Saturday, September 03, 2005

Honor and Warriors

The Budoshoshinshu says that the three qualities a warrior must possess are integrity, loyalty and courage.

My interpretation: Integrity, because if a man's beliefs, words and actions contradict, if he says one thing and does another, he is at best worthless and at worst, evil. Simply, integrity limits your value as a human being. You can only be as good, as human or as honorable as you are true.

Loyalty, because there must be something more important to you than your own life. If you are the most important thing in your life, you will harm others to further your self-interest. A skilled warrior who serves only himself causes harm to many and must be put down like a rabid dog.

Courage, because it is the job of a warrior to walk into the places where no one else wishes to go and make them better.

All human beings need the elements of Integrity and Loyalty to be worthwhile, but only the warrior requires courage, and only the warrior is defined as facing danger.

A note on this- Warrior is a loaded word and people jump on it as a crutch for their self image. I use it here because the translation I use used the word. It is nothing noble or heroic or special- it is a small group of people who have chosen to face conflict as a job. If someone defines or seeks to define themselves as a 'warrior' they need to get over themselves.

Honor, then, is acting in accordance with the three virtues. Any act of honor will have all three of these elements- it will be true (this does not eliminate the ruse de guerre), it will be done for the betterment of someone or something other than the person who acts and it will be risky.

'Face' is reputation. When a person acts because it must, by his moral code, be done, he acts from honor. When he acts from fear of what people will think of him, he acts to save or increase face.

Fighting fair- consideration of honor in conflict come in before the conflict. The question of honor is decided in what I will fight for. Once conflict begins, the goal is to subdue or destroy. When the need rises to the level and there are no other options (or at least no time to find them) and that goal is set, either to subdue or destroy, the battle is on.

Two quotes to think about:

"No matter whether a person belongs to the upper ranks or the lower, if he has not put his life on the line at least once he has cause for shame." -Nabeshima Naoshige

"The foundation of a man's duty as a man is in truth. Beyond this there is nothing to be said." --Torii Mototada

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