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Old 07-05-2010, 03:09 PM   #26
Gorgeous George
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

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Michael McNamara wrote: View Post
Sorry man....I'm Italian...We treat our meat better in death than they were treated in life......Lots of love......
It's fine by me; it negates everything you've said about compassion for others etc. though.
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Old 07-05-2010, 03:10 PM   #27
Gorgeous George
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Oh, btw, I'm a hard core Vegetarian boarding on Vegan.
.
I had wondered if there were any other ethical vegans on here, actually...
Why are you a vegetarian - if you don't mind my asking?
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Old 07-05-2010, 05:11 PM   #28
Keith Larman
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

I've always wondered with these sorts of questions. If someone had attacked o-sensei with the intent to kill him do you think the attacker would have left the confrontation still breathing? Or without injury?

How is "order" restored to the universe in the event of an attack? Does it mean talking him out of it? It might mean calming him down. It might mean being pinned until he calms down. It might mean a busted arm. It might mean a concussion from the impact with the ground. Or taking his bat away and taking out a kneecap? Or it might mean his knife ends up in his ribs instead. Attackers don't always give you choices. And each person's level of ability to "resolve" conflict (not to mention situation specific issues) don't always leave one with an infinite number of options. Or to put it another way, maybe the safest place for the attacker's gun to be pointed is back at the attacker's center mass. Such that if it goes off, at least his body will stop the bullet instead of hitting some innocent bystander. Philosophy is a great thing -- a guide, a means of understanding one's goals. But... When the rubber hits the road sometimes you find that the domain of possible actions becomes severely constrained. Then what do you do? Sometimes restoring order might mean that other guy *will* be severely injured. Or killed.

There was a famous story (which I'm not sure is true) about the late Ed Parker. Apparently he had a confrontation with a group of young "toughs" on the side of the road at night. Parker picked the closest guy wearing a white shirt who happened to be well lit by the headlights of his car. He shattered his nose in the blink of an eye leaving him with blood gushing down his shirt. That was enough to take the desire to fight out of the rest of his friends. So an act of "pre-emptive" violence prevented further violence. Right? Wrong? Order restored? I would hate to even consider what kind of damage Parker would have brought to those kids. He was the fastest guy I'd ever seen.

In the movie "History of Violence" there was a horrifically violent scene where the main character stops two homicidal maniacs in his diner. Frankly I was glad it was so graphic because the director wanted to show the absolute horror of something like that. And the fact that there was little else that could have happened to prevent violence. Sometimes the only question is *who* is going to get hurt or die. So maybe the only choice is to choose whether it is the innocent or the not so innocent. Yes, it is ugly. But life isn't always cookies and sunshine.

So... Shrug. Of course some of my friends like to call me "Anakin" for my approach to Aikido. So consider the source.

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Old 07-05-2010, 05:42 PM   #29
Janet Rosen
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

I consider myself the only person who has the right to take my life. Therefore while I will try to do no or minimal harm to the sloppy drunk or mentally ill person who is merely an aggressive nuisance, if I perceive somebody to be attacking me with genuine malicious intent, all bets are off.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:17 PM   #30
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Quote:
George Howard wrote: View Post
I had wondered if there were any other ethical vegans on here, actually...
Why are you a vegetarian - if you don't mind my asking?
It is a personal thing for me. I think that there is too much killing and too much suffering in the world. Animals bear a significant part of this suffering in the name of efficiency and profit, all so we can eat them.

One day I woke up and read an article about the meat industry and I just felt it was not for me any longer. That was about 12 years ago.

There is no need to eat animals, so I don't. It is really that simple for me.

I have no issue with those that hunt, or animals that are killed compassionately. With no natural predators, for example, we need to control deer populations etc. I think there are humane practices that are commpassionate and justifiable.

I think that if we are going to evolve as human beings as a species, it needs to start with how we treat our planet and how we treat other life forms on the planet.

Harm is harm IMO, and I don't see a difference between harming people and harming animals unnecessarily.

I think there is much merit to what Ghandi said, be the change you want to see in the world.

All that said, I don't preach to others or look down on them etc because they eat meat etc. Again it is a personal choice for me.

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Old 07-05-2010, 11:41 PM   #31
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Sorry...had to do it...



Kinda puts things into perspective.....

