Shocked and sad, these are the two words that best describe my emotions as I sat over the weekend watching as communities around the nation were burned and destroyed. Businesses, many owned by families within the communities, were ransacked and the livelihoods of those already reeling from the economic devastation that the coronavirus brought were further demolished.
It occurred to me that our nation is at a breaking point. Frustration and anger, emotions that have been brewing under the surface, are now emerging front and center as a country that has been brought to it's knees begins to feel the pain of too many hurts, too much suffering, too much ruin. No one's pain can be dismissed, there is just too much of it at the moment for a nation already weakened.
So where does that leave us? Those of us who seek to help our community rebuild; how do we find a way to scratch the surface and make a difference when all seems too far gone? How can one person begin to make a difference on pain of such a large scale?
I believe it is exactly why a Sensei has never been more important. The calling of a sensei is to use martial arts to build up youngsters as they find their way. To encourage the positive self image and to foster the growth and emotional development of students of all ages so that they emerge from their training with a sense of purpose and belonging. Karate isn't only about the 'super athlete', that's the beauty of the martial arts. Within the foundations of karate are the mechanisms that have the power to reach deep within the psyche of a community and build the types of positive self concepts that will create a citizen that seeks to contribute, give, and love their neighbor.
So as we transition back to classes, I take my calling seriously and will do everything I can to find the student who lacks confidence, and help them build it. I will seek out those who feel as though they are 'outliers' and bring them in. I will never give up on creating situations that both challenge and encourage our youth to stand strong against a world that has become so broken.
This will take courage, and a commitment to do the hard work required in self-sacrifice. In putting others first, dedicated sensei must remain strong when they feel weak and remain hopeful when despair sets in; because courage is not the absence of fear-but the forward motion in the presence of it. When things seem at their darkest we as sensei need not find a light to shine, rather we must be a light that will guide others; and one by one we will foster and encourage individuals who will then go out into the community and encourage others.
There's work to be done, and those who answer the call to be a sensei must be ready. I for one am ready.