09-23-2011, 03:47 PM
I am an American, and I am not alone. I am proud of my country, its traditions, its history and its people. Our citizens come from all parts of the world, bringing the best and the worst with them, since our borders have always been designed to not discriminate or profile indiscriminately, with unfounded prejudice, blind intolerance or an unreasoning hate for the unknown and the seemingly strange. We are a North American country, yet are irreversibly and undeniably linked to all countries and societies on Planet Earth and our mutually combined goals of general welfare and national security.
Something has changed, and there is no going back. The malicious and calculated attacks on September 11, 2001 targeted not only innocent lives, but a way of life that has admittedly proven flawed, inconsistent with its stated values and principles, and fraught with the perils of living in a society that grossly overspends and over consumes over just about any other existing society. Yet, we have our good points, with an undeniable track record of generosity, open minded compassion and a leaking pocket book that helps less fortunate societies and people, often at the shameful expense of our own. We have been the world's policemen, bank account, rescuer of nations, and have tried mightily to share our beliefs in democratic policy making and the rights of all human beings to have a fair share of the world's bounty and riches. We have not always been successful, but we never quit trying. We have made, and continue to make gross errors in judgment, inconsistent execution of democratic policies, and posses a shameful and checkered record of not practicing what we preach. Yet, we are a magnificent people, bloodied and resolute, determined to learn from our mistakes and to continue to share our love for the essence of freedom with any who are willing to work with us to accomplish uniform equality for men and women who wish to be free of tyranny, wherever they may live.
I have always, always felt that the American experiment is Aiki driven, and that the Founder would have been duly proud to be an American, even as he was Japanese. Of course, I would not argue if any other country would claim O Sensei as one of their own as well. No wonder that the principles of Aiki and Ueshiba Aikido resonate so congruently with our life styles, our standards of fairness and self determination, and our dogged determination to never quit in the face of obstacles, both from without, and from within our beloved country. We are invariably willing to forgive, but to never forget the attacks that misguided people and cultures perpetrate against us and our way of life. And, we are willing to try once again to forge reconciliations and relationships that reflect our ever expanding knowledge and appreciation for one another, and to actually appreciate and acknowledge our cultural differences.
This, my friends, is Ueshiba Aiki at work. This is Universal Aiki at work.
On this, the 10th anniversary of a horrific tragedy replayed on countless mediums, we may do well to remind ourselves that true vigilance is constantly required, and the willingness to act without hesitation are still the hallmarks of a vibrant and ready nation. You see, the attack on the United States was also an attack on the Aiki sensibilities of good people everywhere, and we cannot let that go gently into that good night. We need to constantly remind ourselves and each other that "Love is High Maintenance", and that we must never shirk from doing our best to preserve that which we love, those that we love and the reasons why we love what we are trying to become, and why we exist. True Aiki is 24/7. We can and must commit to do no less.
09-27-2011, 11:19 AM
Dear Francis Sensei,
It was a pleasure to meet you at Bookman Sensei's 30th anniversary seminar.
And as you learned there I carried a somewhat unique perspective of that day. I concur wholeheartedly with your column. The only realization that I have come to is that; they say, " Aikido is a way to reconcile the world" , but I find that I cannot reconcile with people who are trying to kill me and that it is a two way street. I carry on daily as I did before 9/11 with each new person I meet to seek their intention(s).
In fact "vigilant" is inscribed on my hakama. Sometimes this is the best that I think I can do.
09-27-2011, 11:23 AM
Freedom is not free.
We must stand vigilant in loving protection.
09-27-2011, 01:22 PM
I enjoyed that very much, thank you! That was a wonderfully balanced description. I often find myself stuck between two groups of friends. On one hand I have friends who have a kind of blind loyalty and cannot seem to see the areas of blame we as a nation are due. On the other hand I have friends who seem only to see those errors. It always takes a lot of effort to show the validity of the "other's" stance in the minds of each "side." You seem to bring both forth with so much ease, it's very refreshing for me. Thank you, again!
We must not allow people to trade one baseness for another. Those who would hurt the innocent in their pursuit of the guilty seem only to fuel further baseness in response. We must hold one eye to the possibility of battle to be prepared for any which may arrive on our door-step; and we must hold one eye to peace so we may heal the wounds we can. Maintaining the balance is damned hard...and is one of the reasons I believe martial arts like Aikido can hold a unique position to help the situation.
So yet again, thank you very much!
09-28-2011, 05:30 PM
I love being an American and am not always proud to be one. I do love being free and come from generations who have fought for that freedom. These thoughts and yours make me think and appreciate this country and it ideals. Thank you.
09-29-2011, 01:45 AM
Thanks for the eye-opener, Francis. Looking back on 9/11, and on the motives that terrorists had for that fateful attack, it reminds us of how such ventures often have opposite of the desired effect. Adversity can be a powerful means to unite and focus an entire people. This is not what the perpetrators sought, but it is what they got. If only it did not take such a radical and awful event to remind us to turn away the petty and unite for the common good. The world needs unity; it needs focus; it needs the Aiki spirit.
10-03-2011, 08:48 AM
Great article, great comments on what it means to be an American and to believe in, and work towards.... Aiki.