Category: Essays

My relationship with the written word

Through my life, I have grown extremely fond of literature in general.

When I was a child, the first thing I ever aspired to be when grown was an author. I was quite the storyteller as a child, not meaning that I fabricated things and claimed them the truth; though I may have done so on occasion. If I wasn’t describing extrasolar worlds and civilisations to friends, I was writing stories on countless pages, some of which I still have to this day, and may one day edit and release onto the internet, if not just scan and post.

Following on from my creative and verbose passion, I grew into the knowledge that I was a horribly terrible speller, and my dreams were a little shot down, though I did know that computers were quite the spellers themselves…

Other than school texts, I read little growing up. I did read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien in year 5 and 6 (or so), and Harry Potter J.K Rowling at about the same time. I read extensively the year I finished high school, but, having had a long break, I turned again to Harry Potter to ignite once again my passion for books in 2012, devouring anything I could find.

I have recently taken to trolling through op shops and hunting for old dusty books that I can read. One favourite book I recently read is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury; which I would recommend to anyone. I heard about it from John Green of the Vlogbrothers on YouTube, a hero of mine.

DeviantART Story Contest – sub 500 words

I smell his scent on the air. There is cologne, and musty hair, and the all-encompassing gulf of sweat, and pheromones and testosterone; making me drunk with love. The taste of tobacco fills my mouth, and my heart races, as I push myself against him; legs feeling more and more weak. My thoughts lazily drift towards the musing that I may be getting addicted – though it would be easier to quit having never touched a cigarette in my life.

Music floods my veins. I laugh as I am carried forward in the currents of rhythm and dance. The saturated and rolled up bits of tissue paper in my ears block the deafening and brain-cutting noise; allowing for the enjoyment of it all. I am utterly lost in the sound.

Blood pumps. Clothes dampen. Pupils dilate. Eyes wander. Blood rushes.

I’m horizontal and can feel softness, but I’m falling back over and over again, and my head is spinning. He’s lying next to me, and I smile at his peaceful rest. My heart flutters and my stomach aches. Overcome by his beauty, I pull the pen out of my pocket and begin to paint his mysterious dark features which are spattered with dark hair. The three colours of paint I have are enough. The room is in hazy darkness and the drained hues are almost washed out completely. I’ll remember this moment forever, I decide – as I immortalise the strong and silent form. Feeling and emotion seeps into the canvass.

Where am I?

I look down. There’s a scrap of stained paper lying next to my leg with a sketch on it. It’s a shaky mess and it might resemble a human figure.

As the scrunched up ball of paper sails towards the trash can, a volt of stabbing agony shoots from front of eyes to back of skull.


Does God Exist? by Nathan Renner

This is posted here for reference – My review and response to this article

Does God Exist? by Nathan Renner WWII Story

How can this story harmonize with the existence of a good God? Perhaps surprisingly, I am persuaded that the woeful condition of our world harmonizes profoundly and precisely with a good God; even a great God–even the most conceivably good God. In fact, I will argue that our world is exactly the kind of world a perfectly good, perfectly holy, and perfectly benevolent God would create. This evening, I will present 2 lines of evidence:

I. Let’s begin by looking squarely at the challenge: Epicurus in the third century before Christ asked, “Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able but not willing. Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

In order to address this question we should let the great Scottish philosopher John H. Hick, frame the problem, “If God is perfectly loving, he must wish to abolish evil; and if he is all-powerful, he must be able to abolish evil. But evil exists; therefore God cannot be omnipotent and perfectly loving.”

However this argument relies on a faulty understanding of omnipotence. Omnipotence, by it’s nature comes with certain inherent limitations.

If, with omnipotence, everything were possible–everything!–then that would include the impossible, because “everything,” as a universal set, must contain “the impossible” as well.  

Gregory Boyd articulates the limitations of omnipotence compellingly, “There is no reason to avoid saying God can’t do some thing so long as we are clear that this “can’t” is the logical consequence of decisions God has made.”

