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robin_jet_alt
09-08-2011, 08:50 PM
This morning I was waiting for the bus in Shibuya station and there was a guy sprawled on the pavement with his face down and his arm at an awkward angle. He was dirty, but not incredibly so. He might have been homeless, but if he was, it didn't look like he had been for very long.

There would have been thousands of people going past that stretch of pavement this morning and not one of them stopped to see if he was alright. I was a few meters away waiting for the bus, and I couldn't tell if he was asleep, unconscious or dead. From his position, I would say that he wasn't just asleep, but I can't say for sure. He may have had too much to drink and passed out.

So, what did I do? I got on the bus. I wanted to get to work on time. I made the wrong decision.

What is Aikido for if not for situations like these? To me, budo is about more than facing an attacker. It is about standing up and taking responsibility in difficult situations. This was a difficult situation, and I could have checked to see that he was okay, called an ambulance if necessary, or if not, then at least given him a bottle of water. I could have taken responsibility, but I didn't, and I regret it.

There is a word in Japanese called hanmen-kyoushi (反面教師). It is a person who does the wrong thing, and you learn from their example and do the opposite. Please use me as such.

Janet Rosen
09-08-2011, 09:32 PM
And next time you may make a different decision too...

robin_jet_alt
09-08-2011, 09:37 PM
And next time you may make a different decision too...

I hope so

thisisnotreal
09-08-2011, 10:34 PM
Do not be too hard on yourself.
It is hard to know how much of the world to let in.
If you have eyes to see, there is never ending need and sorrow before us.
We can spend our entire lives in the service of others. Are we to?
Maybe yes. Maybe yes, when you can.
Fear is real, as well. I don't think we can really be brave without acknowledging the fear.
And to really conquer fear, you have to know why, and for what you overcome.
And as to your loss on that day?
..i think You have know how to lose, to know how to win.

chin up brother.
your struggle now is more real than the thousands that passed by that man on that day.

do what you can when you can, and do your best.
wish me luck too.

David Orange
09-08-2011, 10:41 PM
There is a word in Japanese called hanmen-kyoushi (反面教師). It is a person who does the wrong thing, and you learn from their example and do the opposite. Please use me as such.

It seems that the overall gestalt of the moment told you to let it go. It would take care of itself. And you understood that at the moment. Don't get hung up on it now. Stay with now so you can deal with the next thing that comes up.

Gambare!

David

MM
09-08-2011, 10:59 PM
And perhaps your life would have been devastated in some way by helping that person. Life's funny and tosses curve balls all the time.

Reminds me of a zen (I think) story.

===
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her.

The senior monk carried this woman on his shoulder, forded the river and let her down on the other bank. The junior monk was very upset, but said nothing.

They both were walking and senior monk noticed that his junior was suddenly silent and enquired "Is something the matter, you seem very upset?"

The junior monk replied, "As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?"

The senior monk replied, "I left the woman a long time ago at the bank, however, you seem to be carrying her still."
===

We all do things we shouldn't do, or don't do things we think we should. Learn from them but don't carry them around. :)

sakumeikan
09-09-2011, 01:17 AM
Hi Robin,
It was Xmas time, the snow was falling heavily and was bitter cold.I was driving along a road when I saw a figure approaching me. It was an elderly gent who was walking in manner that suggested he had a few drinks too much.
I drove passed him, felt a bit guilty and turned back and asked him if he wanted a lift home.He got into the car assisted by me.I then took him to his home.I knocked on the door and his wife answered .I told her I had brought her husband back and he was a bit under the weather.I helped him into his house , said good night and proceeded on my journey .I thought no more about the incident.
A week later I received a letter from the mans wife.She told me her husband had died.He was a haemophiliac and he knew the condition would kill him someday.She called me the Good Samaritan.I do not know how she acquired my postal address.
The above incident took place over twenty years ago.Every time I pass by the mans house I am reminded of the event.
Robin, I never assume that anyone in a bad way is drunk.It could be anything , a stroke, heart attack etc.The saying goes , there but for the grace of God go I.Do not feel bad about your decision , I am sure you will know how to act should a similar situation occur in the future. Cheers, Joe.

robin_jet_alt
09-09-2011, 01:29 AM
Robin, I never assume that anyone in a bad way is drunk.It could be anything , a stroke, heart attack etc..

Hi Joe,

You are absolutely right. I have no idea what was going on this morning. It could have been anything from a homeless person having a nap, to someone who suffered a stroke and died. I wish I had stopped to find out.

