Why Aiki Peace Week?

Paul Hawken, according to Fortune “the original hippie entrepreneur," insists that the world is in the midst of the “largest social movement in all of history”, the scope of which “no one knows” and “how it functions is more mysterious than what meets the eye” (Blessed Unrest 2). The direction and scope of that movement is mysterious because of its complexity, its irreducibility to one agenda or solution despite the powerful forces which bid for unified control on a global scale. As long as there have been human beings, we have most often engaged mysterious complexities through the making of powerful stories, mythologies, far reaching narratives which combine the factual power of lived experience with the imaginative reach and psychological depth of fiction. The center of the “largest social movement" Hawken mentions is also a myth, that is to say a hard working idea with enough room for both clarity and mystery. What Joseph Campbell refered to as the "New Myth" has to do with global citizenship - the insistence that peace for everybody is possible, requires practice, and that this practice results in Community, in all the ways that word is used.

More than a million people around the world participate in Aikido, a martial practice known as "the art of peace" because its founder, Morihei Ueshiba, made very clear that the purpose of Aikido was not to "train to become powerful or to throw down some opponent. Rather we train in hopes of being of some use, however small our role may be, in the task of bringing peace to mankind around the world.” (Aikido and the New Warrior  - Strozzi-Heckler 28) This extension of aiki principles beyond the mat requires martial discipline so that the guardians of this ideal are not discouraged while cultivating the skills which make actual peace a reality when conflict is at its hottest and most disorienting. There is natural resistance to repeated labor when a clear end-point is not in sight but, as any martial artist knows, true preparation for real conflict involves innumerable small preparations over time to be ready in as many ways as possible for whatever comes in a moment. That is what Aiki Extensions and International Aiki Peace Week are about. Let's practice peace together.