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Old 08-10-2002, 07:45 AM   #1
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
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Reason for Thought

Hello all!
Something happened the other day that gave me reason for thought; my first opportunity to use some Aikido skills - sort of - in real life. I thought I'd share it with you.

The other evening, I didn't have much to do, so I drove into Toronto to walk around downtown - I love the night-life. Anyway, I was window-shopping my way past a video store when I noticed a man inside behaving very strangely - furtively, that is - showing all the signs of a poor thief, which is what he turned out to be.
The TV in the store was showing a popular film; while I watched, the man took the video out of the machine and, eyes on the floor, made for the open door, where I was standing. (The counter kid was on the phone at the time, talking to the girlfriend and not paying attention to the store.)
When the man reached the door, he looked up and realized I wasn't moving out of the way. (He didn't have to look up very far - I'm not short, but he was taller and bigger, by about 50 pounds.) He set his jaw and started to bull past me.
I'm no stranger to street situations; should he have decided to offer violence, Id've been able to handle him, but (and here's the odd bit,) this time there were none of my usual physiological changes associated with fighting: the surge of adrenalin, the clawed posture, the clenched-teeth growl, the silent intensity. I just stood there quietly, calmly, inside as well.
Anyway, as he dropped his gaze and started to push past me on my left, I raised my left hand to my shoulder, in a 'stop' gesture, with the hand relaxed. His eyes followed my hand, and he stopped. He looked at me. I turned my hand over. He put the video in my hand and stepped back passively. I stepped aside, he left, quietly. At no time during the encounter did either of us say a word.
I walked to the counter, gave the kid the tape and a brief lecture on paying attention at night. (Picked up Lord of the Rings while I was there - kid gave me 10 bucks off for my trouble. Heh.)
Later, I thought I should have held the guy there for the cops but no; up till that point, he hadn't actually committed a crime yet - it was better he left like that - no loss, no foul, if you take my meaning.
Anyway, that's my story. A reasonably short time ago, I'd simply have dropped and pinned him, no question. This time, after only a few short months taking Aikido, I allowed the situation to evolve in a non-violent way knowing that I could have dealt with his violence if required.
Interesting, I think. And a valuable lesson to me in the value of Aikido's non-defensive aspects.
I'd be interested to read what youse guys think about this situation.

Dave

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 08-10-2002, 07:53 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Deepest compliments. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps not just a reason for thought, but a reason for gratitude. Compassion works.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 08-10-2002, 08:07 AM   #3
IrimiTom
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That's something to be proud of, Dave. With all these constant threads about running away from an attacker, etc, etc, I've come to the conclusion that aikidoka should try not to run away from a fight, but to walk away from one instead. With all your armed forces training, it's amazing that Aikido gave you that calm in conflict attitude (although it wasn't an armed standoff, and you said once you've talked your way out of some of those...)

I don't get one thing though, you didn't have anything to do and you went to Toronto? Was Sportsworld closed?? Just kidding... Kitchener will be the place to be in about 2 months though... (not sure that's a drunk smilie but it's close enough...)
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Old 08-10-2002, 08:14 AM   #4
rachmass
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Hi Dave,

That was a great response, and worked wonderfully for you. I am sure your response gave the would-be thief pause for thought, and maybe his actions will be different in the future (we can all hope).

Personal question for you, and maybe irimi Tom; where do you practice? I am in Toronto every other month, and certainly try to train when I'm in town (my hubby is from Oakville, so we are in the area a lot), but would love to know of other dojos to perhaps visit when I'm in the area.

Thanks, Rachel
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Old 08-10-2002, 08:26 AM   #5
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
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Quote:
Tom Grana (IrimiTom) wrote:
I don't get one thing though, you didn't have anything to do and you went to Toronto? Was Sportsworld closed?? Just kidding... Kitchener will be the place to be in about 2 months though... (not sure that's a drunk smilie but it's close enough...)
ROFL!

Believe me; NOTHING'S worse than being in Kitchener for Oktoberfest! I don't drink beer, and oompah bands are the bane of my existence, but the worst thing HAS to be all the young poseurs - you know, all the weenies who, for 48 weeks out of the year don't listen to anything lighter than Megadeth or Slayer (whatever those bands are called) and suddenly start shouting "Walter Austenak!! Awriiiight!!!" Hee hee!

Rachel: I train at Kitchener-Waterloo Ki Aikido, on Charles Street, Kitchener. We meet Wednesday and Friday, 7:00 - 9:00 pm. It's about an hour out of T/O. Our Sensei is Mike Henderson; great guy, great instructor. If you ever wind up in KW, look us up and say 'Hi!"

