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Old 09-12-2012, 10:08 AM   #42
Dojo: Aiki Kurabu
Location: Elizabethtown, PA
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,110
Re: inferiority complex in aikido

Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Granted that the response was perhaps unnecessarily cryptic (or perhaps necessarily so), but I think perhaps this tentacle of the discussion is verging on reductionist and perhaps unintentionally confrontational. I understand that the boot camp example was just that, one was, wasn't it, and not some kind of statement that boot camp is the ultimate getting-in-your-head challenge that human beings will ever face? The problem is, in the US we live in a culture that venerates the military sometimes to excess -- by which I mean that our veneration sometimes takes an ugly turn into disparagement of anything else, discrediting of the validity of the views of anyone who has not served in the military, etc. So, I think the use of military experiences as benchmark examples can sometimes backfire a bit.

At the same time, the famous quote "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" and its many derivatives is in much the same category: true, at least technically, but not always helpful. It has become a platitude. The statement itself encompasses extremes of duress and endurance, but it can, and often is, used in a rather glib fashion by people who have experienced no such extremes and who do not respect the trials of those who have. I confess that my usual reaction on hearing it is, "What the hell do you know?"

The military is an example of what I believe sociologists call a total institution, where a person does not have a normal level of autonomy. Prison is another example, so is a cloistered religious community, so is a cult. One would hope that a martial art is not. In a total institution, while it is theoretically true that no one can make you feel inferior (or anything else) without your consent, you have little ability to change your condition, even to simply get people to leave you in peace. All you can do is try to learn the system so you come out on the top side of the rules. That's got nothing to do with superiority, inferiority, or belief in either.

Rambling on...
Yes, the boot camp example is just one example of an environment where people can get into your head; and it is by design. One of the core objectives of boot camp is to break down the individual and build up the team member that follows orders - there is just no time for a democratic discussion in a combat situation.

One of the points of my initial post was objecting to someone making a statement about the boot camp environment as if they had first hand experience with it that was very contrary to the experience of others I know that do have the experience - so, I essentially asked for more detail associated with that person's boot camp experience - that is all. Now if that person has no boot camp experience, then a more appropriate comment from them should have been something like this: "Even though I have no boot camp experience, I do have experiences that I feel are very similar and I think that........" I would have had no issue with that type of comment.

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