Tim Ruijs
09-09-2011, 01:57 AM
Perhaps a deep down fear of not knowing what to do when you got to him? The uncertainty of what is actually going on?

robin_jet_alt
09-09-2011, 02:41 AM
I think it was more tiredness than fear. I haven't had enough sleep all week and I just wanted to get to work and sit down. That sounds terrible when I say it... fear sounds much better.

I'm sure the uncertainty had something to do with it though. Maybe he was fine. I would have looked pretty dumb waking him up if he was just asleep, and I would have been late to work.

None of that is any sort of excuse though...

Eva Antonia
09-09-2011, 02:46 AM
One autumn day, maybe two or three years ago I went home from work along the Brussels channel. I always go by bike, and it was dark and rainy, and I rode through a park that was completely abandoned at that hour. Then I saw a guy lying motionless on the small grass strip separating the bike path from the water.

I thought he maybe had fallen ill or had been attacked or whatever and that he might need help. So I got off my bike and approached the guy, and when I started to ask if I could do anything for him, he stretched out both arms and asked me to lie down with him in the cold, wet grass. The guy was just totally drunk and totally enjoying himself lying around at the board of the channel. It was one of the most absurd scenes I ever lived through.

But then I reacted because I was alone and there was no one except me who could have helped the guy, had he then needed help. If there were thirty other people I'd probably have gone on, just thinking that someone other might have more time, better capacity to help or whatever...human nature is strange.

Have a nice day!

Eva

robin_jet_alt
09-09-2011, 02:58 AM
One autumn day, maybe two or three years ago I went home from work along the Brussels channel. I always go by bike, and it was dark and rainy, and I rode through a park that was completely abandoned at that hour. Then I saw a guy lying motionless on the small grass strip separating the bike path from the water.

I thought he maybe had fallen ill or had been attacked or whatever and that he might need help. So I got off my bike and approached the guy, and when I started to ask if I could do anything for him, he stretched out both arms and asked me to lie down with him in the cold, wet grass. The guy was just totally drunk and totally enjoying himself lying around at the board of the channel. It was one of the most absurd scenes I ever lived through.

But then I reacted because I was alone and there was no one except me who could have helped the guy, had he then needed help. If there were thirty other people I'd probably have gone on, just thinking that someone other might have more time, better capacity to help or whatever...human nature is strange.

Have a nice day!

Eva

It's a well known phenomenon called "bystander syndrome". It was well documented in the Kitty Genovese murder in New York. I guess this is a classic example because I would say well over 1000 people walked past him this morning and did nothing.

Aikirk
09-09-2011, 03:09 AM
Don't be to harsh on your self. I firmly believe that our help is not worth much if we don't have energy to spare, and it sounds like you needed to tend to yourself a bit before worrying about others.

Put yourself first and make sure you are well balanced and full of energy, and then I'm sure you have the ability to do something about it next time. Remember this: You cannot give others the help you need yourself.

Tim Ruijs
09-09-2011, 03:25 AM
Don't be to harsh on your self. I firmly believe that our help is not worth much if we don't have energy to spare, and it sounds like you needed to tend to yourself a bit before worrying about others.

Put yourself first and make sure you are well balanced and full of energy, and then I'm sure you have the ability to do something about it next time. Remember this: You cannot give others the help you need yourself.
That is about the first rule before helping some in trouble:
1. make sure you are safe
2. make sure victim is safe
3. order someone to get professional help (and have him/her report back)
4. attend to victim
or something along those lines anyway

Aikirk
09-09-2011, 03:35 AM
That is about the first rule before helping some in trouble:
1. make sure you are safe
2. make sure victim is safe
3. order someone to get professional help (and have him/her report back)
4. attend to victim
or something along those lines anyway

Yes, and I believe that in this situation his mind was not "safe". I hope he can take this experience and turn it into something useful. The experience could be a hint, that the way he lives and treats himself isn't what's healthy for his mind and body. Aikido is not very effective from en unbalanced state.

Hellis
09-09-2011, 03:50 AM
Just curious ?

Why is this a " Aikido failure " ? It is a human failure seen in many towns and cities in this day and age.

Henry Ellis
Aikido Articles
http://aikidoarticles.blogspot.com/

sakumeikan
09-09-2011, 05:06 AM
Just curious ?

Why is this a " Aikido failure " ? It is a human failure seen in many towns and cities in this day and age.