Dave

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Old 08-10-2002, 09:31 AM   #6
IrimiTom
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Rachel: I train at the University of Guelph. Technically we have a dojo, but not too many people and nothing fancy (we use the wrestlers' room in fact), so I would assume that visitors would be welcome



Dave: when you took up Aikido, did you go straight to KW Ki or did you check out Golden Triangle as well? As I understand it, they are Aikikai in style, but they are the ones that bring Pat Hendricks Sensei to Toronto for seminars, so more specifically probably they are an Iwama-ryu dojo, and I've always been curious about aiki-ken and aiki-jo in Iwama-ryu.
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Old 08-10-2002, 10:23 AM   #7
aikido_fudoshin
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Rachel, come visit Sendokan dojo in Etobicoke. Classes are held in the Etobicoke Olympium which is beside Centenial Park. For more info visit http://www.aikido.ca/sendokan/ Sendokan dojo will also be hosting a seminar featuring Robert Mustard Sensei from Aug. 23rd to 25th at St.Martins high school in Mississauga. All info is posted on the website. For more info on Robert Mustard Sensei visit http://www.aikido.ca/burnaby/
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Old 08-10-2002, 10:30 AM   #8
mike lee
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Cool beware of overconfidence

Every situation is different and one has to follow their instincts. It worked out for you this time, but what if he pulled a knife or was packing heat? Would it be worth dying for a $12 video tape?
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Old 08-10-2002, 12:04 PM   #9
Kevin Wilbanks
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Another point: I don't know the laws in Canada, but in many places in the US, getting into a physical altercation in that situation could get you arrested and/or sued. Vigilantism is not looked upon kindly by judges, and it seems pretty clear that it would not be considered self defense. Things have gotten so silly now legally, that even in those circumstances 'dropping and pinning' him could get you into major trouble. Sometimes history of martial arts training can escalate the charges to something more along the lines of assualt with a deadly weapon.
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Old 08-11-2002, 06:43 AM   #10
DaveO
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Thanks for your replies, folks.

Mike: To those trained in their use and counter, the effectiveness of weapons and hanguns in particular, are grossly overrated in today's society. Knives, being direct weapons, are far more effective and dangerous than sidearms in extreme close quarters, but an attacker still has to draw and ready it. In the situation described, should he have made any such attempt, he would have been disarmed, injured or otherwise removed as a threat long before he could complete the action. That's not overconfidence; that's knowledge, training and years of experience in the field of unarmed combat.

As for the tape, the goods themselves have little bearing; it's the commission of crime itself I acted on - whatever he was trying to steal is insignifigant compared to the fact that he was trying to steal. Under those circumstances, yes, intervention was well worth the very minimal risk to my own health.

Kevin: You're absolutely right about the laws being screwed up, but much of my response to Mike answers it - the risk is worth it. Besides, in Canada as in the States, we have a section of the law few people refer to. In Canada, it's Section 252 of the Criminal Code of Canada, empowering any person to make a citizen's arrest under certain conditions. It's not much, of course, but it's there.

Thanx, all!

Dave

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Old 08-11-2002, 10:58 AM   #11
mike lee
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Cool variables

Consider, for example, a contest in the Octagon. In addition to their own training, each fighter gets as much intel about his opponent as possible -- beginning with basic facts and figures such as age, height, weight, reach, fighting style(s) -- and continuing with lesser tangible info such as strengths, weaknesses, habits, etc.

By fight time, there are still a lot of variables, but each fighter does his best to eliminate as many of the unknowns as possible.

He even has back-up in the form of the referee and his cornermen who can stop the fight at any time if he is no longer able to defend himself.

Now consider the number of variables in a street situation. One could say that they are infinite. Law-enforcement officials are acutely aware of this problem and do their utmost to compensate for all of the unknowns by, for example, having a partner, a potential back-up via radio, they are armed with a variety of weapons, and they are specifically trained to deal with a wide range of confrontations.

The average citizen, even an off-duty police officer, is not sufficiently prepared to make an arrest on the street, unless it's an 80-year old jaywalker who isn't a tai chi chuan master.

While it's good to be confident, it's also good to re-evaluate situations afterward and consider the large number of variables at play. It could save your life in the next encounter.

