This post from another thread was so thought-provoking it merits another look.
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
There is always right and wrong...good or evil, etc.
Sometimes it becomes hard to define it. Especially in situations such as ethnic fighting where it is possible for both sides to be right and be fighting over a differences of perspective. Which seems to be the crux of the equation with israel and palestine-both sides are right.
I think it is very short sighted to state the aikido is only a martial art and should be practiced in the dojo. In would be very unfortunate for Aikido and all martial arts to have it compartmentalized into the confines of that limited environment.
Aikido is a way of life for many of us. It is a dynamic philosophy which at it's base provides a wonderful foundation for building your personal principles upon. Yes, in many ways Aikido can be an answer to solve big problems!
An excellent post, and I'm sorry I didn't respond to it sooner. I agree with almost everything you said.
I disagree, in part, with the first paragraph. It omits something missing in a lot of these discussions of politics: the process of victimization.
It's all very well to say that "both sides are right" in any conflict: but that stance ignores the moral obligations of the side with more military might, or entrenched power.
Let's take this point away from Palestine and Israel for a moment, since that topic is so charged. Let's talk about slavery, and discrimination (less charged, lol). Most (?) of us here can agree that slavery is an evil institution, right? Yet the slave-holders in the South had "solid," economic reasons for owning slaves: their very livelihood depended upon it. To ask them to give up owning slaves without offering a viable alternative brought forth the same kind of anger seen when environmentalists ask lumber-workers to stop cutting down trees…they have a family to feed, bills to pay.
Now, you could say that both Abolitionists and slave-owners had a "point," or were "right," as the slave-owner could argue that he takes good care of his slaves, as well as provide for his own family. Is he "wrong," because there are some bad-apples who misued their slaves? Yes, because the whole discussion ignores the victimization inherent in the institution of slavery. No matter how kind the slave-owner is, he is still contributing to the process that robs ppl of their identity and culture (when his son grows up, he is going to want slaves, and the cycle continues).
Without acknowledging this destructive cycle, we run the risk of institutionalizing it, as we have with discrimination. The longer this cycle is unaddressed, the more ingrown it becomes into our laws, customs and beliefs.
It's the same between Palestine and Israel. The Israeli's have their points (of course), but the fact that the Palestinians have been living in repressive conditions for many years seems to get ignored by the pro-Zionists. More often, the discussion is approached as if Palestine and Israeli were two separate countries facing each other down over disputed territory, instead of an occupying army whose government increasingly controls more and more of the facets of Palestinian life: their food, water, medical attention, contact with the outside world.
But what does this have to do with Aikido, my girlfriend (and, maybe you) ask?
O Sensei was a vocal opponent of war and an advocate of peace (debate this if you will, but I can document everything I say, here). He actively opposed the war between US and Japan. Should all Aikidoists become liberal, antiwar activists? No, but if you are studying an art that uses alternatives to force, shouldn't you stop to consider how to use less force, or violence, in your own life? If there is someone in your life you are knowingly (or unknowingly) causing harm, isn't it Aiki to at least consider alternatives?
And if this harm is done unwittingly, or through subterfuge, isn't it Aiki to at least understand the mechanism of deceit?
Somebody please: explain to me what is so "un-aiki" about meditating on the sources of violence in the world, and how we contribute to it.