Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Game and The Art Part 1 (continued)

Part 1 is first in a series of Ronin Post articles dedicated to The Samurai Game® and to the man, George Leonard, who created it; and to Aikido, the martial art that directly influenced his later years.

Uriel Trujillo and his East Stroudsburg University UPWARD BOUND students were the immediate inspiration for these articles. On July16, 2012 we were vistited by two television news crews there to capture what we were up to. To view what was aired that evening in eastern Pennsylvania on regional and local TV hit these links and ENJOY!

Regional Channel 69 news- View Video Here 

Local Channel 28 news- View Video Here 

A quote from Mary Oliver  
In 1977 George Leonard invented the Samurai Game®. How he did that will be addressed later. For now what's important is that he ended his first delivery with a powerful and timeless social/psychological inquiry: Why do human beings continue to engage in and practice war as a means to resolving conflict? Given we know that for as far back as we can look into history war (the most intense form of conflict on our planet) always results in massive destruction, complete ruination of economies, severe emotional and psychological damage to generation upon generation - why do human beings keep practicing it again and again and again?   We're smart, aren't we? We know for a fact what war always results in. People all over the earth proclaim themselves to be peace lovers. So why do we, the most intelligent species on this planet, keep doing this?

--- continuing from August 2012 issue of The Ronin Post ---

George Leonard was a combatant in two major wars. He well understood the need for nations and peoples to protect themselves. Throughout the nineteen years that we knew each other, including at our last meetings in late 2009 just prior to his death, the dilemma of war occupied the foreground of our thought and discussions: What is needed such that individuals and countries can stand strong, yet be willing and able to deeply listen to others no matter who they are such that harmony can prevail? What fosters understanding? Can new paths be taken for combined peaceful futures?

Part of his answer is found in something he wrote a short one page piece "Toward A More Vivid Peace". [request copy via email here] George knew war from the inside: its sights, smells, sounds, energy and taste. He was shaped by experience to look for better ways and to encourage others to actively do likewise.This fueled his notion to create a Game wherein the players would take on the role of samurai, engage in an intense competition through which they might uncover the seeds of peace - yet all the while knowing that samurai were considered to be some history's fiercest warrior examples.

A provocative undertaking. But why? His reasons were (and remain) at a minimum three:
* to beg the above big questions,
* to confront individuals and groups with their personal and individual habits that foster fighting when a different practice could create solution and/or resolution, and
* to promote strong peaceful long-term practices for healthy living.
By considering the above ourselves we can all begin to delve into our own exploration of the WHY of The Samurai Game®.

For some war is an abstract - men and women of sinew racing through jungles or across deserts or down snowy slopes. It becomes the stuff of TV or talk show radio, or ball game and bar room blathering. It's found on big screen and in Netflix cinema. Whether romantic, grotesque, promoting bravado and idealism (e.g. Act of Valor), or illuminating the deep costs and trauma of combat (e.g. Restrepo and The Hurt Locker and Joyeux Noel) - we dig into our wallets to watch and in some interesting way, be entertained. But shrink war down a bit from its global or regional arenas to its smaller neighborhood and household areas of operation and it becomes something personal, more real for those of us who have never stepped into a combat zone.

The smaller wars: senseless bickering in boardrooms; sibling rivalries lasting well into adulthood; arguments over who is right and who is wrong based on skin color or ethnicity or religious affiliation (or non-affiliation) or family heritage; forced policies driven by antiquated perspectives that will not yield to sanity, meaning that the practitioner ought step back a bit to look and listen. These also are wars, aren't they? Wars that undermine mom and pop shops, market places, churches supposedly housing spiritual roots of the planet's varied religions. Wars of health care practitioners and insurance companies. Wars of lawyers and political parties scraping to control the economic turf and narrow thinking that goes along with the incessant need to acquire more and more - at all costs.

Yes, these too are wars. And as with their larger cousins they bring vibrant states and nations to their knees. Wars could be avoided if our daily living could anchor to the vividness of peace with the same intensity that it anchors to the juice of conflict. But this re-anchoring would take shifts of awareness and consciousness coupled with repeated acts of individual courage - thus forming new practices - and this could generate constructive living.

Today, in 2012, our nation's internal conflicts are front and center. We are engaged in a great national debate. It's good we debate; free speech is important. We are gearing up to an election.   This too is good; we can still freely elect. But our debate is not being conducted or held as ...

(to be continued in The Ronin Post, October 2012)

© Lance Giroux, 201

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