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Old 07-06-2010, 07:32 AM   #32
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

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Michael McNamara wrote: View Post
I completely agree. I still fail to see a NEED for this, but you are on the mark.
If by "I still fail to see a NEED for this", you mean "I don't feel this need myself", well...maybe. Maybe you've never been a newbie at anything, or you've always been enormously capable at everything you tried right from the start (or at least, you thought you were). Maybe you've never felt the need to seek for security when you felt shaky ground underfoot. It's pretty normal to feel this way, though, and also normal to behave in ways to try and feel more comfortable. Feeling and doing otherwise is something that people have to work towards, not something they're born with.
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Old 07-06-2010, 08:16 AM   #33
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
If by "I still fail to see a NEED for this", you mean "I don't feel this need myself", well...maybe. Maybe you've never been a newbie at anything, or you've always been enormously capable at everything you tried right from the start (or at least, you thought you were). Maybe you've never felt the need to seek for security when you felt shaky ground underfoot. It's pretty normal to feel this way, though, and also normal to behave in ways to try and feel more comfortable. Feeling and doing otherwise is something that people have to work towards, not something they're born with.
Actually, I think it's something that developed with me when I got older. The WANTS sort of dissolved over time.

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Old 07-06-2010, 08:40 AM   #34
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Really no one here, who knows it can by joy to hurt someone?
The joy of demonstrating ones power, ones might.
Or joy dominating someone and being able to ...

So if you don't know feelings like this, why do you practice a martial art?
Why do you practic techniques which will hurt, maybe badly your opponent? (hiji kime osae, irimi nage, atemi nage ...)

Do you really feel no joy when controlling uke?

Carsten
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:34 AM   #35
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

To be honest, Carsten, not in the sense that you mention anymore. I used to be like "cool" look what I can do!

Today, for me it is much more about the process and methodology, mastering it so I can do the things I need to do.

It is about the bigger picture for me. I get just as much enjoyment out of failing as I do winning these days!

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Old 07-06-2010, 11:45 AM   #36
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
There is no need to eat animals, so I don't. It is really that simple for me.
I totally agree: it's that simple for me too - why kill when you don't have to?

I'd probably disagree about killing deer to 'control the population': the biggest population control 'we' have is that of the human population, but to control that in such a manner would be - largely - seen as abhorrent...then there's the 'population' of captive animals raised for food - those billions are the ones really harming the planet/human race, and the human race has deliberately, unrepentantly brought about that population.
I mean, the 'meat industry' can be argued against solely on the grounds that these people are a threat to my life and my 'race': i.e., I wonder what the next 'flu' variety will be...

But I digress...
I'm just of the mentality where I cannot square going to aikido training, where I am learning to care for the most harmful people - those who try to take my life, theoretically - with going and eating a steak (or whatever piece of carcass) afterwards: i've just spent hours learning to care for others, and preaching the futility and abhorrence of killing, only to go and eat a corpse for a bit of fun/convenience.
It seems entirely counter-productive to me, and aikido - like everything that I do - has some meaning to me.

Anyway: go vegan, man - you'll save more animals!
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:52 AM   #37
Gorgeous George
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

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Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
Really no one here, who knows it can by joy to hurt someone?
The joy of demonstrating ones power, ones might.
Or joy dominating someone and being able to ...

So if you don't know feelings like this, why do you practice a martial art?
Why do you practic techniques which will hurt, maybe badly your opponent? (hiji kime osae, irimi nage, atemi nage ...)

Do you really feel no joy when controlling uke?

Carsten
But then, half of aikido is being controlled...but then: I thought - from my lofty position as 5th kyu - that both partners in aikido are practising aikido - you both yield, and are in harmony, and both avoid destruction/harm: you are both in control, and the point of ukemi is to safely avoid harm - uke stays 'live'/alive....?

I mean, I don't get how anyone can choose aikido for the purpose you describe: I know that there are those who saw o'sensei as an incredible martial artist, but they're gone, and now people tend to see the most effective MA as one in which there are strikes, and competition, etc.

The fact that aikido, prima facie, is purely defensive, surely sees that those looking to gain joy from dominating and having power over others, like a serial killer, choose something more aggressive, more amoral as their martial art...?
The point of aikido techniques is that you don't badly damage your 'opponent' - there isn't even an opponent, in fact: you are meant to yield to the other person, which necessitates having compassion for them.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:58 AM   #38
Brett Charvat
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

"It's fine by me; it negates everything you've said about compassion for others etc. though."

--So, it's impossible for someone who eats meat to be genuinely compassionate toward others? Fascinating. I always get a bit amused by folks with these attitudes, who seem to think that the plants they sustain themselves on didn't have to die in order for them to live. All life is sustained at the expense and execution of other life.

