Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
I practiced in Jerusalem for many years. In one of the dojos I was in, we had a minority of Arab students who were an integral and healthy part of our dojo. I left before the most recent uprising, and I'm not sure if Arabs continue to practice in the dojo in the current atmosphere of tension, although I'm certain they would still be welcomed. In the other dojos, there were no Arab students. Ironically, the dojo that did have Arab students (which was the university dojo, and the Arabs were often but not always university students) was largely run by a sensai who leaned quite far to the right. He was, to a large extent, stepping in for the main Sensai who was busy being a succesful director and leaned quite far to the left.
In all of the dojos where I practiced we rarely talked about politics (a rare choice in Israeli society). I think our understanding was that to have a healthy influence on our surroundings, we needed to begin by creating peace within the dojo, and this meant finding better and more important things to do than bickering about the settlements. Everyone I know has plenty of experience with this bickering in the rest of their lives. I believe (and I hope) that this didn't stop people from either side from working hard for the things they believed in when they stepped out of the dojo.
I'm not sure that it makes sense to derail this thread with my own particular feelings about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and its relation to AiKiDo. Perhaps if Neil wants to discuss it with me, he can e-mail me.
Thank you for your insightful post, Opher. Please feel free to offer your views either here or via email.
As you might imagine (see my original post), I've been thinking about the role of Aikidoists and world peace quite a lot, recently. I don't think that Aikidoists should all go on rampages, carry signs, or do anything they don't normally do in their lives...except to constantly question our role in how this world is shaping, because we are the central shapers.
It's all well and good to utter platitudes like: "change comes from within" or "there will always be conflict" and go about your spiritual growth if the country and world are in a (relatively) stable state.
But not only is the world in a fever-pitch of war, the US is largely responsible for getting us there.
How have I heard several Aikidoists respond to the aggression against the Third World? They cheer(!) They make fun of peace demonstrations! This, from the practictioners of an art of peace!
Now I am not looking for an Aikidoists-for-Peace-Glee-Club, as my girlfriend put it. It simply astounds me that so many Aikidoists fail to see the correlation between training in a martial art of harmony, and questioning the status quo that endorses such violence...worse: in a few cases, they actually endorse the violence, as well.
P.S. When I say "question:" I'm referring to the silent listening and thoughtful introspection that precedes it, as well: not a political discussion during class. Like the sign says on the wall of Aikido West (Redwood City): "Shut up and train."