Monday, June 20, 2011

The Samurai Sword as a Symbol of Peace

For most people the image of a Samurai sword doesn’t automatically evoke warm fuzzy feelings of peace and tranquility, but despite popular belief we can actually learn a great deal from the Samurai soldier. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a unique weapon in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” If we fight for peace with a sword that heals, tactical strength and discipline will enable us to cut through violence and injustice.

While making the Katana, or the Samurai sword, the master craftsman stays awake for three days and three nights to tend the furnace that produces a very unique type of steel called tamahagane. Once the tamahagane is produced it is covered with a precise mixture of clay and ash to avoid oxidation. Finally, the carbon undergoes a meticulous three month process of hammering and folding to drive out any impurities. In order to drive out the impurities of life, we must approach waging peace with the same persistence and concentration that the master craftsman applies to the Katana.
Ok, question for you. Let’s assume that the average person isn’t a master in the art of Kendo a.k.a “the way of the sword.” It's probably not a good idea to defend a population without the proper training, right? The same philosophy applies to peace activism because without learning how to properly use the sword of nonviolence, the outcome may do more harm than good. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi were both educated and well-read in areas like history, sociology, and philosophy. Studying these subjects armed them with the tools to unite people and bring about social change.
Since the 1960s the peace movement has often been associated with the "anything goes" hippie subculture. In order to change that stereotype we need to approach the road to nonviolence with professionalism and strategic thinking. By mastering the tactics of great peace leaders throughout history, we can arm ourselves with what Dr. King called, “the sword that heals.”


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