Sorry for the thread drift.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:05 PM   #39
Janet Rosen
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
Really no one here, who knows it can by joy to hurt someone?
The joy of demonstrating ones power, ones might.
Or joy dominating someone and being able to ...
So if you don't know feelings like this, why do you practice a martial art?
Why do you practic techniques which will hurt, maybe badly your opponent? (hiji kime osae, irimi nage, atemi nage ...)
Do you really feel no joy when controlling uke?
My joy, whether as nage or uke, is in the challenge of finding and maintaining connection. We join together, it is both our energy making it happen. Frankly my greatest joy, what makes me laugh out loud, is when as uke I find myself on the ground w/ no idea how it happened.

I also want to point out that domination and the power dynamic of domination and submission does not necessarily have anything to do with hurting the other.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:09 PM   #40
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Hi folks,

Let's try to keep the topic pertinent to aikido here in this thread. Please start another thread in the Open Discussions forum if you want to continue the discussion on being vegetarian/vegan.

Thanks,

-- Jun

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Old 07-06-2010, 12:42 PM   #41
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

What the heck...

To me, WANT and NEED demonstrate a condition, not an action. NEED defines a necessity, WANT defines a desire. Both conditions require an action is order to accomplish the condition. Without the knowledge and capability to act on the condition, you cannot fulfill either a necessity or desire. I WANT to be a millionaire, and I NEED the money; however, I do not possess the ability to become a millionaire (i.e. there exists no action I can undertake to acquire one million dollars). That's why I buy a lottery ticket...

I randomly WANT to commit a violent act at least three times a day (usually while sitting in traffic, but I have occassionally wanted to destroy my office desk after whacking the back of my head...). I also NEED to eat food, drink water, and perform other functions throughout the day. Each day I have many choices to act on my wants and needs; I am defined by those choices. Aikido is about learning how to make better choices.

In my decisions to act I am constrained by my knowledge and capabilities specific to that action. I have the necessary skills and ability to accomplish the action I INTEND to undertake.

To address the original post, I believe that:
1. Budo provides a knowledge base to empower use to use force (intent) and make good choices (action). The longer we train aikido, the greater knowledge base we have on which to draw well-planned intentions, and act on those intentions.
2. A WANT is symbolic of a desire. Someone [who in seriousness] WANTS to harm another is expressing a disturbing desire.
3. A NEED is symbolic of a necessity. Someone [who in seriousness] NEEDS to harm another is expressing survival.

Aikido is about learning both to control your own decisions and present solutions (controled by you) to your partner. There will be occassions where the decisions you face in life will be difficult to make; aikido is also about learning to make those decisions with dignity and courage.

Now, for some personal observations that disturbed me in the original post:
1. Fighting sports like boxing and MMA are spectator sports. The purpose they service in society in entertainment. This purpose is not unlike Hollywood, athletic sports, recreational literature, or a myriad of other facets of culture. Who is to say they serve a purpose more our less beneficial than another occupation?
2. Try killing someone barefisted. Its hard. I've only done it 6 times (I'm lying). Seriously, wanting to kill and killing are completely different and outside of the realm of possibility for most civilians. Lots of things that I want happen in my mind that do not translate to reality. Put me in a car and I am very capable of killing another... Thou shalt not kill more functionally represents what most of humanity can observe.
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Old 07-06-2010, 02:14 PM   #42
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
What Marc said...and Keith! lol!

Oh, btw, I'm a hard core Vegetarian boarding on Vegan.

I also have no issue with dealing with folks that need to go away permanently.

Unfortunately, there are some very bad people in the world.

WANT vs NEED

well it could be semantics. I definitely don't WANT to kill anyone that doesn't need killing. However, some people NEED to be killed as they are very bad, and I really WANT to do that if they NEED it.

How does that impact my Kharma? Well, it does, but I sleep well at night. I try and make sure to live a good life that is balanced and I try to live right and compassionately.

I think the world Needs people that are willing to stick up for the oppressed, weak, and seemingly helpless and show them that there is hope.

Unfortunately, in this day and age not everyone cares that we want to be peaceful and compassionate.

I hope that one day we can have a world in which everyone can get along and there is no need for violence, harm, or killing.

I think/hope that Aikido represents a meaningful way in order to teach us to be strong, have courage, and to look deeper into understanding the hard/tough issues. I also hope it gives us courage to resolve to act in the right manner when this needs to occur. We need people that are able to do this in the world.

I think that philosophically one day, that the world will not need aikido anymore once we have transcended conflict. Budo/AIkido is a bridge.

Unfortunately, I also think that alot of folks misinterpret and develop revisionistic visions of what it means to resolve conflict and begin to think that all conflict can be resolved peacefully.

A noble thought, but not realistic in today's world.

