I left something out of a previous post, which had gotten too long, and then work and home duties prevented me from studying the rest of the thread in depth. But I want to say that Carsten's posts are always interesting and well thought out and have a convincing background in his personal experience as he has mentioned, especially the religious point of view, so I'm going to just jump in for now and add some detail about Saotome Sensei, whom I mentioned along with Yamada Sensei and Dobson Sensei as each having different approaches to the value of Aikido to Society.
To be brief, Saotome Sensei's point of view in his lectures and conversations was that O Sensei's message tied in with present day concerns for the environment. The honeybee crisis in the news these days was foreshadowed by the problem some Japanese farmers faced as a result of the overuse of pesticides. This was in the mid 1970's. When his classes became popular with a wide variety of college students, I felt part of the reason was that his message resonated with the concerns of a lot of Americans, and that maybe he felt that in Japan, people were not ready at the time.
I respect the teachers that do not teach the connection to the environment in practical terms, that we should be directly concerned in such endeavors, it should be up to the individual. It is possibly just one of many interpretations of O Sensei's message. But "Aikido and the Harmony of Nature" is a book that is a good resource for anyone to read of the connection that Saotome Sensei feels could be made from O Sensei's teaching to concerns of the modern world.
So I believe in all three approaches, because Yamada Sensei, Dobson Sensei and Saotome Sensei were all teachers of mine, and I am grateful to them. Every day, even in my regular daily life, I see examples of how their teachings are relevant to me, even personally, and to everyone else on our little planet here.
Thanks for reading, I will go back to studying the thread whenever I have a chance. Judging by the amount of responses and their serious intents, it is one of the more important threads on Aiki Web and gets to the heart of many matters.