anniversary.
The past fifteen years, I have been busy raising kids. But my daughter is now thirteen and beginning to take independent steps out into the world. A month ago, my spiritual teacher sent me the link to Break the Chain with the comment “I feel this is important for your daughter.” I listened to it and began getting up to speed about One Billion Rising, an outgrowth from Eve Ensler’s work. I learned that
one out three women are raped or experience violence in their lifetime.
Violence in this instance did not include sexual harassment or inequality in the workplace. It meant one billion women on this planet are affected by physical violence. If all forms of harassment are included, ninety percent of women have been affected. The idea of One Billion Rising was to help liberate women from physical violence.
Dance is fantastic way to address this global crisis. Throughout human history humans have danced to celebrate, to initiate, to heal, to prepare for war and to celebrate our victories. Dancing as a form of healing seemed a natural way to heal rape and violence.
I called my friend, Jane, the director at World Beat Fitness and said, “You ladies dance. Would you like to dance with one billion people on Valentine’s Day?”
She said, “I’m already on it. You must come over and meet the woman who inspired me, Dr. Valli.”
Dr. Valli Batchelor is a multi-cultural, internationally known, choreographer who has gone all over the world helping women and girls heal through dance. Her projects are known as Journeys Towards Hope.
A yoga practitioner, Dr. Valli’s inspiration came from the dancing Shiva. When Shiva dances, he is called Nadaraja. He lifts his arms to the heavens and dances while keeping his foot grounded to the earth. In Nadaraja, Dr. Valli saw that the link between heaven and earth was dance.
I said, “What a wonderful image.”
After I went home, I excitedly told my husband about Dr. Valli, Nadaraja dancing, and One Billion Rising, then added, “Jane asked me whether I had heard about a girl in Saudi Arabia. Do you know what she was talking about?”
He paused, “Yes, I have known about her for awhile, but I didn’t want to tell you because I knew it would upset you.”
He explained how a five-year old girl died in a hospital in Saudi Arabia after being brutally beaten and raped multiple times by her father. As he spoke, my mind went blank. I could not understand the violence of what he was saying. I felt like a knife went through my ribcage and into my heart.
My husband said, “The whole situation caused a real uproar in Saudi. People are asking what kind of society do we live in? And, in this case, the father was a cleric who spoke about Islam on television.”
That was when my mind went absolutely hay-wire. It could not grasp how this could happen.
If a man of God could do this to his own daughter, what hope do women have?
The pain in my heart became so intense, I thought about taking a pill to numb it. Instead, I excused myself and started breathing and meditating. I prayed for the girl, Lama Al-Ghamdi, and for men like her father.
When I finished my meditations, the intensity of the pain lessened. The knife came a little ways out of my heart. But I still felt the blade stuck there.
That was when I realized – this type of violence is a crisis of the heart. It is happening because our rational minds have become disconnected from our bodies where love and compassion lives.
The next morning when I woke up my chest still hurt. Once again, I went back into prayer and meditation. As I placed my palms together, I admitted, “My mind has no solution for this problem. I completely surrender this to God.”
As I meditated, the knife came out of my heart. The pain was gone. And when I finished I was given a vision of Bill Gates.
A few nights before, I watched an interview with Bill Gates. He talked about the work he and Melinda Gates had been doing on eradicating polio through their foundation. Historically, polio paralyzed over 400,000 children per year. Bill Gates talked about their success. In 2012, there were 226 cases of polio on the entire plant. They expect within six years, polio will be the second disease wiped off the face of the earth.
I read Bill Gates’ Annual Letter. In the letter, he said they have learned that innovation is great but even within human services, you must have a goal, a vision of where you want to go. And that vision has to be measurable.
My right brain kicked in. Bill and Melinda Gates have billions of dollars, but we have a billion people dancing. We needed to use our dance to turn this manmade number upside down. Because, if you turn one billion upside down, it becomes one out of a billion.
If the statistic for violence changed from 1 out of 3 women to 1 out of a 1,000,000,000 affected by rape and violence then it would be like eradicating violence from the planet.
On Valentine’s Day, I explained my thoughts to the ladies who gathered. Together we danced our joy for a future when only one out of billion women will be affected by rape and violence. Holding our vision in our hands, we raised our arms to the sky and surrendered it.
We did not need to know how “Thy will” will be done. We only needed to believe that by dancing, we could create peace on Earth as it is in Heaven.