A few examples might be in order: Can omnipotence create a triangle that has four sides? No? because the moment it has four sides it’s no longer a triangle. Can omnipotence create a circle with a square edge? No because the moment it has a square edge it’s no longer a circle. Can omnipotence make 2+2=5? No,because the moment it’s 5 it’s no longer 2+2. And can omnipotence create a love that is forced? No, because the moment that it is forced it’s no longer love.

Just as a triangle, to be a triangle, must have three sides, so love, to be love, must be freely given. To force love is to annihilate it. Definitionally, Love, must be free. Or said another way, true love must give the right to not love.

Let me illustrate: If I were to pull out a gun and ask you to stand up, what would you do? Stand? What if I asked you to turn around? Would you? What if I asked you to stand on your head? You would try. What if I pointed the gun at you and said, Love me or I’ll pull the trigger. Could you? Of course not. Love is only love when it is free. Behavior can be compelled, but love by its nature requires freedom.

Freedom, however, involves risk because freedom can be misused. Indeed, as anyone who has ever been romantically involved can attest, freedom is risky business. And yet the risk is worth it. In fact, we often throw ourselves at the risk because of the promise of reward.

In this vein C.S. Lewis noted, “If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or joy or goodness worth having.”

Simply put, the only reason God would risk creating a world in which evil is possible, is because that is the only world in which, love, joy, and goodness would be possible. A world with freedom is a world in which evil is possible, a risky world; but it is also the only kind of world in which true love and freedom could exist.

To summarize this argument, we must ask, is the suffering of our world necessarily inconsistent with a good God? The answer is a definite no. In fact, I am persuaded that the woeful condition of our world harmonizes profoundly and precisely with a good God. Why? Because a good God, a God of love, would necessarily grant his creation freedom, and freedom necessarily involves risk. Indeed, within this context, the existence of evil and suffering is an evidence of a good God, a God of love who values freedom, who is willing to take the risk for love.

II. The question, Is God good, assumes that there is some objective standard of goodness, which God must meet in order to be good. However, without God, an objective standard of good does not exist. On this point there is tremendous agreement between, theists and atheists.

Jean-Paul Sartre the French existentialist philosopher said: “It is very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it.”

Don’t miss Sartre’s the point: without God there is no transcendent definition of good, and that’s distressing. All were left with is a human working definition of good. Where then do we get this working definition of Good?

The respected evolutionary biologist, George C. Williams sees morality as, “an accidental capability produced, in its boundless stupidity, by a biological process.” or again, the late J. L. Mackie, professor of philosophy at Oxford University said, “It is easy to explain this moral sense as a natural product of biological and social evolution rather than as having been implanted by an author of nature.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, the prolific atheist of the last century who proclaimed the death of God, understood this all too well. “The end of Christianity,” wrote Nietzsche, “means the advent of nihilism.” (Nihilism is defined as: the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.) Nietzsche clearly taught that, only the man who is able to live beyond good and evil will acquire mastery in the coming age of nihilism, which stands already at the door.

There is near universal agreement, that without a good God, who set up objective standards of goodness, good becomes a creation of evolutionary biology, society, or some combination of the two. One society may have evolved to love their neighbor and another may have evolved to eat their neighbor. Which do you prefer? If goodness and morality are defined by biology and culture, what are we to do when a culture, such as Nazi Germany, decides that there is a moral imperative to exterminate 6 million Jews? Do we say, their good is defined by their culture… have at it? Clearly, Sartre was correct. Without God an objective standard of good ceases to exist and this is truly distressing.

You see, if the secular, rationalistic view corresponds to reality, then every star in the universe will one day burn out, the era of light will be over, and all life, memory, and consciousness will vanish into the nothingness from which it came. If true, this option means, of course, that the question, “why is there suffering?” has to be answered somewhat like this: “You can do nothing about suffering, because all suffering means nothing. How could it, when one day the stars will burn out, the universe will collapse upon itself, and all matter space, and time will disappear with absolutely nothing to show for all that came with it, including humanity?”

In the light of the futility of this world without a good God, Albert Camus remarked in the Myth of Sisyphus that suicide is the “one truly serious philosophical problem.” If there is no ultimate purpose why would we chose to continue to live?

