|Peace & Serenity|
I recently listened a group discussion that vilified "the militarism of society", which I took to mean the military, it's culture, and other supporting cast members that surround it. I listened thoughtfully to the words and ideas that flowed from the participants, careful not to interject my own experiences of uniformed service so as not to damper or influence the conversation in any way. The prevailing tone was that of liberation theology, the political theory which interprets traditional religious teachings in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. This is to say that the participants were highly critical of government, capitalism, corporate culture, popular news media, or pretty much anything that could be widely interpreted as adding to the disenfranchisement of the poor and suffering.
After the talk closed I spent a day considering what I had listened to and arrived at the conclusion that the participants lacked any real, direct experience with the military, and were simply regurgitating thoughts and ideas that they had absorbed from others who had little or no direct contact either. I feel that in many ways I should have spoken up, that I had betrayed my own experiences through my inactions.
The obvious rebuttal is the the story of Yagyu Munenori's life-giving sword. Yagyu was a widely renowned sword instructor to two Tokugawa shoguns during their reign over midevel Japan. His spiritual mentor was the Zen Buddhist priest, Takuan who assisted Yagu in the realization that a sword can both take a life as well as give one. The life-giving sword is the idea that it is best to control an opponent by the spiritual readiness to fight rather than during an actual fight where lives will be lost. From this idea grew the saying that we utilize today, "If you have to fight, you have already lost".