Dave Dean wrote:
But after some more thought I'm not sure I really can accept that definition of violence anyway. It implies that the following things are inherently violent...
This is such a great thread! Kudos to Hooker Sensei for offering up such a good idea, regardless of how many permutations it may have been asked in before this particular thread.
I like Dave's quote here because it betrays the fact that we still take a very subjective view on violence. I like to eat meat, but every time I do, I think about the cow that was killed for my steak. In a sense, it was a form of violence that allows me to live, and it is acceptable, it fits the social perspective. The proponents of PETA would say something like "meat is murder", and they would be entirely justified. It doesn't make my steak taste any less good though.
Dave Dean wrote:
I think a definition of violence has to consider the concept of (not necessarily physical) harm. But a fired shot that misses its target and does no harm is still violent. A tornado that touches down in a junkyard, tosses stuff around that nobody cares about, and then departs without hurting any living beings or valuable property, is still violent. A swear word yelled suddenly inside a car, which the other drivers don't hear, is still violent. Falling down the stairs or sliding your car on a patch of ice and hitting a tree have no harmful intent but are still violent. Meanwhile, such things as poison, illness, and negative thinking cause harm, but are not necessarily violent...
Here I think is where the argument splits into two camps: harm. We always look at violence as causing harm; we reference the idea of violence through the filter of "harm is bad, no harm is good" and we are entirely justified in doing so.
I looked up the word "violent" and it comes from a latin word meaning strength. Nothing is wrong with strength, right? But strength causing harm is bad, wrong, morally deplorable. We don't look at a tornado as wrong, it is beyond our control, what we still refer to as an "act of God", even though we know it is the atmosphere that caused it. And Dave is correct, there are lots of ways to cause pain, injury, and death that we would not consider "violent".
Rationalizing our actions becomes little more than trying to fit patterns to events. Why? So we can learn from them maybe, and use the pattern to our benefit. We live in a violent universe, a universe of force. Birth is violent, I have three sons and witnessed them being born, but it was a beautiful violence. Maybe what we are doing in budo is learning about violence, using it where it is fitting, releasing the emotional baggage surrounding the pattern. Maybe we learn to use the force in the universe, free from the mental agitation when we think we need or are confronted with violent activity.
I saw some of the newer Hubble photos showing two galaxies colliding. That is violence on a level we cannot even comprehend, but it is a wonderful discovery. Aikido to me means applied violence, the best use of force. I think if we divorce it from the ideals of emotional pain and harm, either through seeing it as an empty force, or by reversing the polarity, and calling it love, we begin to see things very differently from most of humanity, and that is a blessing.