We are not empty vessels that need to be filled by some external resource before we are able to help others.
Our capacity to help others is not extrinsic.
It does not come from what we attain, possess, or are given.
It is intrinsic.
It is part of who we are.
It is part of our nature as intelligent, emotional, communal creatures.
The young, sick, and elderly notwithstanding, none of us lives in a vacuum wherein we are able to get and have whatever we want or need without first giving of ourselves in some way.
Whether our efforts are physical, intellectual, or emotional, we have to first give in order to receive.
We have to contribute.
We have to invest.
We have to exchange effort for reward.
In no community, family, or household can we simply work on ourselves, gather for ourselves, and acquire for ourselves before ever doing anything for anyone else and still expect to be accepted, appreciated, and rewarded as a part of the group.
We cannot put everyone and everything around us on hold while we fill our proverbial cup first with the promise of sharing later.
The cup is not ours, alone.
It never was.
The cup is a shared vessel and the responsibility of filling it is a shared burden.
Humanity is not a zero sum game.
It is a communal struggle, a communal journey, and a communal experience of abundance and loss.
This is why, whether manifested as the freeloader or the miser, selfishness is so intolerable and abhorrent.
We are hardwired for fairness, justice, and equity.
These are the result of shared effort and shared reward, not self care.
As long as we are not ill, injured, or otherwise incapable, we all have something to give.
We are all in this together whether we act like it or not.
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 Kogen Dojo Self Defense Academy where he teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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