Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Arrogance is the first refuge of the incompetent

By Nancy Jane Moore

At a recent Aikido seminar, my teacher, Mitsugi Saotome, pointed out that the country where an idea developed tends to take the arrogant attitude that only its residents truly understand the concept.

He was speaking of Aikido and Japan -- I should note that he is from Japan, though now a U.S. citizen -- and pointing out that although Aikido was created by the Japanese genius Morihei Ueshiba, excellent Aikido teachers are now running schools in the U.S. and other countries. You don't have to train in Japan to become a master of Aikido.

The same analysis can be applied to the U.S. and our concept of democracy. We are arrogant in our promotion of democracy throughout the world, as if we are the only people who truly understand the concept.

And given that we have allowed the Bush administration to undermine some of the very foundations of our democracy, it is questionable whether we even understand our own ideas, much less have any ability to transmit them to others.

Isaac Asimov had a character in the first book of his Foundation series who often observed, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

I suspect arrogance is the first one.


Anonymous said...

If Professor Asimov was correct, and violence really is the last refuge of the incompetent, and Ms. Moore is correct in her suspicion that arrogance is their first refuge, where along the continuum of refuges of the incompetent does repetition fall?
Just asking, y'know?

Nancy Jane Moore said...

I leave it to your imagination.