WHY OH WHY do people think that taking the initiative is DESTROYING people!!! Taking the initiative can be done at any time, before a confrontation, during a confrontation, or even with no confrontation at ALL!! (by living a good life, being a good person, and constantly training) If you just always sit back and wait for openings, and you're not at a very high level in Aikido, prepare to be pummeled in a harmonious way. But at least you practiced Aikido, your attacker didn't get hurt right?
If someone is trying to kill me or beat the holy living **** outta of me or robbing me, do I care if I make them cry?? Nope, not one bit. Have I done any permanent damage?? Nope.
You're illiciting a response so you can control the situation. This lets you resolve the confrontation in your way. Whether the response that you illicit is an apology, they walk away, they react to an atemi which gives you an opening to peacefully take them to the ground in a harmoniously painful way, or even they are throwing a flurry of punches and kicks and you DO something, it's still taking the initiative.
Initiative != destroying someone. I thought Aikidoka had more control than that..