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Old 08-16-2011, 08:37 AM   #32
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,135
Re: To help or not to help

I think George Sensei is correct, budo is about empowering yourself to make better decisions and be a better person; as a better person, you inherit obligations to improve the world around you. What have you contributed with your life if you do not improve the world around you?

That said, I think the fantasies of thwarting a mugging or saving a baby from a burning building are hypotheticals that are entertaining but not practical. We all have our opinions of what we would do, but the safety to know the chances of encountering the scenario in question are pretty slim. I am impressed by those individuals who I know that have encountered those dangerous situations and I appreciate their actions even if they are not consistent with what I believe.

There are the everyday decisions that we face that take courage and conviction. For some, the two are the same; firefighters, police, military, physicians, etc. These people entertain dangerous scenarios as their role in society. Lifeguards, for example, are equipped to conduct water rescue. Lifeguards receive special training to empower them to perform water rescue. Civilians do not have that special training - a few classes at the YMCA is not training.

However, there is that rung down. A more practical question for most of us, I think, is how can we exercise the fruits of our training in our daily lives? How do you tactfully tell your boss she is wrong? How do you decline a beggar with dignity but conviction? How do you keep your distance from a stranger? How do you compassionately chastise your child?

This is where we prove our hypocrisy, right? We preach on about samurai spirit and courage in class. Enter under the blade, blah blah blah.Then we leave class and avidly avoid confronting our problems.

Helping can be a big thing or a little thing. There is risk in helping. Unfortunately, even asking someone to turn down the music is dangerous. That's a critique about the tolerance of society though. Some people can help big. They have training and skills to inherit danger and manage risk. But even if you can't help big yet we can start small. When was the last time you mowed your neighbor's grass? Or helped an old lady cross the street? Bought the groceries for the single mom in line behind you? Do you call traffic police when you see a car broke down on the side of the road? I think budo is about transforming the answers to these questions from "that's not my responsibility, some else will do it." to "I am able to help so I will".
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