Monday, September 2, 2013

Death of Osama Bin Laden, an aikido perspective

Originally published on in 2011

The Death of Osama Bin Laden, an Aikido perspective

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m going to start in a different place first, so hold your thoughts for one second.  SEC football is near religious in parts of the American South.  I went to the University of Florida, so I’ve seen the fervor first hand.  Each team has its rival.  Florida’s biggest SEC rivals were always Tennessee and Georgia.  Alabama and Auburn have been rivals for over 100 years.  But notice the word: rivalry.  Not enemy.  A rival is someone you enjoy competition against, not want to beat up.  The reason rivalries start is because of even competition.  Florida beats Georgia, Georgia beats Tennessee, and then Tennessee beats Florida.  They work as great mirrors for the teams.  You get a real test of yourself, when you compete against somebody as good as or better than yourself.  But like many things, these ideas get taken too far.  I know people that say, “I HATE Tennessee.”  But, what they really mean is that they hate losing to Tennessee.  Many people lose the distinction.
Damage from Tuskaloosa tornadoes
Mr. Harvey Updyke Jr. is one of those people. In February earlier this year he  poisoned the two 130 year old oak trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, Ala with Spike 80DF, an herbicide also known as Tebuthiuron.  He did it because he was a fan of the University of Alabama.  He killed two living things because of a rivalry, and then bragged about it as “Al from Dadeville” on the Paul Finebaum radio show.  In retaliation, Updyke recently was attacked at a gas station by Auburn fans who recognized him as “Al the poisoner.”  This assault on Updyke was not the right response to Updyke’s fanaticism.  The right response followed later that week after tornadoes went through Tuskaloosa Alabama, home to the Univerity of Alabama.   One of the first organizations to get there, and give meaningful help, was the Auburn University Alumni Association.  Because they were individuals, and not a bureaucracy, they had no hindrances on how or who to help and offer supplies.  They simply gave everything they had to whoever they saw that needed them.  This is the appropriate response to Updyke’s fanaticism, to his hatred.  After all, it is hard to hate someone, when they are giving you life saving aid after you’ve lost everything.  Now, I fully expect this season’s Auburn-Alabama game to be vigorous and very competitive, but I think there will be more smiles on the field at the end of the game, regardless who wins. There will certainly be no more poisonings, unless it’s food poisoning because who really checks the expiration dates on those stadium hot dogs. I mean really.
This applies also to our more recent news as well.  Osama Bin Laden was killed by US soldiers; men who acted in America’s name.  I watched as people celebrated in the street.  I watched as people questioned why he was buried at sea.   I watched as people demanded to see the pictures of Bin Laden’s assassinated body for themselves. I watched and actually felt sad.  As a martial artist I understand the idea of the Life Giving Sword; cutting out cancer to help the body survive.  I agree, as a symbol, his life needed to be removed, mostly because his mind was set on a hateful path and he would never be able to change his views.  He was irredeemable.  But what was disturbing was our celebrations.  They were breeding more hate.  What I don’t think people realize is that Osama already won.  He has already succeeded in his goals.  By attacking the US he wanted us to attack other countries.  Attacking these other countries creates resentment for the US that fuels his cause.  He lured us into a hate war, and as a country we dove in with headfirst, heedless of what was ahead.  As a country that preaches peace we should follow (and as a Gator I can’t believe I’m saying this) Auburn’s example.  When your enemy is hungry, feed him.  It’s hard to complain too much when you’re chewing.

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