Doing the Dance Again
How to Address Both New Dances

I have written dozens of articles about dancing with death and the transformative nature of both dances. While I would not enjoy redoing either the cancer or the traumatic brain injury dance, I would not delete either from my life. I have benefitted from both dances. Dancing with death has enabled me to live more fully. However, over the past several weeks, I find myself possibly running the risk of dancing again. One dance is a medical one that is unique to me and the other dance is one that we all share due to terrorism, especially that of ISIS.

Having done the dances before, I want to address what I have learned as it applies to another possible dance; this one is another medical problem. In the past several months, I have gone through dozens of tests due to night sweats that just happened to occur. The night sweats are not the issue per se. They started a couple months ago and occurred a couple times a week. Being proactive, I went to my computer and googled night sweats. This is a short list of possible causes of night sweats. Possible causes could be lymphoma, autoimmune diseases, HIV, sleep apnea, tuberculosis, heart problems, endocrine disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease, panic disorders, and the list goes on.

Talk about not wanting to hear possible bad news. One thing that I learned about dancing with death is to act, and I did. I called my doctor. He ran some tests and found nothing. However, they became more frequent. I went back, and he gave me another set of tests, which included a MRI, many blood tests, etc. Again, all the tests came back basically negative. Two particular items on the blood tests came back slightly elevated. However, one has been slightly elevated as long as I can remember. The other one has fluctuated from normal to slightly evaluated over the past few years. The bottom line is that there was no indication from any tests about which my doctor or I were concerned.

In my previous dances with death, my test results did not come back the way that these recent tests did. The question is what did I do and how did I react? I faced the music and continued to dance. When I had medical issues in the past, carpe diem was the operative phrase. I addressed the issue and kept leading death as we danced.

To be honest, if one is healthy, exercises every day, and is feeling fine without any apparent medical issue present, that should cause concern. It does in me. I might have some extremely rare medical problem or that the problem that I have might have masked itself on one or more tests.

Therefore, while I was delighted that the test came back without any indication of any problem, what was my reaction? From my perspective, I have but two choices: one to sit and wait until another problem emerged since I'm basically healthy with night sweats. Or I could still continue to dance, which I have done. I asked around about other possible tests and will continue to look until someone can resolve my concern. The key is to continue to dance.

Now, that is applicable to you also. Get regular physical checkups. If you develop some medical issue, act. Trust me. Dancing with death transforms you if you continue to dance. If you allow death to lead, you will be in trouble.

This brings me to a dance that we all share. We have been on the dance floor since 9/11 with Muslim extremism. Today, it is called ISIS. Unfortunately, we will be dancing with death for years to come. Interestingly, I'm teaching two world religion classes. The attack in Paris occurred on Friday. A couple of days later, we were scheduled to research Islam. I seized upon this as a golden educational opportunity. Instead of merely going over the history of Islam, this would be a great teaching moment.

Source of picture

The class had the opportunity to learn several critically important lessons. To say that I was excited would be an understatement. I would have the attention of the class, and we could learn a great deal about terrorism, Islam, Christianity, and many other religions. I posted the change in the instructions for the week. As Professor Keating said in Dead Poet's Society to his class, "Carpe diem," and I did.

Well, I might have seen a golden opportunity, but it fell on the deaf ears of the vast majority of the two classes. Granted, several students saw some of the educational light at the end of the tunnel, but, as much as I seized the day, the majority of both classes seized on the notion that ISIS is not truly Muslim. Probably half of both classes believed that they merely used the name Muslim or Islam for public relations.

I realized that, if this was going to be a learning experience, I needed to act. Therefore, I illustrated some activities that Christians have employed over the years that were not public relations moves. I mentioned that the half dozen or so Crusades, which killed an estimated five-million Muslims and Jews many of whom were women and children.

Then Christians fought among themselves due to the Protestant Reformation. The Witch Trials and the Scopes Monkey Trial were not designed for public relation purposes either. While all of these examples were not divinely inspired as we look back upon them. Nonetheless, during that time, it was considered by many that God blessed those activities.

Then I compared what some Christians have done with what some Muslims have done. I thought that was another great learning experience for the classes. Surely, they certainly could intellectually follow the comparisons. However, they merely returned to the terrorists were merely using the terms, Muslim or Islam, to help their efforts at creating a caliphate.

If once you fail, try again...which I did. I raised the question what caused the terrorists to be willing to die. There had to have been a reason. Surely, they were not all psychopaths. That approach did not fare much better than my other attempts. A good of number students wrote them all off as merely crazy killers.

Some Parisian, in the aftermath of the killings, left this rose in a window where a terrorist had fired a shot. Attached to the rose was this question, "In the name of what?" I would address that question at two levels. The first level, which is obvious, would be whether these killings were in the name of Allah and with his blessing?

The question on the card reads, "In the name of what?"

However, at another level, I would raise the question, what was the reason for this senseless killing spree aside from the creation of the ISIS Caliphate. Some, in the West, will say that the reason was that the terrorists were merely crazy psychopaths. Surely some were. However, most of the Muslim extremists were responding to either real or at least felt discrimination by the West.

I tried again with my classes and mentioned that there are several real examples of discrimination of the West. The Christian church went on at least six Crusades against Muslims living in the Holy Lands about a millennium go. While accurate statistics are difficult to gather, it is estimated that about five-million Muslims and Jews were killed over a timespan of a couple centuries.

In more recent times, the West has redrawn the map of the Middle East directly or indirectly. After WWI, Britain and France divided up the Middle East.  The UK created Iraq. 

The Balfour Declaration was sent to Walter Rothschild, a leader of the Zionists, by the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, which approved the creation of Israel in November 1917. However, by the late 40s, Jews got tired of waiting and essentially invaded Palestine. For nearly seven decades there have been numerous wars between Arabs, Palestinians, and Jews. All of this was due to the British approval of the creation of Israel.

Another incursion into the Middle East was the US and UK support of the Shah of Iran coming to power in 1941, which continued until 1979 when Ayatollah Khomeini lead the Iranian Revolution.  

In the past decade and a half, Iraq and the US have battled various groups in Iraq. The problems are not entirely an American problem. Muslims have muddied the water for us and the Muslims, themselves, by their fighting between Sunnis and Shias. We have merely exacerbated that internal problem among Muslims.

There is a reason for the killings by the terrorists. They are just crazies. Especially in France and Belgium, Muslims have faced all sorts of discrimination. Address the issue. Resolve the cause. Debating about their crazy behavior is a dead-end street.

Dancing with death is not something that either of us would wish to do. Having said that, it is a golden opportunity if we seize those various dances, whether medical and/or societal, and lead our partner, death. In a strange way, dancing with death can force us to improve our health and the political health of the world.

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