Not only so, we also need to be agreeable with each other in order to function as a team. If we are disagreeable with each other, we are unable to work in unison for the same cause. For this reason, agreeableness was once regarded as a virtue. People may have personal interests and opinions, but as members of a team they must think from the vantage point of the group, be sympathetic, overcome their own ego, seek common ground, and be willing to compromise, regarding them as a part of the whole that is bigger and more important than themselves.
But, when individualism becomes the dominant philosophy in a society where everyone thinks of himself or herself as the most important, that is no longer the case. In today's America, for example, individual rights and personal interests take precedence over the interests of the society as a whole. As a result, people bicker and disagree with each other on everything. The gridlock in our politics is but a reflection of the selfishness, small-mindedness, rabidity and obstinacy that characterize a nation lacking broad visions, magnanimity, brotherhood and common cause. (See 惜缘.)
The disregard for human rights is a regrettable fact in human history. Liberalism, which places human liberty at the center of its cause, has played a positive role in human liberation. However, the view of men and woman as free and independent individuals is an unbalanced one. Human beings are not only free and independent individuals, but also interconnected and interdependent social beings. Our life, liberty and happiness depend on collective efforts and a stable and harmonious society. Therefore, human rights must not be conceived only as the rights of the individual, but that of the mankind or society as a whole also, among these rights are coexistence, equality, sharing, cooperation, and fraternity. (See The Freedom in Tango.)
In the US, however, the collective rights and freedom of the mankind or society are often being ignored while individual rights and personal freedom are overemphasized and often pushed to the extreme by the right and the left alike. Business aggression and expansionism, the exploitation of other human beings, the destruction of the environment, squandering, monopolization, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, the influence of big money on politics, the promotion of obscenity and violence in the name of free speech, gun culture, sex freedom, same-sex marriage, etc., are typical examples. Too many people think only about themselves and disregard the overall interests of the society and humanity as a whole. (See Tango and the Relationship of the Opposite Sexes.)
Our tango reflects the same kind of thinking. Many dancers do not see themselves as a part of the team or community, but as independent individuals. Freedom is being interpreted as against any compliance. Equality is being interpreted as against any submission. (See Tango and Gender Equality.) Gender roles are repudiated. Men do not lead, but only give suggestions. (See How Tango Is Led.) Women remain independent, may disobey men, interrupt the lead, or reverse roles. The embrace is being replaced with an open hold to avoid physical contact and emotional involvement. Personal performance supersedes intimate cooperation. The relationship of the partners becomes a cold working relationship, and so is the atmosphere of the milonga. Everybody demonstrates a strong ego. Those who try to dance with others are often being humiliated by the rude response of the invitees. (See How to Get More Invitations in the Milonga.) There is a lack of friendliness, brotherhood, intimacy and cooperation in our milongas.
But, we still are human beings. Our individualistic illusion does not blot out our loneliness, longing, interdependence and need. That is why we come to tango in the first place - to be in close contact with others, to form an intimate relationship, to satisfy our need for connection, affection and affinity. Unfortunately, these needs are often stymied by our independence, arrogance and disagreeableness.
Tango puts us in such an intimate relationship with one another that we are forced to rethink what it means to be men and women, to change our self-centered behaviors, to be better connected and cooperative partners, and to dance in unison and harmony through abiding by the roles and being agreeable with each other. The lessons we learn from tango are valuable and applicable to other areas of life as well. We need leaders who understand the truth revealed in tango, to unite people, set aside the difference, find common ground, restore brotherhood, focus on the common cause instead of the differences, and work as a team. Our milonga will be a batter place in which to dance, and our society will be a better place in which to live, I believe, if we embrace the spirit of tango and reject individualism.