View Single Post
Old 01-01-2009, 05:30 PM   #29
Joe McParland
Joe McParland's Avatar
Dojo: Sword Mountain Aikido & Zen
Location: Baltimore, MD
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 309
Re: What to do when someone engages you...

Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Didn't mean to be snarky. It helps that I do know the guy personally. He's not naturally the turn-the-cheek type, but he has learned that when you live among other people, you have to pull in your horns a lot of the time. He's a happy person, hardly suffering through "hell on earth".
Thanks for that, Mary

I don't know the fellow, it's true, but I did try to read the piece with an open mind. I found it poignant, witty, and even touching; however, my gut reaction was that the discourse does not mesh with my own experience of Christianity (from my youth), other faiths (from interfaith studies), budo (from military service and subsequent martial arts studies), or most recently from zen studies.

Here is an experience I had last March. I was with my then-seven-year-old son. Only through happenstance did an elderly gentleman intervene before I could have. I certainly ran the risk of leaving my son with the image of his father dead on the floor, it's true; but, that's only one hypothetical outcome. Another is that, for my having done nothing, the situation escalated, the wired security guard drew his weapon, got into a struggle and started firing, stray bullets killing random patrons including my son.

Who knows?

Now, to be clear, I did not go out of my way looking for a dangerous grocery store. I did not go looking for a fight. I did not relish the opportunity to test and prove my aikido skills. That is, nothing drove me to do something. Similarly, my thoughts in that moment were about moving my son to a safe distance so that I could act. That is, nothing drove me not to do something either.

You can ask my wife and daughter whether this makes me an idiot or if they feel less loved for it. In the end, though, this is who I am and that is the mind I consciously try to cultivate in my different endeavors.

By the way, here's a story about the regret I felt in not having acted once plus all of the speculation. No aikido, just a set of dilemmas and hypothetical outcomes that exemplify these types of situations.

On not getting involved, maybe the most extreme case is highlighted by the famous poem, "First they came..."

Not everyone gets the big Ghandi moment, or that Jesus Christ moment, or "Hold that hill, Soldier!" moment, but I suspect everyone encounters lighter versions of the same over a lifetime. How would we face them?

Last edited by Joe McParland : 01-01-2009 at 05:34 PM. Reason: So many words, yet I still forgot some! ;-)

  Reply With Quote