We live in times that are essentially the same as any other with the exception of the shrinking globe and immediate communications—the internet. Other than that, there is hardly anything different within any society. It is, therefore, essential that we come to understand each other and to respect the differences between cultures. It is a sad thing that our lack of mutual respect for one another is creating more and more dissension among us, and as a result, less and less civility is being taught to children except by those of awareness that are their elders—sometimes. For the most part, and it is very obvious, parents themselves do not have the information that is required to properly teach their children. This results is a diffident approach to relations with everyone, for the most part, by everyone. Politeness, i.e., “thank you,” “please,” “excuse me,” etc., have become notions that current society would have you think that the past seems to have used to prevent instant gratification and growth of individuals in the society at large. In many instances they are also thought of as signs of weakness. Paradoxically, the reverse is true, and to wield these words intelligently are signs of strength, which appropriately enough lead to higher understanding of power, which the martial arts are really about. In the samurai world, essentially the world of bushido, politeness must be an absolute requisite to maintain order within the various segments. It also denotes self-respect based on self-esteem. And, it works very well.
Forget about the psycho stories of certain fabulized samurai instantly dispatching someone who may have crossed their path inadvertently. Idiots prevail in any large group regardless of their self-ordained importance. Certainly, should someone offend you, you should deal with it, but you should not take it to a level of retribution unless life is an issue and not misunderstood macho bullshit. If you want respect, you give respect. You give; you get. You don’t take and then presume to offer your good graces as a gift to the recipient. Try saying “thank you,” “please,” and “excuse me,” among other things, and watch as your world becomes that much more easy to live in without a constant need for foolish behavior or the resultant paranoid need from constantly staying on your toes. Even when points of view differ, you will at least understand that everyone has their right to an opinion and not always one particular opinion is more right than another. Should someone give you a false answer, confront them, if it is that important to you, but maintain a sense of sobriety and do not cause a war to happen if an apology will suffice—even if it is your own. If you are going to practice the warrior life, then live the warrior life. Give someone a compliment—even if you mean it.
© SFKaufman 2011
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