If however, the Christian God exists and if His promises are trustworthy, then somehow beyond the stars, somehow beyond the margins of imagination, there’s an answer to the question of suffering, and it goes somewhat like this: “There is a greater good, one greater than all that has happened, and though that greater good seems impossible even as a possibility, much less a promise–it is a promise of God.”

Indeed every day we chose to live, we confess the truth that God is right. The risks and rewards of freedom are worth it.

III. This all begs the question: Why doesn’t God put an end to suffering now? Before we answer, let me ask you, if there was a Stop Evil Now button, would you push it? Before you answer let me tell you a story: When Aleksander Solzhenitsyn returned to his native Russia after long years of exile, he greeted all the people he met on his journey across Russia, including those local bureaucrats who had tyrannized their fellow citizens under the Communist system but who had stayed in office after 1989. Some objected: what was Solzhenitsyn doing fraternizing with these people who had been a part of the evil system? To which he responded, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” (The Gulag Archipelago 1973)

Because we all have the line between good and evil running through us God has not pushed Stop Evil Now button. If he did he would obliterate each and everyone of us. And He simply loves us too much to do this. However, within the Christian worldview, God chose to meet the suffering and evil of this world by becoming one of us in the person of Jesus. He experienced evil at every level: political, social, cultural, personal, moral, religious, spiritual and he begin to redeem it by his life of ministry and his death, burial and resurrection for our sins. His desire is to forgive us for the misuse of our freedom, and that the goodness of God the love of God, would motivate us to use our freedom, in acts of selfless love for others.

Please imagine that your daughter has just been abducted and murdered by some vicious criminal. What do you feel toward the perpetrator? Are you angry? Yes, and rightly so. Raging, would be a better word. Would you call the police? Yes, of course. You might even hunt the murderer down yourself. Would you press charges? Yes, without hesitancy. Testify against the evil-doer? Yes! Demand that the full measure of justice be executed against the horrible person who did this to your child. Yes!!!!!

But now, as you’re feeling all those justifiable emotions, let me add another feature to the dark story: you turn to see that the apprehended murderer sitting in the back of the police car is your daughter. Not some no-name freak, but your very own daughter, whom you love with every ounce of your being, just as you do you son. She’s the one who killed your son. Now how do you feel? Have your emotions changed, become more complicated, conflicted? Are the justice issues as easy now? What form does your “goodness”, your “love,” take now? Suddenly you want justice for your murdered child and mercy for your guilty child.  

God is in this type of predicament on a universal scale. Every human being is known and loved by God with the intimacy of a parent for their child. And yet each and every one of us has misused our freedom. Each of us has caused pain. The line between good and evil runs right through the middle of each of us—and so for God it’s messy. If He puts an end to evil, He would put an end to us.

Why then did God risk it? To achieve the best possible world.

You see, we are not living in the best possible world. The best possible world is a world of absolute freedom, and universal love. We have only one of the two. However, this world is the best way to the best possible world. A world of absolute freedom, and universal love.

From the Christian perspective God has sought to achieve the best possible world through the work of Jesus Christ. On the cross Jesus took upon himself the problem of evil. And as an act of judgment, God eliminated evil in the death of Jesus. Because Jesus always used his freedom for love he was resurrected.  

By trusting in God as He revealed himself in Jesus, we find forgiveness for the misuse of our freedom. Additionally, we are motivated by the example of Jesus to use our freedom to promote universal love.

Won’t you join me in accepting this plan to bring about God’s world of absolute freedom and universal love?

Response to Christian article “Does God Exist?” by Nathan Renner

Response to Christian article “Does God Exist?”  by Nathan Renner

This article reminds me of the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of “The Great Controversy” – explanation for why there is pain and suffering in the world though there is an allegedly powerful loving God existing in the Universe…

The opening reminds me of the short story “Candide” by Voltaire ~ It’s about a young man, with a priest mentor who has a philosophy that the world is perfect, and that nothing in the world could ever be changed to make it better, any change at all would make it worse, because it is currently in its most perfect state of affairs.
The man is thrown out of his estate, is drifting with the wind through the world, gets sucked into a war, sees mass murder, and horrible things while traveling the world, and is shocked as to how the philosopher could have been correct…
The article is for believers, so it has no relevance to my life.
If you consider reality with the assumption that the God of the Bible exists, then you need some justification for the state of things, and I feel the Great Controversy is the most logical one, but like Christianity in general, has no foundation, other than the fact that you believe in it with faith and hope that it’s true…
If God exists, then everything must be perfect, and the Bible must be flawless and without contradictions, atrocities or craziness.. because if there were bad things, surely He would have corrected them, or in any case, all things work out for good ultimately.