Last edited by mike lee : 08-11-2002 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 08-11-2002, 11:52 AM   #12
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Mike,

good post. UFC and other such contest are just that, contest. There are rules, albeit that are probably fewer than most situations but their are rules. Both explicit rules and implicit rules.

The implicit rules are what everyone forgets about. That would be rules related about the environment (which you mention).

You are in a well lit ring with definitive boundaries. There are only two of you. There are no weapons, broken bottles, etc. you know your opponent's strengths and weaknesses. The outcome and motivation for winning are known up front. etc, etc.

These implicit rules change a great deal about the martial situation. On a street all bets are off.

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Old 08-11-2002, 12:23 PM   #13
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I believe this situation is more about principle then it is about personal safety. Imagine what this world would be like if we lost that principle of standing up for what is right and confronting the problem directly. There are not many people that are willing to do it but those that have in the past are considered heros today. Look at Martin Luther King for example. He knew he could have been blown away at any time yet he still stood up and confronted the problem directly. Although this is a much larger issue then petty theft, I still believe we need that quality of standing up for whats right in all our lives to make the world we live in a better place. I really dont understand this whole running away thing that everyone talks about in these forums. Sure, avoiding physical harm would be most beneficial for yourself, but look at how it effects society. From what I understand Aikido condemns running away and teaches us to confront the problem, move into or with the attack. This should be applied to real life. I dont understand how people can be satisfied with carrying that avoidance quality all their lives to stay away from physical harm. Personally, not doing anything in the situation Dave had (or any situation similar) would hurt me more mentally then it would physically.
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Old 08-11-2002, 12:42 PM   #14
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Cool post Bryan, you and I must be on the same wave length. I just posted a new thread on peace versus righteousness in the Spiritual section. Really asking about the same thing.

The tough thing to do is face adversity sometimes. When I was younger I always met conflict head on with both barrels, priding myself as a warrior not afraid of anything. Got me into lots and lots of trouble.

Today, a little older and little wiser, try to choose my battles and win the wars. Sometimes running from a battle (avoiding conflict) is not a bad idea. You have to figure out which ones are worth fighting for, and more importantly, never fight a fight that you will lose.

Just finished watching a great genre film called "Samuari Duel on Ganjryu Island". A japanese film about a fight that mushashi had. A guy wanted to fight him real bad to prove he was the best. Musashi had some personal issues that were in his way. He avoided the fight for many years, eventually choosing the time and place (Ma' ai.} of the fight.

This brings me to another collorary/maxim. Always fight on your own terms and choose the battlefield. Sometimes that means avoiding the fight.

If someone muggs you, giving him your wallet and running is the best thing to do in most cases.

If your life or your families lives are in danger, you may not have the luxury to influence the situation to the degree you would like to and you may have to face the fight. Hopefully all your physical and mental training (and a little luck) assist you in getting out of the situation on the better side of things! But even in that situation you may have some choices, albeit they may be very, very narrow!

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Old 08-11-2002, 03:39 PM   #15
Deb Fisher
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aikido_fushokin wrote:

"Imagine what this world would be like if we lost that principle of standing up for what is right and confronting the problem directly. There are not many people that are willing to do it but those that have in the past are considered heros today. Look at Martin Luther King for example. He knew he could have been blown away at any time yet he still stood up and confronted the problem directly. Although this is a much larger issue then petty theft, I still believe we need that quality of standing up for whats right in all our lives to make the world we live in a better place."

I heartily disagree. In democracies like America and Canada anyway, we don't utilize a principle of 'standing up for what we think is right' all the time in the way Mr. Organ descirbes it, because if we did, our democracy would devolve into a dictatorship ruled by the strongest and most popular views of "what's right". Martin Luther King should not even be a part of a discussion that is really about vigilantism - he worked entirely within the democracy that exists, using non-violent methods and enormous groups of people to **demonstrate**, which is constitutionally guaranteed and profoundly different from taking the law into ones' own hands. Changing the law using non-violent protest, oration, etc, is fundamentally different from enforcing the law without having the authority to do so.

Beyond the constitutionality of vigilantism, why should it always be acceptable to stand up for what you think is 'right' ? What does 'right' mean? I find the righteousness of Mr. Organ's anecdote distasteful. Sure, shoplifting is 'bad', but none of us know anything about the thief, including his motivation or milleu, and even if we did, none of us have any authority to force him to adopt the same idea of 'what's right' that we have - we hire LEOs for that, ideally so that no one person's idea of 'what's right' becomes applied as law. Part of living in a free society is being able to make decisions about how you live your life. The shoplifter made a decision, knowing that he could get caught by someone who has the authority to administer punishment, like the police. Mr. Organ, by deeming himself an authority on 'what's right', did nothing but strongarm a single individual into momentarily accepting his agenda. I don't want to live in a society in which this is okay - I'd rather pay higher prices for videotapes because of shoplifting than delude myself into thinking I belong in an authoritative role in some stranger's life over a ten dollar item *that is ultimately their choice to steal*.