The life giving sword is much more complex I think, than most want to believe...it requires much more than simply a presence. It requires a WILLINGNESS to do Harm in order to STOP harm.
Great post Kevin. Worth putting the whole thing here again! Thanks.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
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Old 07-07-2010, 11:32 AM   #43
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Graham Jenkins wrote:

Quote:
The point of aikido techniques is that you don't badly damage your 'opponent' - there isn't even an opponent, in fact: you are meant to yield to the other person, which necessitates having compassion for them.
Hey Graham. I disagree with this actually.

I don't think Aikido is pre-deposed to yeilding or not yeilding either way. It simply is what it is and covers both spectrums.

Of course, much in our practice is designed I think to show us the SPECTRUM of possibilities. Which is what I really think the practice is all about...a complete education....or at least IMO it should be.

I think that showing compassion does not always mean yielding or avoiding conflict or violence.

Spent alot of my time pondering on this and reading. Even the Dali Lama states that compassion is a very complex, deep, and personal issue that is not so black and white.

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Old 07-07-2010, 08:23 PM   #44
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Graham Jenkins wrote:

Hey Graham. I disagree with this actually.

I don't think Aikido is pre-deposed to yeilding or not yeilding either way.
How do you mean?
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Old 07-08-2010, 11:50 AM   #45
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Unless I misunderstand what you wrote...yielding to me as you wrote it implies that there exist a imperative that you always must "give" or "allow" your opponent to have ground.

It could be that this is a good strategy at times..that is, to give up some ground, yield, or allow space in order to gain a greater good.

I do not think though, that this is alway required, nor the smart/right/just...or necessarily the most compassionate choice or solution set.

It maybe be better to enter immediately, to stop before it starts, keep him off balance, never let him launch an attack, or to attack yourself in a decisive manner.

again, I think that Aikido, or better yet the techniques we see in aikido, many times get translated into some ethical solution set that allows us to resolve conflict in a prescribed manner.

Technique is technique. There is a spectrum of violence, escalation of force..etc.

Our job/goal/mission/ethical concern...is to explore that spectrum, understand it, and to make ourselves and competent as possible so we can make the best decision possible when we need to.

Of course, we should always strive for minimal force necessary.

THat though does not necessarily translate into yielding or giving up ground.

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Old 07-08-2010, 12:08 PM   #46
Gorgeous George
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

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Unless I misunderstand what you wrote...yielding to me as you wrote it implies that there exist a imperative that you always must "give" or "allow" your opponent to have ground.

It could be that this is a good strategy at times..that is, to give up some ground, yield, or allow space in order to gain a greater good.

I do not think though, that this is alway required, nor the smart/right/just...or necessarily the most compassionate choice or solution set.

It maybe be better to enter immediately, to stop before it starts, keep him off balance, never let him launch an attack, or to attack yourself in a decisive manner.

again, I think that Aikido, or better yet the techniques we see in aikido, many times get translated into some ethical solution set that allows us to resolve conflict in a prescribed manner.

Technique is technique. There is a spectrum of violence, escalation of force..etc.

Our job/goal/mission/ethical concern...is to explore that spectrum, understand it, and to make ourselves and competent as possible so we can make the best decision possible when we need to.

Of course, we should always strive for minimal force necessary.

THat though does not necessarily translate into yielding or giving up ground.
I guess the way I meant it, was that you have no thought of 'I will do this technique, or that technique' - you yield in the sense that you do not resist the other, but your action is dictated by them. Hence you abandon an ego, or a will/desire - which is where philosophy really enters into the picture - for me, anyway.
This is based on something I read from Gozo Shioda, and how I understand it, anyway (as a 5th kyu!).

I certainly don't see yielding as a weak thing - for instance, in gyaku-hanmi tenkan, I see that (presuming uke pushes/goes towards you) as an example of somebody holding you, and in response, the philosophy is kind of 'Alright: what dose this person want to do? I'll help them' - hence you yield to their desire, and then lead them. I guess if you enter immediately, like you say, then it's yielding in a kind of 'expand/contract' type thing: your will is determined by theirs...or something.

All of this might be absolute bullshit: i'm a 5th kyu, after all, with a philosophy degree, and perhaps an over-active imagination or what have you...
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Old 07-08-2010, 03:49 PM   #47
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Thanks for the clarification Graham. It is indeed hard to discuss this and deal with the different semantics that occur in trying to commuicate digitally without visual or kinesthetic examples to help explain things!

I think to a degree, yes, "no mind" or "no emotion" is the right mindset. That is, you don't become invested in a particular response too, too early, or develop a solution that may ignore other inputs to the situation.

I think as we gain experience we expand our ability to read inputs and situations, verbally, auditory, and kinesthetically.

The study of Aikido is heavily based on the concept of ma ai.

