Well, that's a radical change from Stuart's posts. Same situation, different attitude...
To answer your question, I'd say that the Founder (Morihei Ueshiba) tried to find the meaning behind Budo (martial art). Through intensive practice and study, he examined the problem of violence, and found out that the true meaning of Budo is to restore peace, from inside the individual to the outside world. Aikido is the result of O Sensei's quest. Uniting mind (philosophy and personal attitude) and body (techniques and health), man and nature, individual and society, the program is very ambitious. My little experience has only given me a glimpse of the big picture, but I'm getting more curious every day.
Louis R Joseph