Thread: The Best Way
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:04 PM   #2
Dojo: North Winnipeg Aikikai
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 265
Re: The Best Way

To return to the other examples I used earlier, my music and religion came to me much the same way. I didn't choose to be born and raised in the United Methodist Church, and the acoustic guitar landed in my lap during an elective class my senior year of high school. Does that mean these things aren't vital and meaningful parts of my life? Of course not. But it does mean that I don't really have a leg to stand on if I start to claim my religion or my music are the best in a world full of options. Maybe I might claim that they are the best for me, but even then I'm not saying anything that does me any good in an appeal to a universal or objective standard.
I was agreeing quite contentedly with what you had written right up to this point. It sounds to me as though you are saying two things here: 1.) The serendipitous nature of the beginning of your involvement in music and religion prevent you from claiming your music and faith or superior to all others. 2.) The mere presence of a variety of options precludes any of them from claiming superiority over the rest. Is this correct? If so, I can see some very obvious and serious problems with this kind of thinking. For instance, if a child taking a math test accidently hits upon the correct answer to one of the questions, is the answer any less correct, any less true, any less superior to all the possible incorrect answers the child might have given as a result? Further, since there is an almost infinite number of possible answers (possible answers don't necessarily have to be correct answers) to any math question, would the child be wrong in thinking that there is only a single correct one, an answer that is better than all the other possible options?

One more thing: who cares?

Who cares which martial art (or religion, or music style) is the best? Why can't we just find something that works for us and let it work? Why do we need to be better than anyone else? It's a question that returns to my mind whenever I am foolish enough to read YouTube comments.
I for one care which is best (at least about some things). Mind you, I suppose this is contingent upon what you mean by "best." In any case, would you really want to practice a martial art, or style of music, or religion that was the worst of the available options - even if it "worked" for you? I've seen people practicing self defense methods that would easily get them hurt or killed. Their practice, however, "worked" for them; it made them feel safe and equipped to handle an attack. Should they take your view and just never mind the inefficacy of their chosen self defense approach? Is the illusion of self defense skill to be preferred over the real thing?

Being better than the next guy is not really a motivator for me except if the next guy is trying to harm or kill me and I'm trying to defend myself. In this case, being "better" at defending myself than my attacker is at harming me is very crucial, don't you think? Being better at a given thing ought not to be confused with doing what is best, though. I can be paddling a canoe in the best known method but not be doing so better than the guy in the next canoe.

Most of us, then, have no authority to declare our way better than any other way, and, moreover, no reason to.
I don't agree. Depending upon the criteria involved, it seems to me perfectly appropriate to declare one way better than another. Is baking a cake with cement better than baking it with flour? I suppose it depends upon the purpose for which the cake is being made. If I want to use the cake as an anchor for my boat, then a concrete cake is much better than one made of flour. If I want to eat the cake, then a cake made of flour is better than one made of cement. So long as one is clear on the purpose for which one is doing a given thing, it seems to me to be quite appropriate to distinguish better and worse ways of accomplishing that thing.

Rather than trying to prove how much better we are than everyone else--something we are entirely unequipped to do anyway--why don't we all just get back to training?
Getting back to training sounds good to me! The other stuff...uh, not so much.

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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