The Art of Reconciliation

There is a period in Japanese history known as the Meiji Era, which extended from 1868 to 1912. This period in time is unique to Japan because it represents the first half of the Japan Empire in which the Japanese began to move from being an isolated society to its now modern age. The deeply rooted fundamentals of the nation began to shift, including politics, economy, to social values and foreign relations. Through the midst, Japan aimed to keep its devotion and allegiance to Buddhism, in which the ultimate spiritual goal was to attain Nirvana; a state in which there is neither suffering nor desire.

Japan was in the midst of the turning of a New World, moving from an isolated society, concerned with its own affairs, culture and way of doing things – towards embracing the rest of the New World. During this critical era, there was a deepening desire for preserving these ancient engraved practices of life. Practices described as an interpersonal quest for satisfaction and personal happiness with one’s life. The nation would soon merge with the rest of the world, and with that would come unfamiliarity, uncertainty and unrest. The intent was to keep the nation at a preeminent position. To both preserve the value of the nation, and restructure it for progression into the future.

In the midst of this transition, on December 14, 1883, a man named Morihei Ueshiba was born. Raised within a culture of this deepening search of preservation and protection and influenced by the martial arts of Daito-Ryu at the time, Morihei Ueshiba founded Aikido; A new form of martial arts with a newly profound intentional practice. Aikido is the art of reconciliation. It was a synthesis of his martial arts studies and philosophy of life.

Aikido translates to way of unifying with life energy. His goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from sustaining an injury. With an alternative focus, he believed that in your attempt to dominate others, you have already defeated yourself. Believing that whomever has a heart to fight has broken their connection to the universe. Morihei Ueshiba developed Aikido as a way of responding to a world, with both protection and peace.

Narottam L. Bhindi and Patrick A. Duignan, world-leading researchers in the field of Authenticity and Authentic Leadership describe the practice of Authenticity as an act of “fully-functioning,” bringing satisfaction, and leading from a place of personal conviction. They describe it as a process of intentionality and consciousness of significant values that takes its energy and direction from the good intentions of community members who put their intellects, hearts and souls into shaping a vision for the future.*

This reflects Aristotle’s deepening beliefs on Authenticity. He believed that it was a view of ethics that focused on one’s pursuit of the higher-good, achieved through self-realization when the activity of the soul is aligned with virtue to produce a complete life.

The world will not immediately join you, or may never join you at all. However, you always have a choice. Regardless of how this world responds. We often find ourselves only giving peace and compassion, in return, to those who have first given it to us. But the true power of humility lies in extending love and compassion to those that aim to harm others. Humility is a delicate skill, requiring a deepening conviction to your values and beliefs as you battle the continual enticement of losing focus and control.

Authenticity, through the course of human history, is continuously described as a deepening quest of understanding your convictions, ethics and morals so that you may use your life – fully, intentionally, and passionately in service to the world.

*Duignan, P.A. Bhindi, N. L. (1997). Authenticity in Leadership. Journal of Educational Administration, 35 (3), 195-210.

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