Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wink on Jesus and Nonviolence And Aikido

There is always someone bigger, stronger and faster than you.  You can try to punch it out with your superior, and hope to win, but it is unlikely.

On the other hand, you can go right at your opponent who is superior and invite a strike by crossing through the strike zone before there is a connection (or draw back beyond the strike zone, and then move in).  Either way, where your opponent had a 100% concentration of power and skill directed to your injury, you are now shoulder to shoulder with your opponent.

At this point you opponent is now down to about 50% of his capability, and you are up some given advantage since you are so close.  Who knows what is next, but the job of a martial artist is to engage immediately.  But at this point, you are shoulder to shoulder facing the same way, your opponent no longer has the initiative, and you have demonstrated you are not afraid.  The world is completely different for your opponent from just three seconds ago.  You are no longer targeted victim, you are a survivor of an attack, and you have the authority to make a creative response.

In another post I said:

It's that turn the other cheek thing, with what I suspect was it's original form, a sense of "game on."

There seems to be a natural affinity between the teachings of Jesus and aikido as a martial art, at least as exegeticized by Walter Wink.  Indeed, at one point in his book Jesus and Nonviolence, A Third Way he makes passing reference to dealing with force as in aikido.

Wink gets to three examples Jesus gives on dealing with unjust force.

1. Turn the other cheek.  Apparently the example is so specific (if struck on the right cheek) to be clearly an example of a slap a master may give a slave or other inferior in which responding may very well get you killed.  To offer other cheek, is to invite the superior to slap you as they would fight an equal (and be profoundly punished if they so disturbed the peace by hitting an equal.)  In response to being slapped, you merely present yourself as equal.  As Wink notes, you may get flogged for that, but the point is made.  It may also get you no longer slapped as in the true meaning of meek, power under control can be unnerving for masters.  The alternative, to cower under a masters slap, changes nothing, indeed reinforces the evil.  To turn the other cheek destabilizes the evil, and who knows what is next?

2. Go the extra mile.  Roman soldiers were allowed to impress passers by into service to carry their loads, but as this was a rather unpopular event, they were strictly forbidden to make anyone carry a load more than a mile.  It was humiliating aside from being unpleasant, and rather reinforced servitude of all Rome had conquered.  So extend the trip voluntarily?  Yes!  How destabilizing.  Walk the first mile quiet as an involuntary servant, and then when that is over, offer to carry the load as a friend.  The soldier at once would be astonished, then fearful that you were setting him up for punishment, the tables are reversed, he is at a disadvantage.  He very well may want your offered help, but must be careful not be seen breaking the rules.  In any event, the evil is destabilized, and who knows what is next?

3. Give up your cloak when being sued.  This had to do with the injustice of taking pledges on loans, and having to pledge your clothes (talk about down and out!) and being shown no mercy by your benefactor.  A loan is a charitable event in monotheistic ethics, but even the just rules can be abused.  So when your benefactor is squeezing you for your coat, you give up your clothes too.  What happens is the "benefactor" is exposed for his hardness, and you are making the rather sober decision to admit being at rock bottom which is a good place from which to rebuild.  In any event, the evil is destabilized, and who knows what is next?

The only effective power in the world is moral authority.  There are plenty of other kinds of power, but none of it effective.  There is Roman power.  There is authority, as in author, in which the situation you have created allows you to write what is next.  Aikido as a martial art is like that, you position yourself as an equal, not subject to their power, and you are then able to write what happens next, like an author, and authority.  You earned it.

Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way (Facets)

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