Training In the Shadow of Science

Because of the advances in science and technology more people are able to be more ignorant about more things now than at any time in history. This is a stunning achievement. 

It is not because of science, which, like guns or butter, has no agency of its own. It is because of what people have done with science.

If you are like most people, you do not know how to make a phone or a computer. You do not know how to fix a car, build a house, or grow your food. These are for specialists. This advanced degree of helplessness is new. People who cannot take care of themselves cannot be trusted to take care of anything. This has happened again and again.

Because of abundance and poverty many people cannot read or write or think. They cannot work well, or take care of a family. They cannot keep themselves healthy or composed. They didn’t learn to do these things. It was not necessary or not possible. Naturally they are angry and resentful. 

Because of abundance and poverty many people live lavish lives for which they did not work. Naturally they become arrogant and are constantly in need of validation.

We are all subject to these difficulties. If we accept help from dubious sources, we will become dependent on them. Then we give up the direction of our own lives. 

As a consequence, we will be inclined to replace the ideals of loving your neighbor as yourself, or vowing to save all beings, with rubbing raw the wounds of grievance. The former requiring education and training; the latter, not.

What do we do, living at a time like this? This, after all, is a time of tectonic change. We will not halt it by voting, blogging, assaulting or feeling. These will have no more effect than jamming a pry bar into the San Andreas Fault and pulling. You will get tired. The plates will keep moving. The big one will remain undeterred.

There is another a fault line, running through our own hearts. There we can apply pressure to good effect: To note the general frenzy, and not yield to it. To educate ourselves in the difference between right and wrong. To train ourselves in virtue. To set an example of restraint and determination in what we say and do.

How is that to be done when the world seems drunk and disoriented? Withdraw? Engage? Blaze a new trail?

It will not be clear at the outset just where a new trail will lead; not in this life. But we can be confident in our ultimate destination. We will rely on our compass and be confident in our skills. Our compass being virtue, our skills meaning doing what we can for ourselves, our families and our neighbors. With these, we can proceed. 

We may not escape the general difficulties. But we can be prepared to meet them well. This bears directly on our dojo training. 


Post and photo copyright © 2023 by Jeffrey Brooks, Mountain Karate Dojo, LLC

Related post: True Karate Dō


  1. Jeff Moriber says:

    Dear Sensei Brooks,

    Bravo! It was wonderful to read your “Training in the Shadow of Science” post. Your first line was brilliant and oh-so-true.

    I’ve missed your voice of late and was very happy to get to read your always prescient thoughts.


    Jeff Moriber

  2. Daniel Beck says:

    So very, very true. Thank you. danny

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