Thoughts on Attitude: Changing the World

Didn’t post for quite a while now. Didn’t really have a chance, as my academic program is in crush-mode at the moment. That’s just crazy. Also, I frankly wasn’t motivated after those European Championships. Now, though, it’s back to business, both when it comes to training as well as blogging. Lots of work to do in respect to both regards…

Today’s topic isn’t exactly martial arts related at the first glance, but bear with me and I promise I’ll make the transition into our world…

You see, yesterday was my girl’s birthday. Well, not really, that’s when we partied. You know, it’s not easy to party on weekdays, as everybody needs to get out of bed early the next day… Not that it had mattered, in our particular case. Birthday’s are about getting old and now that we’re both too old to hit the clubs and party all night (never particularly liked that, anyways), we just celebrated at a neat little café here in Vienna. Just hanging around with friends, making conversation and the like. As usually, most of that conversation wasn’t all that thought- or meaningfull. After all, this was about having a good time, not solving all of mankind’s problems. That’s the politicians job, even if they sometimes seem to confuse soling problems with creating them…

I digress. As the evening got later, conversation got deeper, more profound and to the point. Since my girl was a teacher and is now working as an educator at an after-school care club, there were some people from that industry (can you actually call an educative system an industry? Doesn’t matter, you get the meaning….) present as well. So, it wasn’t all too long before we started discussing the topic of our school system. Somewhere along the line of the conversation, someone said something like „doesn’t matter, you can’t change the world anyway, so why bother?“. That’s where that person was wrong and also where I’ll actually start this post…

Let’s first define the „world“. A quick google query gives the following:

world/wərld/

Noun:
  1. The earth, together with all of its countries, peoples, and natural features.
  2. All of the people, societies, and institutions on the earth.

Great, now we have a base to deduct from. Now the next step is fairly trivial: if earth is all of the people, societies and institutions on earth, than every person, society and institution is part of the world. Again, if this is true, than changing just one such person, society or institution will inherently change the world as a whole. Since every person can change in more than one regard (just consider adolescence, that’s a rather dramatic change), the statement that one person can’t change the world is hereby proven wrong. It seems like in the end, going to university and practicing logical thinking pays off after all…

We’re not done yet, though. Let’s ponder that thought for a moment. First, we substitute „world“ for „universe“ and „universe“ for „the whole“, because that avoids loss of generality. If everything is part of the whole, then changing even the smallest thing yields a change in the whole. Neat. So everyone can change the whole. Matter of fact, we do so without cease. Every little action changes something and therfore changes everything (or, the whole, if you wish). Every people knew that at some point – the [I-Ging] and [Heraclitus philosophy], for example, stated that everything is constantly changing. The only constant is change itself.

Since we’re constatly changing the whole (world) anyway, we need to carefully pay heed to the direction our actions are taking. Obviously, not everyone has the will or ability to change the whole on a large scale. Still, the sum of all small changes does make a difference. That’s also the basic idea behind democracy, which – regardless of all it’s inherent flaws – is the only working system we know so far. Every step we take, i.e. every change we make, will alter the world (whole), either making it  warmer, more just and safe, or pushing it towards a cold, unjust and dangerous place.

Finally, I’ll actually translate this into the martial arts, into our domain. As martial artists, we’re given the tools and physical prowess to hurt other people. We a taught and trained to dominate, both physically and mentally. In feudal Japan, the warrior cast was put above everyone else. To this day, nations keep their people in check by the use of armed forces (army, police,… not necessarily warriors in the true sense of the world, at least not all of them, but still capable of dominating others). So, it is in our hands to change more than most could. Don’t get me wrong on this one – I’m not advocating the use of force as a means of bending others to your will. Not at all, quite the contrary – to qoute the movie Spiderman: „With great power comes great responsibility“. It’s imperative for us to heed that responsibility. Let me explain:

  • First off, we need to carefully consider our own actions so as not to give in to the temptation of hurting others for our personal benefit. 
  • Second, it is important to instill high moralic values to our peer martial artists and students. Obviously, this mostly applies to instructors and teachers, but also to advanced students. Live up as an example for others, be a shining beacon for those who are just starting their journey into the realm of the martial arts. Ok, that was weird, but I guess you know what I try to express.
  • Third, we need to empower people. Sometimes, this might mean that as martial artists, we stand up, show some bloody courage and actually protect those around us. Once they’re out of danger, help them protect themselves. This is not ony meant in a physical way – the martial arts offer a ton of stress- and fear-management techniques that everyone can benefit from. Share your knowledge, but don’t try to force people to accept it. For some, the martial arts are just not a valid way. Let them find theirs.
Now maybe all of this is pointless rambing. I don’t know, it’s a line of thought I’ve been following for quite some time, but only yesterday evening did it actually start to make any sense. Still not sure if it actually doesn, though… What’s your take on the topic? Looking forward to reading your comments…
So long,
take care

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