Your perspective on violence is dependent on where you sit too. True the Western world dominated by liberal democracy there is much less violence of large scale war. However, in the rest of the third world it tends to be about the same as it always has.
Alot of violence is also mitigated based on the destructive nature of things like nuclear weapons. Which is a big irony based on the latent destructive nature of these weapons.
The potential of violence is always present and we must be very mindful of it to keep it in check. Just because it is not present in day to day life does not mean the latent capacity of it is not present.
I have never equated budo with war mongering. nor do I equate preparedness and focusing on the nature of war as being war mongering either. I don't think working to achieve martial ability or achieve an understanding of the martial nature of things to be war mongering.
"What is the point of training to achieve martial efficacy in a peaceful world?"
The simple answer to that question is to keep the peaceful world peaceful. It doesn't happen by accident. We need people with martial skills to keep certain aspects of it peaceful. (Police and Military).
We need, much greater I think, people that understand the thin line between peace and violence and to understand it's fragile nature. (Informed Citizenry).
IMO, budo can serve both purposes.
What I think is dangerous is the revisionistic philosophy I see in budo. That is, a philosophy that implies that we should abandon all that is violent and martial and seek to re-interpret budo simply as a spiritual practice or physical exercise.
Sure budo is spiritual and mental in its pursuits, but its purpose is to better understand the world through the reconciliation of violence, not the avoidance of it, or abstinence of it.
If we forget what violence is about, then we will be doomed to repeat it and make the same mistakes. Budo is about courage and commitment to mankind and an active stance to stand up against oppression and violence, it is not about ignoring it, revising it, or avoiding it. Budo is about making a stand against it in the most skillful way possible.
IMO, in budo we commit ourselves to a study of the nature of violence so we can learn to manage it and deal with it skillfully. It does require a great deal of humility and reverence to life and compassion. It ain't about the warm feeling we get inside or the spiritual uplifting we feel (narcissism). It is about committing ourselves to something greater than ourselves. The good feelings we get should come from enlightenment or awareness of something greater than ourselves.
By definition, fear is irrational. We have fear because we don't know or can't control something. Budo by its nature is about dealing with fear. By seeking to understand, we can reduce fear, see things more clearly and make more skilled and informed choices.
I can't say if the world is becoming more or less violent. I tend to see it as it does not matter what the current trend is. If violence is in your world, then it is 100% violent. Violence tends to be relative and personal. My own personal philosophical opinion on balance is that it is a zero sum game for the most part. It is always in balance with peace. There may be a cessation of violence, but the latent capacity is always presence. Because of that latency, we must never forget the nature of it and be prepared to stand up to stop it.
So for me, that is why budo is important. It is a matter of life and death and we must keep that basic thought always in our mind when we study it.
That is such a great response thanks! It really hits the points that I wanted to discuss. Lots to think about here.
Being a researcher and a teacher myself, I tend to think of education being the key to reduce violence and incivilities in the broad sense (obviously). But what your answer made me realize (and I hope I understand it right) is that controlled violence can be a vector of education.
One think though, and perhaps it was not very clear in my writing, is that I do not advocate removing all martial aspects from martial arts, but I just suggest that those who seek only
martial efficacy are mislead. That there must be a middle ground where the discipline provides its fullest potential between full on violence and avoidance at all costs.
I actually wrote this article in the hope of getting feedback such as your so thanks a lot for that.