Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ethics and Fatherhood

Normally I would not use my martial arts blog to pontificate on my view of ethics, but on second thought, why would I not? The study of the martial path is really heavily layered in issues of honor, respect, morality and ethics. Budo, the martial way, is really the study of conflict and resolution and how to maintain harmony through our behavior and actions. In budo shouldn't we discuss the ideal roles we should play in life and follow the good examples of the wise people around us?

I came to learn yesterday that an casual acquaintance of mine has fathered a child. From what I have heard he has had nothing to do with the child since birth, and has not even taken the time to see the young one. I guess I had not really thought deeply on this topic before, as I have not been in proximity to this kind of behavior. I find today strong thoughts and feelings keep bubbling up about this.

What kind of human would casually dismiss a lover and not see an infant he sired? What sort of person would simply turn their back and ignore people like that?

The greatest person I know and love, was similarly dismissed by her father before her birth. We were just discussing it. She has never had the urge to go find him or see what he is like. I understand. What kind of person would abandon a lover expecting a child? What kind of person would dismiss the needs of an infant they are responsible for? Why would you want to meet a person like that, who deep down is so selfish the world is only about themselves? Why would you want to meet your first betrayer who refused to acknowledge your very existence?

So I draw a line. If a man could do that to a woman he shares a bed with and a helpless infant, what would a man do to a mere friend of casual acquaintance? If a man is willing to commit such an ethical crime to his lover and child, what vile act would he do to someone he doesn't know, or to someone he doesn't like?

So this goes to any man or woman that would abandon a child. If you are so selfish to an infant who needs help, I have to see you as a threat to my personal well being and the lives of the people I love. I want nothing to do with you.

In the martial arts we call this establishing maai - distance. Keep people at the appropriate distance so you can see them coming and have time to react. My maai, or distance, for the people unburdened by ethics is a wide wide circle. If you are the sort to dismiss responsibility for a child, please stay the hell out of my maai. I don't care about your story, your opinions or your beliefs while there is a child to be taken care of. Get your priorities straight.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (Deleted the last post cause I started it with "Dude..." I think the preferred honorific is more appropriate)

    Sensei... I get a sense of pain from your words. I can feel your desire to stand up for this little child through your writing here, and perhaps other similar defenseless human beings. I feel the nobility of this goal!

    My desire is to remind you of compassion. Pain will not transform pain. Look inside yourself for the roots of this charge, and start the transformation there. Be well, fellow warrior.

  3. No need to call me Sensei. That is all a word game. Dude works, but I appreciate the sentiment.

    Thanks for the contribution of thoughts. Actually I got up late tonight stewing over this and checked my blog. Pain is not the right word. Frustration over apathy? Seeing people I thought were cool act with thought of consequence. I don't know, I have gotten to the age where I expect some minimal standards of the people I keep around me. I am a small man with a small sphere of influence. If you are in that sphere I expect decency or I expect you to get out. I don't know man, its a kid. Children are thunderbolts of responsibility. The single moms of the world are the unsung heroes: Saints, if you will.

  4. I completely understand where you are coming from. I think disappointment is another good word to express the emotions you are dealing with.

    Having been in a similar situation many years ago, disappointment in this individual was at the root of my anger. I will share the particulars over a beer next time we meet if you want.

  5. I love that you've picked your friends wisely, so you don't encounter things like this regularly.

    I don't think I have been as wise (maybe my job, maybe my life, who knows). Just yesterday, I had to real-life un-friend someone I thought was awesome because she was saying things along the same lines...

    I had the same thoughts - if she would do this to someone she vowed to [whatever] and [raised kids, etc. you fill in the blanks], then she would certainly do worse to me and she's an "other-sider" (yeah I don't care much about grammar, and this is the best way to describe some people... they're just... on the other side of what's right I guess. I've stopped trying to understand.)

    The cruelty of seemingly great people continues to shock me.

    I was adopted by folks who wanted me, so I guess I'm one of the lucky ones, along with all the children raised by single parents - because I'm convinced that single moms and dads (who actively choose to raise their children) are the strongest force on Earth.

    I just had to comment because your post inspired me.

    And this is Dianna, too lazy to create an account, sigh :)

  6. I love this blog post and I admire you greatly for writing it. I love the concept of establishing maai, which is something I practice a lot lately, without having a concrete phrase for it. Not only do too many men take this route of non-fatherhood/parenthood, but too many other men overlook it without challenging their fellow man's sense of decency and responsibility. I'm so glad you've stepped up as a man and said to other men, "This is NOT okay."

  7. I like that phrase you used, thunderbolts of responsibility. This issue brings up a sense of curiosity for me... when we see something we don't like in the world, what can we do about it? When we have an honest reaction to a situation, what is the best way to proceed?

    I have one question about this guy... Have you talked with him about your thoughts on what he's doing?

  8. I think I mentioned he was a casual acquaintance.

    He will hear me thoughts, direct and honest on our next meeting.

    As to seeing something in the world "what do we do?", question you had. I think I am in a phase where I let people know it is not ok. I won't hide my feelings about it. Somehow this guy feels it is an option not to help or care.

  9. This is not going to come out perfectly, but it's where I'm at right now... I bow to you for standing up for what you believe in! The world invites us to be unfolding ourselves to it.


  10. Also... as full a disclosure as I can muster right now:

    I'm really fascinated by the story we're involved in right now. I notice I'm getting really caught up in it!

    I was hurt once, very deeply, by a man who ceased to see me as a human being and viewed me as an object to be dealt with. As I did my practice briefly after writing that last post, I realized this is where a lot of my commentary has flowed from. I stand behind you in sharing your love with the world, but I cringe when I think of the possible consequences of doing this in a way that sees only the wrongness your are perceiving and not the human being under this. I believe you have a good heart.

    In addition, I realize I am really inserting myself into your blog here. Kinda just tossing it all in there... :) I don't really know you all that well, and I'm starting to feel like I'm kind of out of line here... but again, this is all part of my story of how the world should be and how I fit into it.

    I admire you as a martial artist. You seem to really be committed to testing and being curious and throwing yourself into your practice.

    Feeling a little awkward, so that's it for now.

  11. I invite your input. No one every responds here. I prefer it when the blog becomes a internet dojo, or a place of exploration. Please share. I usually feel like I am blogging into a black hole.