I have had the opportunity to visit dojos in Canada and the U.S. I have seen all colors of belts and many different styles of aikido. I have seen shodans who seemed 5th kyu and 5th kyu's who could have been shodans.
I aspire to improve. I test to test myself. I pressure myself on most tests because it brings out the best in me.
This weekend we had a shodan party for a new black belt. The new black belt sponsored the party to thank all those in the dojo ( beginners to our teacher) for helping him achieve his rank, by either improving his skills, or by him teaching them, which helped them to improve and for him to better understand his own by helping others.
I don't begrudge the yellow belt or shodan from another dojo who has recievd there rank through a different system. Hopefully they can teach me to be a better aikido practitioner and I them.
When I earn my shodan I will finally begin to really learn aikido.