We can learn to take action at the appropriate time with an appropriate response. I think that is what we are striving for.

I just caution not to take that to mean that you must "wait" for the physical attack to occur before you can respond.

I see this alot, and of course, with beginners it happens as most do not have the experience to be able to "enter" or take action without a physical input from uke or an opponent.

I think ultimately if we are successful, there is no need to even go to the physical means of resolution as uke/attacker sees an attack as futile.

Unfortunately, in my experiences, there are alot of people in the world, that fail to recognize this and will attack anyway....AND they may be willing to sacrifice themselves for a 2nd or 3rd order effect for the "greater good".

That rationale on a personal level is hard for most of us to comprehend as we are "sane" individuals that would not take to such levels of risk or sacrifice!

I think dealing with such circumstances, it requires us to take a different approach to dealing with them, one that is completely ethical, yet also does not require us to "give" or expose ourselves to additional risk or danger.

To me this is a very complex topic that is not so black and white and one that takes a great deal of introspect, thought and just plain experiences to understand...AND in the end we still may not get it right!

Last edited by Kevin Leavitt : 07-08-2010 at 03:52 PM.

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Old 07-08-2010, 03:54 PM   #48
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Quote:
Graham Jenkins wrote: View Post
I guess the way I meant it, was that you have no thought of 'I will do this technique, or that technique' - you yield in the sense that you do not resist the other, but your action is dictated by them. Hence you abandon an ego, or a will/desire - which is where philosophy really enters into the picture - for me, anyway.
This is based on something I read from Gozo Shioda, and how I understand it, anyway (as a 5th kyu!).

I certainly don't see yielding as a weak thing - for instance, in gyaku-hanmi tenkan, I see that (presuming uke pushes/goes towards you) as an example of somebody holding you, and in response, the philosophy is kind of 'Alright: what dose this person want to do? I'll help them' - hence you yield to their desire, and then lead them. I guess if you enter immediately, like you say, then it's yielding in a kind of 'expand/contract' type thing: your will is determined by theirs...or something.

All of this might be absolute bullshit: i'm a 5th kyu, after all, with a philosophy degree, and perhaps an over-active imagination or what have you...
I don't think it is bulshit at all. It may just be a little too literal in approach. Being a 5th Kyu though, certainly you are thinking about things on the right level though.

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Old 07-09-2010, 04:37 AM   #49
Michael Varin
Dojo: Aikido of Fresno
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

This thread raises some interesting questions.

Quote:
Michael McNamara wrote:
he said "If you want to kill someone, then do this." which was a mock hit to the thorax.
Why would anyone think hitting someone in the thorax would kill them? I thought those Krav Maga guys were trained to be more precise than that.

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote:
In the movie "History of Violence" …
Why would anyone ever use A History of Violence to illustrate any point other than how bad a movie can be?

On a more serious note:

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I definitely don't WANT to kill anyone that doesn't need killing. However, some people NEED to be killed as they are very bad, and I really WANT to do that if they NEED it.
Who decides which people need to be killed? What is it that makes them very bad? What makes you want to kill them?

Is this a pre-existing, identifiable need to be exterminated thing? Or more of an at the moment their badness manifests sort of thing?

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:56 AM   #50
Keith Larman
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Re: Life Question - Harming Another Human Being

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Who decides which people need to be killed? What is it that makes them very bad? What makes you want to kill them?

Is this a pre-existing, identifiable need to be exterminated thing? Or more of an at the moment their badness manifests sort of thing?
You're not seriously asking that, are you?

Okay.

In the larger scheme of things society does this through the justice system. That's what laws, courts, police, etc. are for in that larger context. Each society has its own answer to the extent it will go in this area. And it is of considerable debate.

In the context of war it is generally fairly straightforward -- the soldiers of the other side. It can get very messy, of course, but that is a discussion for a different forum.

In the context of someone breaking into my house and actively approaching my family armed with a large kitchen knife, well, the person who decides this issue would be, well, me in my hypothetical. I would be deciding to protect myself, my family, or in other scenarios someone else for that matter from a person actively trying to do harm. Certainly not an easy decision to make and I've never had to make it. And I don't know how I'd act under that kind of stress. However, I do train with some awareness that should something like that happen I hope to be able to act decisively. And likely then fall apart later like a little schoolgirl.

Did you have some other scenario in mind? Or is this conversation going to change from the OP's original question to the larger question of "who decides" as some sort of philosophical issue? Frankly I wasn't considering any scenario other than the last one -- the horrible situation where there is a life threatening event occurring. And I have a hard time believing that most people here were talking about anything beyond that a la a Dexter sociopath/psychopath or vigilante justice.

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