Re: Teacher OKs "Avoid[ing] touching females on religious grounds"
Perhaps I am that freak who really believes in freedom of thought and expression. Perhaps I believe in the gentle empathy and compassion of blending-with rather than resisting.
Perhaps an individual has a right to train with whomever they feel comfortable with based on whatever criteria. Forcing them to violated their belief system seems rather un-Aikido-ish. Perhaps with time and mindful compassion, they will change that view. Either way, its their belief and its about them. I have people I tend not to train with. Don't you?
If an instructor chooses in their own school to honor (or not honor) a student's request is their choice and shows their perspective. Its about the instructor.
If another person chooses to take offense/degraded because some one has a different belief, or some one chooses to honor/respect that belief/request - then that's about them, not the other person's belief system.
We all tend to want freedom of belief and expression/choice for what we believe/agree-with. Doesn't that also extend to the beliefs and expression of others, even if we do not agree with them?
If a student feels uncomfortable for any reason being touched by (or touching) another student, I would tend to respect what that student is telling me about themselves even if I do not personally agree with that perspective and position. It may about their fear and ignorance (or traumatic history). I do not expect people to come in with the empathy and compassion (in all three directions in this scenario) that I hope they will leave with.
This may be an unpopular and politically-incorrect stance, but hey, I am that freak who believes in freedom of belief and expression even if its different from my own.
Any thoughts anyone?