A World Of Opportunity

Simply because you agree with something does not mean it is right.

One of the great tragedies of our modern age is the ease with which we are able to find others, often masses of perfect strangers, who agree with us when we are wrong.

In the past, humans were confined by geography and technology to a small group of close-knit friends, family, and community members with whom we either shared beliefs or were labeled as rebels, troublemakers, or heretics.

Diversity of thought, belief, and behavior was seen as a threat to the solidarity of the group and, in extreme cases, being perceived as an outlier would result in being cast out of the community or worse.

Modern travel and technology has allowed us to see a whole world of people, beliefs, and customs quite different from our own. It has given us direct or indirect access to a seemingly limitless pool of information, ideas, and data.

Some of us use this access as a means of educating ourselves, expanding our horizons, and broadening our lives to be more open, inclusive, and compassionate with regards to others’ perspectives, beliefs, and cultures.

Many more of us, it seems, have used technology as a means of self-hypnosis by way of confirmation bias. We actively seek out, or are sought out by, others with whom we agree and through whom we reinforce our beliefs and shut ourselves off to the possibility of being wrong.

The greatest opportunity the world has ever seen for coming together, for seeing past our differences, and for uniting for the common good of all of humanity, has been squandered and weaponized for the sake of prejudice, conflict, and intellectual-emotional isolationism.

We can do better, but we must start with empathy toward those with whom we disagree.

Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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