Henry Ellis
Aikido Articles
http://aikidoarticles.blogspot.com/

Hi Henry,
I guess we do not live in a era when helping someone is the norm.I never saw old drunk guys get left on the pavement for hours when I was living in the Gorbals[as a boy].Somebody always lifted them home, merrily , I may add.People nowadays are inclined to pass by on the other side of the road.You could get murdered in the street in broad daylight and no onlooker would interfere.Sad state of affairs.
Cheers, Joe.

robin_jet_alt
09-09-2011, 05:13 AM
Just curious ?

Why is this a " Aikido failure " ? It is a human failure seen in many towns and cities in this day and age.

Henry Ellis
Aikido Articles
http://aikidoarticles.blogspot.com/

You are correct. I guess what I mean is that as people who supposedly practice budo, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and take responsibility where necessary.

Hellis
09-09-2011, 05:16 AM
Hi Henry,
I guess we do not live in a era when helping someone is the norm.I never saw old drunk guys get left on the pavement for hours when I was living in the Gorbals[as a boy].Somebody always lifted them home, merrily , I may add.People nowadays are inclined to pass by on the other side of the road.You could get murdered in the street in broad daylight and no onlooker would interfere.Sad state of affairs.
Cheers, Joe.

Hi Joe

They were different times, today that drunk could be a junkie and a dangerous one at that, we didn't need to worry about aids either..
Being a good samaritan is not always rewarding - a friend of mine helped a drunk in trouble only to find he was later accused of stealing the grateful guys wallet..yeah - I guess we do live in different times.
If it is of any comfort - It will never get any better..:straightf

Regards

Henry
Aikido Articles
http://aikidoarticles.blogspot.com/

gates
09-09-2011, 05:19 AM
My partner was driving home late at night got lost and ended up in a rough part of town. Saw a lady staggering along, she turned the car around, it was late at night. By the time she made it to the lady she had collapsed. Turned out the lady had been mugged and stabbed. Lara stopped the bleeding gave CPR as she couldn't tell if she was still breathing. The Ambulance staff stated that she would
have certainly died without help.
It is damm easy to say," it will be fine somebody else will deal with it" it is much harder to set up out of your comfort zone and act. aikido or any MA can decrease fear and enable one to keep a level head, although choosing to act or not to act is a personal thing. Takes some moral backbone to set up sometimes.
At least you had an urge to help, sure next time you will !!!!!!

Henry is right of course. Keeping common sence and assessing the situation rationally is a tough call.

SeiserL
09-09-2011, 05:28 AM
We all need to keep training to have the courage to do the right things.

gregstec
09-09-2011, 10:17 AM
IMO, I believe that if you have awareness, you will feel things around you - one of the most powerful feelings is that of danger. Regardless of what something looks like, I would go with what felt right at the moment - I have never regretted this approach.

Greg

Demetrio Cereijo
09-09-2011, 10:36 AM
We all need to keep training to have the courage to do the right things.
Ditto.

Reminded me this article:

http://www.bugei.com/virtue.html

crbateman
09-09-2011, 11:33 AM
It is hard to know what the outcome would have been if you had chosen a different action. In a situation like that, I would try to think of how I would want to be treated in similar circumstances, and govern my actions accordingly.

As Ellis Sensei has eloquently stated, it's not an aikido thing; and not a budo thing. It's letting your conscience be your guide. Don't be hard on yourself, as you were not in the wrong; you just didn't have the opportunity to run an inner dialogue and introspection. You will be better prepared if you encounter a similar situation in the future.

donhebert
09-09-2011, 12:58 PM
Hi Robin,

A teenaged Aikido student I once knew was asked to explain the fundamental essence of Aikido. His response was that Aikido was a practice that fostered the ability to respond to any circumstance in a way that would create the most good. I have always admired his amazingly thoughtful answer and have been humbled to try and to live up to this ideal.

A good portion of my own life seems to be on a path that I call, with some self irony, "The Way of the Mensch" and I can say from experience that trying to be helpful to other people is full of perils. For example (and I say this with all due tolerance), I have been spit at, reviled, misconstrued, blamed and once, while tending to an intoxicated woman I encountered lying in the middle of a frozen road, nearly bitten. I have also been thanked and repaid in kindness. I have also passed people by. So you might say that, for me, being a person of conscience is a bit of a pain. One never knows for sure what the outcome will be. That fact you are troubled by your experience comes with the territory and I believe that the world needs more people like you.

