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March 15, 2013 / Dale Melchin

The Bushido Rectitude (義 gi) (Righteousness)

Concerning rectitude or righteousness, we are a very conflicted culture.  Talking about this subject in real time with people is almost equally hilarious especially if either disagreeing party has a strong attachment to their point of view and they get mad about being disagreed with.  Nearly every individual I have come into contact with has a very strong sense of right and wrong.  On a basic level, this is commendable, it means we are not completely damned as a society…yet.  Rectitude manifests itself in the following, rather fractured ways.

  1. Those who have more should be required to give to those who don’t
  2. Those who don’t have should be required to do more to get more.
  3. You are free to select your own morality, just don’t violate it or attempt to push it on others.
  4. Morality is objective and changeless and an ideal we should all strive too.
  5. Righteousness is completely subjective and you can take it or leave it.
  6. Conventional morality is an obstacle to be overcome.

I’m sure there are other points of view, but those are the ones that I am aware of.
Given the code and the nature of it.  Righteousness in this context is a function of the following items in combination.  Religion, cultural convention and what those in power believed was right.
The ancient Japanese were a religious people.  Without getting into all the ins and outs of their history, it is common knowledge that they adhered to Shintoism, and certain forms of Buddhism.  This collective point of view would be one of the things that informed the Bushido.  The existence of the code implies they held to point number for as explained above.

This implies that at some level, if we are going to be successful in adhering to the code or at least benefiting from it.  We have to admit that yes, there is an objective standard of right and wrong.  Regardless of how it is manifested.

Righteousness in terms of the Bushido means some very fundamental things.  Being fair to others, earning your keep, refraining from stealing, cheating, lying, and doing what you say you are going to do.  These are ideas that are basic and universal.
Above all, it does imply an objective standard, that if we are going to be good adherents to the code, we have to embrace the idea of universal truth.  Regardless of how it is manifested.


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