Re: To help or not to help
Great post from both Jon Reading and George Ledyard...as well as a few others too!
Where to start? Not sure, but a few thoughts come to mind based on my experiences, military of course.
In my community, a smaller subset of the military, we talk about sheeps and wolves. Overly simplified of course, but I think for the most part this is true. You can divide most people into two categories, sheeps and wolves. I was on a subway train once and a lady got her arm stuck in the door. I am a wolf, I had to get up, walk past several abled body males that could help that were standing there not doing anything processing her plight. They were sheep.
Wolves take action, sheep follow the herd. I think we are training to be wolves in budo. That doesn't mean we aimlessly prey on the weak and helpless as you might think, but wolves are out there, watching, acting on their own accord, making things happen. Sheep, well they follow the herd and keep their head down and eat grass. Staying in the herd is safety for them. A small border collie is all that is needed to keep them in check. They don't question the herd or their situation, they keep there head down and eat.
So, I think the first question you have to ask yourself is are you a sheep or are you a wolf? That is, do you determine your own actions or do you rely on the herd for safety.
THis is not really related to the sheep/wolf analogy, but I think it is important.
Taking action. I have found that I know when to step in and do something. I know when it is right and I don't think to much about it...I just do it because it is the right thing to do. How much do I weigh my own safety? It depends on many, many factors...but sometimes you just do things cause it is the right thing to do even if you are placing yourself in great personal danger.
That said, knowing the difference between help and futility is a good thing and that does have to come into play I think at some point, however, for me, if there is any chance I can do some good then I will do it. Sometimes you just have to run into a burning building cause it is the right thing to do and you know it is, what can you say. Heros are special people for a reason.
I have had the fortune of knowing some very extraordinary people that have done extraordinary things at great personal risk and sacrifice. I can only say to that...it gives me hope for mankind that we have people that will do things for others without regard for themselves.
I think Jon and George covered it very well. Of course there are some things that you just need to walk away from, or you call 911 for and get help for....absolutely. I think good judgement and common sense comes into play in many situations. However, there are times when it just doesn't apply.
I think budo at least philosophically is about preparing us to deal with not only life, but death. If we are living a good life and are at peace with ourselves, have clairity of mind and calmness, it hopefully allows us to see the honesty of a situation and allow us to simply make the right decision for ourselves when the time comes to make that decision.
Trust. Trust is probably the most important thing. We have to trust ourselves and others in dangerous situations. We are putting ourselves out there on the line and trust is all we have when it gets down to it. We have to trust our training, we have to trust others will help, we have to trust our opponents will act the way we want them to.
I was running around in the Afghan mountains last year with about 20 Afghan commandos that I had never met and knew very little about. By myself and miles from anyone, I had to simply trust that they would do the right things, protect me, and not harm me. There were no guarantees...period. That is the thing about dangerous situations....no guarantees that it will work out for you the way you want it to. Trust is important. Trust yourself, your training and others...might also call it faith, but I think trust is a better word as I don't put much stock in faith as faith implies that I am "hoping" that things work out the way I want them to. Trust to me implies a much simplier concept in which I already know I want things to work out favorably (duh), and I am placing trust in the fact that they will. I participate in the process of trust. In faith I am turning my participation over to something external. For me, Sheep have faith. Faith in the herd for instance.
Anyway, rambling thoughts on the subject.