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Old 01-30-2009, 02:08 PM   #5
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 285
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Re: The Magnifying Glass

Hi Jonathan,
Your article left me wondering the following:
Quote:I know we can only fight poverty by sharing abundance, and for that we must be prosperous.
There is currently enough "prosperity" in the world to completely eradicate poverty everywhere. Is the solution to poverty, then, really more prosperity? It doesn't seem like it to me...
Less poverty would mean more prosperity. If the term is troublesome, insert "sustainability" wherever you see "prosperity." I mean sufficient food, shelter, clothing, access to clean water and sanitation, access to medical care and education, in sufficient quantity as to allow individuals to thrive.
Quote:I know that we cannot fight violence and warfare except by living peaceably, and for that we must be more at ease with our own conflicted natures.
How does "being at ease with our own conflicted natures" necessarily result in effectively fighting violence and warfare? Do you really think that if one is conflicted they cannot work toward peace in the world?
I think we are all conflicted, and we all encounter conflict. I would say that this is exactly the place from which to work toward living more peaceably. Being at ease means being able to relax a bit, which most aikido schools agree is a good thing. Being able to learn to forgive (but not indulge) ourselves allows us to be a bit more forgiving (but not indulgent) of others.
Quote:I know that we cannot fight inequity by dragging down the mighty, but by lifting up and exalting the low, and for that we must be either strong or good at finding levers.
You speak of "inequity" and then refer to the "mighty" and the "low." Your terms are rather ambiguous, but the general impression your words leave is that there is a problem if some are "mighty" while others are not. Why is the fact that not all are "mighty" necessarily inequitable?
By definition, if some are disadvantaged by others, there is inequity.
Quote:I know that we cannot bring sanity to the abused and the congenitally damaged unless we see how crazy and broken we all are, and for that, we need... oh! authentic humility.
It sounds like you're saying it takes one crazy person to fix another. Your comment above also seems to assume that everyone is equally broken and crazy and that it is not humble to suggest otherwise. So, I ask: Must an oncologist suffer cancer before he is able to treat it? Is it arrogant of him to offer medical advice to a cancer sufferer if he hasn't suffered cancer himself? I don't think so... And on what basis do you assert that everyone is "crazy" and "broken"? What do these terms even mean, exactly?
Everyone is part crazy and part sane... just in different ways and degrees. There's nothing in my statement that implies or assumes we are equally so, but the admonition to remove the log from one's own eye before tending to the speck in another's applies.

An oncologist must indeed be thoroughly steeped in cancer and must immerse himself in the problem of it. I don't know if this qualifies as "suffering." It is not necessary that she have it in her own body for her to nonetheless be intimate with it.
Quote:Finally, I know that whatever the cost, however great the challenge, we cannot continue to heal a hurt world through the spoiled medicine of self-sacrifice. That path is putrid with the blood of martyrs and the rotting offal of sanctimonious saints who only increase the ledger of suffering.
I find your suggestion that self-sacrifice is "spoiled medicine" and that martyrs of the past were "sanctimonious" and/or their shed blood "putrid" highly objectionable. It is the great lack of genuine self-sacrifice that has created the "hurt world" of which you write! Your words trample on some of the noblest moments of human history.
Perhaps. But I also see in history and in current events the institutionalization of martyrdom as an excuse for the most horrific acts.

Make no mistake -- under certain conditions I would throw myself in front of a car in order to save the life of another. Most people would, given the right circumstances. The life spared should rightly be grateful to the life given, but should also grieve for the loss.

Sacrifice is an incidental necessity. Otherwise, I strenuously object to the promotion of it as a glorious way of life.
Quote:Instead, we desperately need a path, no -- a highway! -- that will speed us to wherever we are needed, but with scenery that contains beauty, and in a vehicle that is fun, sexy, and potent.
Are you serious? I have nothing against fun, potency, or even sexiness (in the right context), except when it is suggested as an alternative to self-sacrifice. And this is exactly what you appear to have done! If I have read you right, the selfishness and superficiality of your above statement is rather horrifying!
[laughs]

What future would you have for human beings? What is your vision of heaven, utopia, or just a more generally perfect world? Do you wish for more suffering or more pleasure? Will you call me superficial for working earnestly for the latter, rather than the former?
Quote:Seen is this light, my test for good aikido (mine or yours) is this:

Does it increase prosperity?
Is it effective in the face of conflict?
Does it lead toward praise and gratitude more often than criticism and satire?
Does it promote the confidence necessary to admit personal faults, failings, and limitations?
Is it a path of service that is exciting and enticing and downright hedonistic?
For the most part, I think these questions have no pertinency to Aikido whatsoever. I am particularly baffled by your last question. It seems rather selfish to me to think that one must be serving oneself while one serves others. Don't get me wrong: I don't think that service must be necessarily onerous, but I don't think that one should expect or insist on service to others being "enticing" and "downright hedonistic". Such service is merely selfishness in disguise.
Oh, not at all!

There is no disguise... my selfishness is plain and happily displayed.

If you truly wish to serve as a way of life, your service must be sustainable (there's that word again). It doesn't really matter if you find sustainability in the manner of Mother Theresa or Ghandi, or Bill Gates. Each of these people did (are doing) what they find rewarding, and they are only successful if their path allows them to keep doing what they love.

There is no successful or useful charitable enterprise that does not look to its own well being. There is such a thing as enlightened self-interest and the greatest good in the world is usually done by those who understand it.

Aikido is simply my chosen path toward a greater understanding of and capacity for enlightened self-interest.

I wish all beings everywhere pleasure, happiness, joy, fun, humor, sex, adventure, health and abundance. I wish for them a path that leads to the same, and I wish for them the tremendous delight in sharing in a way that multiplies rather than divides.

Jonathan, please take no offense at my impudence. It would be far better for both of us if you simply were able to laugh at me. Then we would both know we've done some good.

Very happy to meet you!

Ross
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