Kevin Leavitt wrote:

"Today, a little older and little wiser, try to choose my battles and win the wars. Sometimes running from a battle (avoiding conflict) is not a bad idea. You have to figure out which ones are worth fighting for, and more importantly, never fight a fight that you will lose."

It was only a videotape. Why risk injury or death, but more importantly, why stand in judgement over this man when he wasn't hurting anyone as much as he was hurting himself? This isn't bravery - this is dictatorial behavior.

Give me inflated prices on videotapes or give me death,

Deb

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Old 08-11-2002, 05:10 PM   #16
rachmass
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Hi Deb,

I understand your argument and can agree with it for the most part, but I think what Dave was saying in his original post is that he took a non-violent course and averted a theft. He could have been hurt or killed if the would-be thief had done something crazy, or he could have hurt the fellow. I certainly don't know what would have happened, and niether can he, or any of us really. I think he was just trying to tell his story about a situation that happened and how he handled it. I really didn't read into it anything other than his experience in this situation and how he feels that aikido came into play.

respectfully yours,

Rachel
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Old 08-11-2002, 05:37 PM   #17
IrimiTom
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Quote:
Mr. Organ, by deeming himself an authority on 'what's right', did nothing but strongarm a single individual into momentarily accepting his agenda.
Respectfully, I think you are exaggerating beyond belief. So standing in front of someone who is breaking the law is infringing that person's rights? Rights to what? Breaking the law? "His agenda"? Dave mentioned that the Criminal Code of Canada has a section on making citizens arrests.
Quote:
I'd rather pay higher prices for videotapes because of shoplifting than delude myself into thinking I belong in an authoritative role in some stranger's life over a ten dollar item *that is ultimately their choice to steal*.
Their choice, and the consequences mine to deal with? I'm sorry, but no. He lives in my society, I have a role in his life, and he has a role in mine. I know the issue we are talking about is shoplifting. What if it were some kind of major health care fraud, for example? Would you like to have to go without professional medical assistance because so many people screwed the system, that being "their choice"? I think your answer would be different.

I reject this notion of "freedom". Your freedom ends where mine begins. In my view, the freedom to bear arms, for example, means you are free to potentially take someone's greatest and most important aspect of freedom at any time: their life. Sure, you'll pay for it (maybe) but that doesn't fix it. The nice people at the NRA and others at gun lobbying use your same argument: Who are you or anyone else to tell me what's "right" or why I can't carry a concealed weapon in public? Every citizen has a civic responsibility to act on what he thinks is right, and yes, if everyone did impose what they think is right forcefully, we would probably be in chaos. But Dave didn't wrestle the guy to the ground, knock him out and take the tape from his hands. He made it obvious to him that what he was doing was wrong and the guy gave him the tape. That's different. That's definitely not "strongarming".

OK, I went a little off topic, but it was in order to demonstrate a point.

I believe Dave's response to the situation was exemplary, and I wholeheartedly applaud him.
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Old 08-11-2002, 06:57 PM   #18
Kevin Wilbanks
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As the incident happened, I do think it is an exaggeration to say it was a society-subverting act of vigilantism. However, if he had assaulted the shoplifter, it would have been just that: assault. I'm pretty sure the law wouldn't have made any exception for the fact that he was assuming a self-appointed law-enforcer role, given what was at stake.

I think whether physical intervention by a civilian bystander is warranted really boils down to some estimation of the harm being prevented, not some absolute principle.

The loss of a videotape to the establishment doesn't seem like enough harm to warrant any kind of violent intervention. There are other options besides doing nothing: taking a picture of him, hollering 'Hey, that guy's stealing a videotape!', calling the police, observing him accurately enough to give them a good description...

If the shoplifter were an armed robber or attempting arson, for instance, most would agree that a civilian brave enough to intervene is welcomed. In fact, in Florida, if a perp pulls a gun during the robbery of a public establishment, anyone present is free to harm or kill the robber with any kind of weapon, with no legal penalties.