Game design uni project

Assignment 2 video game design

My game is entitled “The One Path”.

The game begins in the real world, where you stumble through a forest, lost and without hope. Going through a labyrinth of cliffs, you battle the forest  creatures and become stronger.
To beat the stronger monsters and enter the next world, you must battle some imps which are guarding some armor and weapons. After defeating some of the imps, others start fleeing. Weather you chase and destroy them changes the course of your journey.

As with the two sides of a coin, the paths of good and evil are infinitely close, yet exactly opposite. There is one path. It just depends on which direction will you travel on it.

So you start in the forest and make your decision which path you will take.

You enter into another dimension – representing the good or evil path; icy peaks or fiery caverns. However you have one last chance to change your mind, and go the other way. You can’t go back to the forest, because the portal is a one way trip. The first person you encounter is a small girl standing over a large sword. She says it is a very valuable sword that she’s protecting for her father. She tells you to stay back, and picks up the sword in self defense. Will you take it? leave her alone?

If you follow your original path of good/evil, the dimension is your haven where you can train and gain information about the worlds, however if you go against your first choice, you are now in enemy territory.

After battling through the perils of this dimension, gaining items and skills, you enter into the opposite side of the coin.

In both worlds you find others who have been trapped there by one way portals, but towards the end of your journey, you find a group who have redirected the portal, and you find yourself back in the forest. It is very different from before. When you make your way back through the maze of cliffs, you see a figure that looks ominously similar to yourself. Yet different.. quite the opposite.

The game starts of easy, with woodland creatures as enemies. As the game progresses, enemies get more powerful and the complexity of battle rules increases. Also the battle rules for the two moral choices are different.

If you are ‘good’ – taking physical damage causes the opponent to lose twice as much damage. And physical damage you inflict also damages you, so it’s more effective to use magic.

If you are ‘evil’ if you pass an enemy without destroying it, twice as many enemies appear up ahead. So if you don’t battle anyone and run ahead to the goal, you will encounter a hoard of enemies that won’t let you pass.

The interaction with the stranded characters from the real world also changes depending on which side you stand.

If you are ‘good’, then you can get better items by befriending them and gaining their trust, however if you try to attack them, they will drop inferior items. The opposite is true for if you are ‘evil’. If you attack and destroy them, you are left with better items.

There are certain challenges you need to accomplish before proceeding to the next world. You need to find seven keys in order to unlock the door to the next world. The keys are scattered on the level so you need to explore it.

Before you go through the door, you also need to defeat the guardian of the door in order to go through it.

I used basic landscape functions to make the terrain, and portals. I then added some objects for scenery, items, monsters and other characters.

I made some containers with items in them, and changed some of the lighting (in the caverns it is always night, in the icy peaks, it is always  day.)

I didn’t know how to implement some aspects of my initial design, and don’t know if it is possible in the engine. Such as:

Using the same map, but having the monsters and human characters change in it depending on game decisions, (reusing the map, but having different functions depending on what part of the game you’re in)
Having some of the battle rules (physically damaging a monster causes damage to you/ not destroying a monster causes more to appear)
The decisions in the game – there are two versions of the game, that can happen on the same maps. The decisions should change the game. There is only one portal in the forest, and it leads to one of the other maps, depending on your decisions.

Because these functionality are hard to model, I made all the scenery, visuals, characters, items etc. But the game doesn’t function as it would if it was fully completed.

Literature review – Japanese History


Not without flaws, the text “The Empire of Things: Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Material Legacy and Cultural Profile” (Pitelka, Morgan 2009) successfully constructs a broad brush stroke overview of the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu and a picture of the cultural, political and social climate he lived in. The paper frames this biographical profile in the context of the historical significance we can glean from cultural and artistic artifacts, more specifically the painting “Dream Portrait of the Tōshōgu Deity” by Kanō Tan’yū.

