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Well...he was. You had to be crazy to take on social reform in the time he did in Japan. There was a revival of the Samurai mentality that shaped the Japanese military and Nationalism that thrusted Japan into the WWII. Japan and their mighty new romantic revival of being Samurai once again led to the slaughter and hideous practices by the Japanese army. Massive wide spread raping of women in the Philippines, The Bhutan death march. The senseless butchering of the Chinese people. The Japanese military where in lock step with Hitler. It was a time where the Japanese Emperor Hirohito was thought of as literally a god. His people never saw him or hear his voice until Japanese surrender. It was a time of much killing and brutality under the call of nationalism and a return to the past. But the Founder, not completely void of such feelings or views did do a turn about. He seen the value in compassion and peace. To achieve his goals for his country he had to be the nail sticking up risking being hammered down.
I was told a story about my sensei's father who became a Christian. For Japanese to be Christian is a big deal in those days around the late 1800s, being a Samurai. I will make it brief, as it is a long story. My sensei's mother died and my sensei's father was over-whelmed with personal grief. Japanese are not well known in those days for compassion toward each other. During his period of grief, he happened to run into two Christian nuns. Upon seeing his grief they show compassion to is pain. It was a powerful personal experience that deeply effected him, it was over-welmingly profound experience. The simple act of human compassion. When he arrived home, he made the decision to be a Christian. He was not asked to be by the nuns. They simply showed compassion for his pain of losing his wife. It wasn't easy for him to be a Christian in those days of the Samurai, in Japan.
I see great similarities in these stories. Parallels of two men who where enlightened by elements foreign to the Japanese at that time. Elements not strong in the Japanese culture until decades later which are still not as strong outside Japan. Elements strong in Aikido.