That kanji "DO" sure does some wonderful things, doesn't it? If it was absent in the original question, we would have an almost entirely different thread (one I thought would revolve around the principle of Aiki). Instead the question really becomes "are techniques really aikido?" or something like that. The Tao Te Ching says according to one translation "The Ways that can be walked are not the eternal Way; the names that can be named are not the eternal Name." (Victor Mair trans.) Could it be that what we practice is not "aikido" at all, but merely a pattern that reveals a greater ideal. As far as practical application (real life stuff, whether it be protecting your life, or diffusing verbal conflict), that is not "aikido" at all, merely the human facade of that higher ideal.
By trying to live our lives according to that higher ideal, having it pressed into our mind via our conscious intent, we interrupt the ideal of aikido. At some point we have all come into contact with persons, teachers of this art, who personify this ideal without thinking about it as much as we do. Sometimes we think they don't think about it at all, that they live it, that they are enlightened. Maybe so.
In other words, can a "DO" translate into a thing, techniques, and still remain a "DO"? Or are techniques like shadows on a wall, a visual pattern of things that hint at some higher ideal, some source that we can feel, but lack the resources to actually perceive? Perhaps through training we can walk the path without trying, without distinction and separation. Perhaps we will never overcome the human condition, and we will just have to be happy with who we are and what we have.