This Biographical sketch aims to bring the reader through the complete life and times of Tokugawa Ieyasu, from traumatic childhood, being sent to a foreign clan as a hostage, through his adult life, his gain in military power, political ascension, strong stable retirement and glorification of reputation after death (Pitelka, Morgan 2009.) The text has three main foci which are linked to the three types of objects shown in the portrait by Kanō Tan’yū. The first focus is on the importance and significance of swords as gifts, presents and status symbols in Ieyasu’s life, especially early on in his training and growth as a worrier. The impact that Chinese culture, thought and literature on Ieyasu is also significant, and reflected in his extensive collection of artifacts and texts, two of which are pictured in the art work. Finally, the favorite past time of falconry, which also aided in political and social status, as well as physical and mental training is depicted in the wall print behind Ieyasu.

This paper shows a glimpse into Tokugawa Ieyasu’s life in an interesting and focused manner. The artifacts seen in the Kanō Tan’yū painting form the structure of the content, and keep the content of the paper focused on the areas of life that were most prominent in Ieyasu’s life and immortalised legacy after his death. I found the text easy to read and follow, easily empathising with the central figure. I felt what it would be like to live in Japan at that time. I was also able to see through Ieyasu’s eyes, and feel what he felt through his life. The paper cited varied and diverse sources, since Ieyasu had some “unwillingness to record personal thoughts and emotions in written form.” (Pitelka, Morgan 2009) These references enrich the experience of learning about Ieyasu and give a deeper understanding of his personal life. The frame of the paper is a painting which was commissioned after Ieyasu’s death, fulfilling the intended purpose of the author to use material culture to close the gaps of historical texts. Daily journal type entries by Ieyasu’s falconry partners show us his interest in the activities from the point of view of a contemporary of his.

Although I enjoyed reading the text and felt that the purpose to “enrich our understanding of Ieyasu and his age,” (Pitelka, Morgan 2009) I didn’t feel that the text had a strong or convincing argument. Upon reading the conclusion, I didn’t feel I was being called to change my view or opinions on the subject matter, and though the Kanō Tan’yū painting was used as a skeleton for the paper’s structure, and it was mentioned throughout the essay, there was no final statement as to how and why cultural artifacts indeed fill in gaps that other historical text can not do. Concluding the paper, the author only talked about such paintings as solidifying the honour and status of such clans as Tokugawa and how they continue their legacy. I felt that the introduction and stated purpose was related but disjointed to the conclusion.

In conclusion, Morgan Pitelka’s paper indeed gives us a deep and focused picture of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s life and the society he lived in, showing the importance of cultural artifacts as historical aids, however, the author could have delivered a stronger message to the reader, rather than a historical narrative and could have tied the text together in the conclusion more tightly.

Elementary Planetary Astronomy Essay: Climate Change

ASTR178 Pushka Gib’en

Were genocide or the destruction of a country the topic of a discussion on ethics, there would be immediate consensus as to what the outcome and preventative measures should be, however when the issue is human enabled global climate change, many would be ready to deny their role in loss of property and life. One nation that may be directly affected by climate change and raising sea levels is the estimated 11,200 residents of the island nation of Tuvalu. The country is composed of 9 coral islands with a height generally four or five metres above sea level. The local residents of the country have a part to play in preserving their land; however they are also at the mercy of all other countries.

Estimates have the country uninhabitable in the next 50 years if the trajectory of current changes in global climate continues in the direction they have been going. The islands have quite a low altitude, and are susceptible to being completely submerged if sea levels rise a considerable amount. Ceiling fluctuations in ocean tides already cause flooding in parts of Tuvalu when tides are at their peak. Depending on one’s location, tides may increase or decrease in mean size depending on the time of year, such as spring tides, when there is a full or new moon. Other effects of climate change are also being observed by citizens. Weather patterns are having adverse effects on crops, with a notable increase in high winds and other volatile weather patterns. Saline waters from the ocean are contaminating farming soil by either direct spray from the ocean, or by leaking through the soil. Coral bleaching has been increasing and fishing is becoming more and more difficult. Were it a more affluent nation at risk of their country being damaged or destroyed by climate change, perhaps more swift action would be taken to alleviate the effects. The fact that Tuvalu is a small nation does not change the fact that as a global community, we should be protecting all people and taking responsibility for our negative impacts on others.