I agree with Deb that deeming oneself justified in beating the crap out of anyone one sees doing anything wrong is worse than doing nothing. Perhaps some one has watched a few too many Segal movies? In fact, it reminds me of a Segal parody on MadTV, where Will Sasso (as Segal) confronts a lady at a diner for putting a couple of sugar packets into her purse, goes into a righteous speech about wrongdoers and the greatness of America, and ends up throwing her across the room and breaking her neck...
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Old 08-11-2002, 07:36 PM   #19
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Here's one for ya. I was in a bar a couple of years back. Minding my own business (I don't drink alcohol FYI).

I see this big 300 pound bouncer pushing the drunk guy toward the front of the crowded bar. The guy can barely stand up and is totally incorherent.

Instead of removing the guy from the bar the bouncer provokes the guy by pushing him hard then squares off in front of him giving the poor dumb bastard the ability to take a shot at him. From the body language of the bouncer I could tell that he wanted this guy to take a shot at him. That way he would be justified when he started pumelling him.

I see this and walk up to the guy, act like I am putting my arm around him, lock him up in a type of nikkyo lock and with him on his tiptoes escort him to the door. He resisted, and tried to get beligerent with me, put I clamped down hard on him and he saw things my way.

Getting him safely to the door, I let go of him and step back to see the bouncer standing there dumbfounded. I stand between the two and look at the bouncer, he turns around and walks back in.

About that time I see a police officer running toward the guy. The officer sticks out his arm and clotheslines the guy flat out on the ground! Then locks him up in handcuffs and hauls him away.

Totally unjustfied us of force if you ask me!

I got involved in this incident I guess because I felt like I could keep this guy from getting hurt by the bouncer. I was not angry and really felt like the use of my force was preventing a even worse situation from developing.

Over a videotape, that is a hard one....I guess it would depend on the situation. It is not fair to judge anothers actions if you were not there and in his shoes.

I probably would have simply reported the incident and let it go without confronting the individual... but who's to say!

I'm glad it worked out for you in this situation!

BTW, the whole reason I would never carry a handgun is that knowing my personality, it would make me braver than I should be and I would probably be more willing to confront people and get myself in deep doo doo!

I posted a topic of discussion under Spirituality that talks about righteousness and peace....seems kinda relevant to where this discussion is going!

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Old 08-11-2002, 08:37 PM   #20
aikido_fudoshin
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Sorry Deb, I was not trying to promote vigilantism. I simply stated we should be more willing to confront the problem. Why not ask the guy what hes doing and find out more about the situation. Is this a violent method of attending to a problem? Sure it could bring you into harms way, but not likely.

I would hope that taking something that doesnt belong to you could be defined as "wrong". If criminals knew no one would do anything to prevent them from stealing, it would happen much more frequently. This would not only result in inflated prices but it would cause many shop keepers or store owners who cant afford hightened security to go out of buisness thus effecting their livelyhood and that of their families. What about poorer countries that rely heavily on certain items to be sold so they can buy food that day for their families? This is why I feel stealing is wrong, why it should be confronted, and why the democracy we live in and most others consider it a criminal offence.

Deb Fisher wrote:

"... our democracy would devolve into a dictatorship ruled by the strongest and most popular views of "what's right""

Doesnt a democracy rely on the majority vote? Is it not true that our representatives are suppose to make laws to keep the society we live in fair? Do they not represent the needs of the people? Did the majority not decide that stealing is counterproductive and nonbeneficial? Does the bible not state "though shall not steal"?

My argument was not about taking the law into your own hands, but about standing up for what is right, or what society has deemed to be right. It is also about not being afraid or unwilling to directly address an issue that is clearly "wrong" through knowledge. I understand its hard to define right and wrong but we have to look deeper into how simple things effect others lives and how you would feel if it were happening to you. I think this is what we are aware of when we are forced to make decisions that come from our soul.
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Old 08-12-2002, 04:03 AM   #21
mike lee
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Cool know the difference

There's a difference between rightousness and self-rightousness.

The things I questioned in the shop-lifting incident weren't the actual incident, but the attitude in which it was carried out and if the aikidoist had the presence of mind to re-evaluate the incident afterwards to reconsider the wisdom or lack of wisdom in his actions, along with other possible courses of action.

I've been involved in a number of late-night altercations. Many times drinking was involved. Things generally turned out okay, but sometimes I would wake up the next day and think, "Damn! I sure was lucky to get out of that one okay!" I then visualized the entire situation all over again, and considered other possible courses of action I could have taken. Usually, it all boiled down to two: Don't drink so damn much and don't stay out too late.
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