Authenticity is not an excuse to behave badly.
None of us gets to walk around doing or saying whatever we want to without consequences. Ideally, this is a lesson we learn as children, but most of us need to be reminded from time to time as we get older. In fact, one of the many important roles that our friends and family play in our lives is to keep us accountable for our words and behavior when our so-called authenticity is overriding our sensibility.
It is not that authenticity is unimportant. On the contrary, a well-lived life demands that we are authentic both to ourselves and to others. However, authenticity is not a shield we can hide behind as a means of blocking incoming criticism when what we do or say is selfish, hurtful, or destructive.
True authenticity is not used as a means of excusing ourselves from caring about what others think. Instead, authenticity, in the positive sense, is synonymous with consistency of words and deeds in our private, public, and business lives. We will get very different results if we are authentically abrasive, confrontational, or mean-spirited than we will if we are authentically present, compassionate, and generous.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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