I like this post, it is food for thought if nothing else.
I'll throw out a couple comments:
1. Peace s a state of being, not an emotion. We internalize states of being (peace-ful, full of peace) to express that state.
2. Peace is the absence of conflict. It does not inherently contain an altruistic connotation.
3. Harmony is the balance of two or more things in opposition. It does not inherently contain a peaceful connotation.
An earlier post referred to the rhetoric of peace to overcome conflict. I call this expression sympathy and it is a non-physical argument but and argument none-the-less. Aikido does express a sympathetic quality in aligning our attackers energy with our own. However, sympathy is not peace. I can sympathize with a friend who commits a heinous act, but I may not be at peace with that act. (NOTE: my high school English teacher hated the adjective -ful suffix and told us to image people as vessels that could be filled with hope, peace, beauty, hate, etc. - I never got over that...)
I often read about peace inherently expressing a altruistic aspect. However, there are societies under cruel dictators that are at peace because opposition is destroyed. There are murderers who are at peace with their actions. I don't give peace more credit that its due.
Finally, I see a lot of inter-changing peace and harmony. A lion eating a gazelle is a harmonious relationship, but I don't think that gazelle is at peace. A river raging through a gorge is a harmony of nature, but the water is not peaceful. Harmony is not peace, it is a balance. Balance has struggle - a equilibrium in which each opposition may not gain advantage without risk to endangering the relationship.
As I look more closely into budo, I am not sure if peace is/was the proper translation into Western culture for our expression in aikido. I think peace as a state of being is an altruistic goal we set for ourselves as the expression of our understanding of harmony.
I know a handful of individuals who have had to perform extra-ordinary feats in their life, some of them traumatic. These individuals often speak of what they did and how they feel as separate issues. "I know I needed to put down the dog, but I feel terrible about it. "I didn't want to shoot the guy, but I know he would've have hurt me." "I was just following orders, but I didn't like what I did." We read these words all the time, but to me it illustrates an action required to create harmony, and an emotional reaction.
I believe aikido is the path to understanding how to make the best decisions to create/re-establish/destroy a harmonious relationship, and how to be at peace with that action.
I think we sometimes lose focus on this concept because we are civilians and often the most difficult decision we face is which TV show to watch. However, for those who bear more serious burdens, I believe this is key to remaining intact as a person. For example, I cannot imagine what the weight of responsibility a military commander feels when she makes a decision that will end [many] lives. I think budo helps warriors come to peace with the nature of violence, conflict, and the consequences of their actions. This is the martial art I believe I am learning and the role harmony and peace have in that training.
P.S. I reserve the right to amend this perception in twenty years.
Last edited by jonreading : 09-09-2010 at 10:59 AM.