The result of the hardships brought on by changes in the environment, such as damage to farmland and oceans, has been more reliance on imported food. This is creating competition with local produce, introducing lower quality processed food into the community and further increasing the carbon footprint of the nation and the world, as sustainable local practices are replaced with global transport and industrial agriculture processes. Other nations may have caused these damaging consequences, and the deputy prime minister of Tuvalu had called on the UN for major polluters of the world to pay compensation for the economic impacts on the country that climate change has wrought, however the majority of funds come from foreign aid, licencing and sales of the top level domain name .tv which would be for example.

The situation is seen as an injustice by residents of Tuvalu and others concerned about the effects of climate change. Those who are feeling the unfavourable effects of climate change are they that seem to be contributing least to it. The people of Tuvalu have little western technological and urban developments and therefore are not contributing as much per capita as others in affluent western countries, and on top of this, they are aiming to rely solely on renewable energy by 2020. Tuvalu wishes to lead by example to other nations, and I would agree that there must be another way to live sustainably as a global village. The sobering thought is that it will take quite a while for Tuvalu to rely on renewable energy alone, without support from governments, industrial and business sectors, it seems an impossible task for all other countries to follow suite, at least at this present moment.

There are relocations strategies being discussed, however some countries simply want Tuvalan immigrants as labourers rather than simply relocating them. There is a conundrum, as the Tuvalu culture is closely linked to the sea, yet foreign oceanside land is expensive, and many Tuvalu residents do not want to move to another country. There is still time for the people of Tuvalu, and perhaps as they were requesting, corporations and governments contributing most to climate change could be forced to pay compensation to those affected by it.

There are also some factors which the people of Tuvalu must address in order to help the situation or prevent further damage. There has been mining of beaches and cutting down of trees which may contribute to island erosion. Some claim that sea levels are not rising at all, and it is simply the actions on the islands that have caused the detrimental effects, however other data is contrary to this theory. Because of this, both the local people of Tuvalu and the world as a whole both have a part to play in the preservation of this island nation.

In conclusion, though developed wealthy nations may not appear to noticeably experience the adverse effects of climate change, all people are responsible for the liberty and right of all people to live in their land, something which may be taken away from the people of Tuvalu. The actions of the past may be hard alleviated, but actions can be taken to reduce the impact on our environment and other countries. All people, governments and corporations that contribute to the factors leading to climate change are responsible for detrimental circumstances arising around the world such as what is happening in Tuvalu.

Reference List
Patel S. S. 2006. “Climate science: A sinking feeling” Nature 440 734-736.

Chambers A. F. and Chambers K. S. 2007. “Five Takes on Climate and Cultural Change in
Tuvalu” The Contemporary Pacific 19 (1): 294-306.

Terry C. 2009. “Tuvalu hopes solar project inspires climate talks; nation sets goal of 100
percent clean energy by 2020” AAAS.

Lusama T. 2011. “The Long View: Tuvalu a nation sinking as the world warms”  Private

2012. “Tuvalu” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

Pita A. 2007. “United Nations High Level Meeting on Climate Change – Tuvalu calls for
Climate Change Polluters to Pay”

2009. “Tuvalu: Economic overview and major challenges”

Japanese History Essay – The Samurai and Bushido

“It would be difficult to find any facet of Japan’s cultural heritage that exercises as powerful a hold on the world’s popular imagination as the samurai (Friday 1994, 339).” One aspect of Japan’s cultural development which can show how extraordinary Japan is as a nation can be seen in the “Way of the Warrior,” or “Bushido.” This essay will present why I believe Bushido is a paramount exemplification of the fact that what makes Japan remarkable as a nation is the way in which aspects of other nations have been assimilated and adapted over time. Firstly, I will show the power and impact Bushido has had on Japan, its people and the world; then show how it was influenced by other cultures and religions, focusing on the end of the Heian period and the Gempei War.