I have become more cautious over time and a bit more realistic and thus I like the post from Tim Ruijs where he lists his rules for helping someone in trouble. To these I would add:

5. for specific interventions, make sure you have the skill required by the situation to actually make a useful difference

I am sure that good can flow from people who are willing to be uncomfortable in service of their ideals. Also, a sense of humor helps. I wish you the best.

Don Hebert

graham christian
09-09-2011, 01:06 PM
This morning I was waiting for the bus in Shibuya station and there was a guy sprawled on the pavement with his face down and his arm at an awkward angle. He was dirty, but not incredibly so. He might have been homeless, but if he was, it didn't look like he had been for very long.

There would have been thousands of people going past that stretch of pavement this morning and not one of them stopped to see if he was alright. I was a few meters away waiting for the bus, and I couldn't tell if he was asleep, unconscious or dead. From his position, I would say that he wasn't just asleep, but I can't say for sure. He may have had too much to drink and passed out.

So, what did I do? I got on the bus. I wanted to get to work on time. I made the wrong decision.

What is Aikido for if not for situations like these? To me, budo is about more than facing an attacker. It is about standing up and taking responsibility in difficult situations. This was a difficult situation, and I could have checked to see that he was okay, called an ambulance if necessary, or if not, then at least given him a bottle of water. I could have taken responsibility, but I didn't, and I regret it.

There is a word in Japanese called hanmen-kyoushi (反面教師). It is a person who does the wrong thing, and you learn from their example and do the opposite. Please use me as such.

Nice. A true budo view. Well done.

Regards.G.

Thomas Campbell
09-09-2011, 01:42 PM
. . .
Reminds me of a zen (I think) story.

===
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. . . .

You left out the final line where the senior monk says, "Don't worry, I've got her phone number."

thisisnotreal
09-09-2011, 02:00 PM
don that was great. :)

gates
09-09-2011, 02:11 PM
You left out the final line where the senior monk says, "Don't worry, I've got her phone number."

That would be Ikkyu then.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/150277.Ikkyu

"At the age of 77, Ikkyu had a passionate relationship with a mistress named Lady Shin. She was a blind singer and composer and a very skilled musician, and she was in her late thirties. He wrote lots of beautiful graphic poetry celebrating their love, and it was in Lady Shin that Ikkyu finally located his own missing female self" (Aaah the elusive missing self, yin and yang UNITE, if only my teeth could bite themselves, my torch shine inward to light up that void)

"My naked passions, six inches long.
At night we meet on an empty bed.
A hand that's never known a woman's touch,
And a nuzzling calf, swollen from nights too long"
(I do not guarantee the translation) I know some of you guys are sticklers for that stuff !

Diana Frese
09-09-2011, 03:01 PM
Having read the wise and moving entries on this thread, I'll just offer a story about one of my senpai's from New York Aikikai many years ago. She was about fourteen years older than myself, I think she might have been about Arikawa Sensei's age (at the time I remembered peoples ages by their Japanese zodiac years)

Keeping in mind she was much shorter than I. but had studied kendo, iaido and Japanese classical dance in addition to Aikido. And, she was walking closest to the building while I was walking closer to the street. It was I who noticed someone seemed to have fallen,next to the building and too dark to see clearly, but she who took action.

First I thought it was a drunk person, then two very thin people. One seemed to be strangling the other. Cassandra sprang into action and managed to pry the attacker's hands off the almost victim's throat. All I did was point at the would be perp wandering down the street.By that time there were some people gathered around, so one of them brought him to the lobby of a nearby building and the doorman asked, "Why'd ya do it, man?"

The almost perp replied in a flat monotone "Nothing else to do...." As I had suspected his mind was not all there, at least at the time, and probably due to drugs.

My senpai's comment was that the only thing she could think of to say at the time she acted was "You stop strangling that person!!!"
It was kind of endearing that a senpai would wonder if what she said at the time of saving a person sounded silly.

Anyway, that's a true story, and thanks everyone for being sincere, thoughtful and wise in sharing your opinions of what to do. As for myself, I didn't have confidence in my own ability to act, all I used was the power or suggestion and others carried out the action.

I guess if any of you are in a situation at that moment you will use your best judgment of your capability to act to help or remedy.

gates
09-09-2011, 09:49 PM
It was I who noticed someone seemed to have fallen,next to the building and too dark to see clearly, but she who took action....
All I did was point at the would be perp wandering down the street......


