In 1987, Chiba sensei asked me what I thought of the state of aikido in the US; part of my reply included an observation what a shame it was that the masters of the "Art of Harmony" couldn't seem to get along. In reading these forums lately, I cannot help but wonder: was that appraisal too harsh? We all have clay feet…
Why can't we all just get along? As I write this, in the back of my head, I'm hearing the voice of Jack Nicholson playing the President of the United States in the movie Mars Attacks. Probably because it was just before the Martian ambassador shouted "Ack, ack, ack" and vaporized him with a ray gun, right in the Oval office.
In stark contrast, Takahashi sensei's consistent salutation "In Oneness" doesn't imply peace through superior firepower. It's a call to action. For if indeed, aikido is a "way to reconcile the world" then it requires each of us to re-examine our core beliefs in light of the fact that doing so will necessitate some philosophic flexibility, not unlike the physical ukemi we enjoy. The discipline we apply in the dojo must inculcate in how we interact with the world.
Anyone who knows Takahashi sensei, knows he holds the members of the ASU in very high regard. And although the term is commonly used as a pejorative, the true definition bears thoughtful consideration: a "minion" is a favorite or a dependent. Knowing Francis as I do, I am confident that he meant the former… no doubt, unintentionally offending some of his dearest friends.
Francis is passionate in his support of the Ueshiba family, and rightly so as an anointed shihan, but not because he is a shihan. He believes in the Founder's vision, as, I hope, most of us do. In that vein, I request that we all try to treat each other with a little more understanding and compassion.
Now, back on the thread topic: As for me, the biggest benefit of my association with the Aikikai has been the friendships I've developed with some really fine people from all over the planet, most holding very different opinions on all sorts of important topics. Somehow, we don't let it get in the way…
Anybody else want to reconcile?