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Okaaaay kiddies, thanks GC for this post; it's had me spinning for quite a few days.
I talk more about the intellectual and emotional dilemmas of learning/practicing aikido than anything else because it seems the greatest (in more than one sense of the word) characteristic of this discipline is that it offers choice. Choice to maime or not, choice to run or not, choice to impose the self on an outcome or to allow the self to be imposed upon. The choice to choose.
If you are only aware of one way to respond then there can be no decision. Or shame in the decision itself further on down the track (though remorse, for example, can be attached to other parts of the experience). What I am talking about, though, is the inevitable complexity of this response when a choice is possible. And further, the intellectual and emotional situation that may introspectively tangle us long after the physical has occured.
[A few side arguments. If one has choice but lacks introspection, has the significance or maturity of the choice been made negligible? If this is negligible, is there still a choice being made? Can we draw a parallel between the journey of learning aikido and learning about onesself, and does the second emerge to supercede the first over time?]
It would seem superficially that we seek justification for the undesirable choices we make. Further, to who? A simple answer would be that we either seek to please our society, our family, our God, etc. and either justify the lack of positive influence we would like to be known for or appease the expectations of others/ourselves. This is the simple answer. Reputation (either with self or others) seems the most typical motivator for those living in an egalitarian-style setting.
A more complex answer can be likewise simple, but requires a modicum of thought.
We seek justification for our actions and choices that are less than ideal. Negative outcomes, for example, where our judgement is within blame. Blame! The converse! Justification for poor choices from ourselves, blame for the poor choices of others. One seeking balance through grasping for positivity, the other seeking balance through distancing the negativity. Both concepts lie within a collective consciousness.
What is it about this collective consciousness that promotes individuals one-upping themselves? 'Survival of the Fittest' enacted? This can't be so, or the coercive effect of community couldn't wield so much influence. Then why do we have such unfailingly idealistic expectations of ourselves and others, that concepts such as blame and justification can even come into it?
Let's illustrate, test, with a concrete example.
A man wakes on a desert island without supplies.
a) He see a wild animal, kills it in rage at his situation.
b) He see a wild animal, kills it in sorrow at his situation.
c) He see a wild animal, kills it to eat.
d) He see a wild animal, kills it to restock his backup supplies just in case he ever needs it.
e) He see a wild animal, kills it by accident.
f) He see a wild animal, tries but fails to kill it.
g) He see a wild animal, does not try to kill it even when starving.
h) He kills himself in his rage at his situation.
i) He kills himself in sorrow at his situation.
So. All examples were removed from external society, coersive or not. All consequences were limited to one man and one animal. Which examples would have inspired blame or shame or justification? All, some, none? Which ones? Why?
I'm not going to answer this; partly because of the sheer variety that every answer would bring, mostly because people read on to the next line in blogs for an answer without pausing. Go think it over yourself.
I will leave the post with this though (not much more to this facet, that's for another day). We talked about blame and justification both being present, both seeking balance. In what situations? What is the fulcrum? Balance for what? To what purpose?