I wouldn't underestimate the importance even of seemingly small acts. People have different skills... first somebody has to notice, otherwise nothing can be done about it.

Another little story
I was standing outside a nightclub. The bouncers had just escorted a couple of gents out the door. After a few minutes of bad language and posturing one of the chaps through a beer bottle at the bouncer, it missed his head by 6 inches and smashed on the wall behind him.

He saw red and reacted, rushed at the guy and pushed him over backwards. The chap fell down, his head landed just over the edge of the curb as a bus came around the corner, it missed running over his head, I kid you not, by a cats whisker. It was one of those slow motion moments.

I was 10 feet away, my jaw dropped as a mass brawl then ensured with fists flying everywhere and a dozen people fighting and grappling rolling around punching one another.

To be honest my instant reaction was a mixture of bewilderment and anger, how dare they behave like such animals when everybody else is out to have a nice time.

I shouted as loudly and authoritatively as I could, with a bellowing voice I shouted something out. I cant even remember what I said exactly, something silly along the lines of 'what do you think you are doing !! That guy just nearly got his run over by that bus" and from the depths of by belly I screamed (kiai-ed may be a better way to put it) 'STOP' in the most commanding voice I could.

Very much to by surprise, everybody suddenly stopped to see where the voice had come from, I remember the bouncer quite vividly as he perked up like a little mere cat, it was if they had woken from a dream (Jogged out of a fit of rage). Looking back I think that they must have thought it was the police.

Anywho naturally I was pretty happy with the end result. Fight stopped, and I managed to keep my distance and didn't get wacked or bottled for interfering.

valjean
09-10-2011, 02:54 PM
I don't know what the aikido thing to do is in situations like this.

Working (and walking) through various cities, I pass by homeless people, panhandlers, and folks stretched out on the ground all the time. Sometimes it's a lot more salient to me than others. Many of those situations involve people who are in need of help. I guess that it's good to help in a situation where you can see that help is needed, and you have the capacity to respond while safeguarding yourself. On the other hand, it's also true that the world is full of need and suffering, and our own moral obligations cannot be defined purely in those terms. This seems like a basic problem of daily living that everybody has to struggle with from time to time.

You mentioned Kitty Genovese and bystander apathy somewhere in the thread. Me, I'm reminded of the old Milgram experiments, where average folks were frequently manipulated into administering (seemingly) lethal shock to another human being in the laboratory. The story goes that there were two groups of people who were broadly resistant to the Milgram effect: electricians and physicians. The supposition was not that those folks were more ethical than anybody else, but merely that they were more knowledgeable about electrocution, and therefore better able to assert themselves and to recognize danger in the laboratory situation. Maybe that's the best that any of us can strive for -- heightened awareness of the vulnerability of others, of our own potential for apathy, and of the need to intervene when intervention seems called for.

Makes me think of a different kind of episode. I was on the street in a somewhat deserted city neighborhood, returning to a parked car after a business meeting. A woman on the street charged up, began screaming obscenities and demanding money, placed herself between me and the car I was trying to reach, and was being as physically aggressive as she could be without actually touching me (attack posture, leaning in to put her face in mine, etc.). Kind of scary, and at the time I wasn't sure if she was on drugs, or maybe in withdrawal, or what. I mostly avoided eye contact with her, continued walking around her without adopting an aggressive posture, politely said "no" in response to her repeated demands for money, and eventually got myself into the car without physical incident. She cursed and stormed off.

Was that a successful or aikido-like encounter? I don't know. I know that I didn't want to hit her, or to be hit by her. I suspect that that came across to her, and that she had just enough self-control not to go over the line into a physical assault. But did she need help? Probably. Might she have presented a subsequent threat to others? Maybe. Should I have called the police? I don't know. It's easy for me to imagine ways that the immediate encounter could have gone much worse. But could I have responded better? Maybe. It's hard to say.

robin_jet_alt
09-10-2011, 09:35 PM
Working (and walking) through various cities, I pass by homeless people, panhandlers, and folks stretched out on the ground all the time. Sometimes it's a lot more salient to me than others. Many of those situations involve people who are in need of help.

Me too actually. Usually they have found a corner to curl up in and try to stay out of people's way in Tokyo though. They usually just want to be left alone.

It took me a while to notice it, but this guy was different. He was face down on the pavement, in a noisy, sunny area with heaps of people walking around.