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Old 11-13-2009, 01:49 PM   #5
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 345
Re: Saluting Salubrity

Dave Lewin wrote: View Post
My question is thus,
how can we reconcile this difference between the two, so that war stops being the easy go-to reaction in our world?

(sorry in advance, for my hastily constructed comments)
Hi Dave,

You should construct more hasty comments... really!

My thoughts come from a long background of being very much anti-war. Ironically, it has been aikido that has slowly turned my thinking around toward an appreciation of war, conflict, and their inevitability. Little by little, I'm making my peace with conflict.

The universe sustains us, but only within certain parameters. Outside these zones, the world is extremely hostile towards life and comfort. So no matter what we do or how we evolve, I think an element of confrontation with the edges of these zones is unavoidable. In this sense, "war" is a fundamental, eternal, fact of existence. We can embrace this truth without subscribing to the perpetuation of its horrors.

A possible path of reconciliation might begin with the acceptance of why war is the easy go-to reaction. From there, I think with vehicles like aikido we can begin to change, not the nature of war, but its character, if that's not too fine a distinction.

What I mean is, we can agree to go to war to resolve some of our differences, but we can also agree that some forms of warfare are better than others. On a global scale, we see the conversation turning from nuclear annihilation to winning hearts and minds. We are not out of the woods by a long shot, but that change in conversation is profoundly significant.

On an interpersonal level, we see how arguments can spiral out of control and do irrevocable damage to relationships. So perhaps we resolve to never argue again, but then we hit a limit, and there we are again, arguing and fighting.

Some wise psychologists have suggested that, while arguing is bad, it's when we stop arguing that the relationship is really over. So what we really need is not to stop arguing, but a better way of arguing.

I see an angry argument as a kind of small scale war. It does not have to lead to physical abuse to still do damage. If we could come to understand that such warfare is common even among lovers, then perhaps there may be a healthy reason for it.

So what I'm really trying to say is that rather than trying to eliminate war and conflict from our lives, we should look for increasingly healthy ways to go about it.

Brandon Williams Craig says that "Aikido is conflict done well." I very much subscribe to that view these days.

As to the history of war, I'm fond of pointing out that the victors are almost always those who out-cooperate the enemy. The evolution of weaponry of which you speak can only happen through concerted efforts of research, manufacture, transportation, and deployment through coordinated action and staging.

We say this nation beat that nation because of superior weaponry, and that is almost always the case (though note the instances of successful asymmetrical warfare to underscore my main point). But our focus on the technology masks the underlying proof of success via human cooperation.

The express results of this harmony may be horrific, and this must change. But let us at least begin to recognize that the real power of victory has come from people working together, even as they aim to work against others.

As to your photon-induced-happiness-gun, I'm with you. But my pessimistic side wonders if even that wouldn't get perverted into pacifying a population to the point where they will accept the worst kind of injustices.

We need our outrage. We need our will to fight. But we also need better tools, better strategies, better habits of thinking, so that our fighting can be (dare I say it) healthy fighting.

I do think it's possible. I do think it's necessary. I think we still have a long way to go, but this is the central reason why I persist in doing aikido.

There must be a better way. Aikido is my chosen path for exploring and discovering it. Even the smallest grains of insight are priceless treasures.


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