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I wrote the following in private blog I maintain and realized it's as good a place as any to start an Aikido blog. Entries here are likely to be infrequent and mostly of the me-on-my-soapbox nature. I hope someone gets something worthwhile out of them besides me. Mostly, though, I just feel the need to say it.
So, this is the first pontification:
A big part of my reason for training in Aikido - as opposed to other arts - is the non-violence that is inherent in its foundations.
First of all, I am not naturally a violent person. But I learned to be violent in a way which is pretty appalling on sober reflection. As a result it's very easy for me to become violent very quickly. But, because my nature doesn't support it, it's very hard for me to live with later.
So, Aikido has given me tools to work against the violence I've learned.
But, that's just me.
I frequently run into people who not only don't understand the value of non-violence, the actively oppose it. They truly believe that the way to a better world is by perpetuating a level of violent confrontation that is difficult for me to even understand. They teach this to their children. They get very angry when I point out the problems with this approach.
Teaching our children to fight
I have a co-worker who was talking about teaching his daughter to hit hard in defending herself. I pointed out that I have students and former students who have defended themselves and not gotten into trouble with school because they didn't become violent. I pointed out that she was vulnerable to being kicked out of school for using her ability to hit. He replied that he would have no problem changing her school in that case. So I asked what I thought was the obvious question: isn't it better just to avoid the hassle. She shouldn't have to change schools because someone attacked her. If she can defend herself in a way which avoids being a part of the fight, she gets to be safe and still stay in school. He didn't buy it.
The source of the bully
Then he tells me the story of his daughter knocking people down and beating on them for fun. Isn't that just being a bully? My reply was that this was an excellent reason all by itself for kids to learn to defend themselves without violence.
Of course I will not convince him. That really isn't my purpose. But there were other people listening to the story. I hope they will think about my points and take them to heart. Maybe they won't. But I find myself increasingly unable to tolerate people advocating violence. Maybe I'm being intolerant by doing so, but is it reasonable to let it slide? Is it okay to just allow advocates of violence to go unchallenged?
I can't believe it is. I believe we have a responsibility to express ourselves if we truly believe that non-violence is a Good Idea.