All of us face constant pressure to conform: to look a certain way, to act a certain way, to believe what we are being told. Incredible amounts of time and money go into media to convince us that conformity will make us happy. If we simply wear the “hottest” looks and have the whitest teeth, and stay on top of whatever is trending, we will be satisfied.
Conformity is not satisfying. Creativity is.
Conformity teaches us to be consumers of other people’s ideas and style and values. It’s good for the people selling stuff, but not so good for our souls. And ultimately, it is a form of social control, keeping us insecure and distracted from the big questions and big issues in our world.
That’s why Resistance is one of the core commitments of Cabaret Church.
When we put art and compassion into action, that is resistance. First, as artists we see ourselves as creators rather than consumers. Then, through compassion, we affirm the value of our lives and the lives of others. Before you know it, we’re fighting for a world where creativity and compassion are not simply personal qualities, but political ones. We won’t be satisfied with the empty life of consumer culture and we aren’t okay with policies, laws, or cultures of meanness.
This commitment to Resistance is deeply connected to the history of the Cabaret. Many people know that Cabaret was a place where artists, freaks, outcasts and weirdos thrived and created a way of life. But Cabaret was (and still is!) more than just that. During the years of fascism in the 1940s, the Cabaret, through parody and song, was the voice of resistance. In occupied cities, in ghettos, and even in the death camps, there was Cabaret. In his article, “They played for their life: Cabaret in the face of death,” Volker Kühn writes:
Cabaret, as an opportunity for survival, as a means of encouragement and act of resistance, performed by masters in the subject, was on the programme at Auschwitz, Sobibor and Treblinka until the bitter end.
These stories were the subject of the play “Ghetto” by Joshua Sobol and these lines sum up why “resistance” is the third core commitment of Cabaret Church:
“Listen to me! The Germans do not want to destroy only our bodies, no! They want our soul! Do you understand? They try to enter into our soul. They are determined to let their bullets enter our bodies and their spirit our souls. Do you understand? Our fight against them must be a spiritual fight. We won’t defeat them with our fists, but with our mind!”