Re: honorary dan ranking
How about this? If rank is nothing, is something which does not matter, then why give it meaning one way but not the other? Why not just not give rank? What can't someone help out the dojo, share his life experiences, continue to train to or within the limits of their abilities, etc., and simply do so with one rank to last them forever, one rank that marks not what is honorary but what is symbolic of a lot of physical investment in a martial art - that is ABILITY. And why can't that rank ever be a kyu rank?! Why?
Answer: Because everyone who makes use of such a system, those who reward themselves with rank, those who make use of such rewards, those that seek such rewards, those who hold such rewards from others, etc., know full well that without the enticement of rank said folks would have little meaning with which or by which to understand their Aikido training, their relationship to their teacher and to there dojo, and their allegiance to their federation, etc.
In other words, it's true that rank means nothing, at least ultimately or even personally, or rather it is true that it can, but certainly not in these cases. In these cases, rank means an awful lot. And that is the sad part. And making something out of nothing, especially when it is done with institutional support, effects everyone - sooner or later. This it does not because of the charlatans that eventually spring up by such actions, but this it does by the mere fact that what is worth nothing comes to be worth something. It's like a false market, sort of. He/she who has more nothing in the end, in the heads of an ever growing and perpetuating group, comes to feel they not only have more than others but are themselves wealthy. You do this enough, that is to say you participate in this market in order to make it spread, even if it is by your "let it be, it doesn't bother me" attitude, and sooner or later Aikido will be a market of nothing.
If rank is nothing, then treat it thusly - keep it nothing.