Nitobe Inazō (2002, 35) is said to have been one of the first writers to popularise the word Bushido, and he describes that the concept is so unique, it is difficult to portray it completely using any other English word as a translation (Friday 1994). Nitobe (2002, 35) also explains that Bushido is quite complicated in its formation and definition, since it was formulated by many people over a large span of time, not detailed in writings, but lived out in moral principals in the warrior’s life and heart. In my opinion, I see that since this concept is so unique to Japan, that it isn’t comparable to other cultural essences in other nations, that it shows how remarkable the nation of Japan truly is. Though the article by Karl F Friday (1994) is critical of the later evolution of Bushido as a negative force, it begins with the sentiment that Samurai warriors have had an impact as role models and their traditions have been objects of intrigue in media and public thought around the world. I see this adding gravity to the role Bushido plays demonstrating how noteworthy the Japanese culture is; that though Bushido is a foreign concept on the global stage, it is not rejected, shunned or feared; but honoured and valued.

Another notable aspect of Bushido and its influence is the fact that it moved away from being a warrior code to impacting the culture and thought of all people in Japan (Friday 1994, 342). This is quite different to how Samurai would have foreseen the future in the time of the Heian Period and the Gempei War, since there was a divide between the superior warrior class, and all other classes (Friday 1994, 343). I believe this shows us two things; firstly, that the essence of Bushido had a lasting impact on Japan and its people, transcending many political, economic and cultural changes (Morton and Olenik 2005). Secondly, this shift in classes shows that Bushido was more than a warrior code, but a deeper philosophy and way of life that could be incorporated into the lives of all people. Nitobe (2002, 19) compares his experience with Bushido to the gleaning of morals from religious education in the west. In my view, one of the prominent identifying marks of a society and culture is the way in which morals are gained by citizens, and it is interesting that Bushido has taken that place of what religion has added to so many other countries.

The ideals of loyalty and bravery, being principal areas of Bushido code, have heavily influenced the Japanese people all the way into the twentieth century (Morton and Olenik 2005, 63). The ideals were included in the traditional artistic and culturally significant theatrical plays of Kabuki and Nō (Morton and Olenik 2005, 63). These plays are still performed in Japan and abroad as a legacy to past culture (Wells 1991, 118). Because of this, the characters and themes of chivalrous and virtuous Samurai are ever within reach of both the Japanese people and those in other countries (Wells 1991, 119). This adds to what has already been stated, that the long lasting impact and widespread nature of Bushido adds to the remarkable nature of the Japanese nation.

Through history Bushido changed and evolved, being summarised at times into seven traits: loyalty, decorum, faith, obedience, courage, frugality and honor (Friday 1994, 340). Karl F Friday (1994, 339) contrasts his initial analysis of Bushido being a highly regarded code with the observation that it also had a “sinister side.” Swinson (1968, 15) writes that the samurai class had been abolished for seventy four years, but the Bushido warrior code was still incorporated into army affairs and also used as propaganda (Friday 1994, 340). The fact that Bushido was attributed to all people rather than just warriors of soldiers was also used as a form of propaganda as described in the 1882 document “The Imperial Rescript to the Military” (Friday 1994, 342). Another way in which past warrier practices were used to manipulate people in ways which were not originally intended was the thought that the prime purpose was to die for the cause, as seen in the Kamikaze pilots (Friday 1994, 341). This was not the exact original intent when considering the Bushido code of the Heian period and Gempei War, but was used for military gain in World War Two (Friday 1994, 341). Though this is a darker side to the Bushido code, I still believe that it can’t be ignored when considering how powerful an influence Bushido has been on the world. I believe that it is not the Bushido code that is to be looked down on, but on the way it was used in the Second World War.

It is easier to consider Bushido at its later forms of development than the origins, because it was formally defined and solidified as a concept in the 17th and 18th centuries, when there was peace, and the Samurai were more bureaucrats and administrators rather than practicing warriors (Friday 1994, 340). Nitobe (2002, 36) postulates that perhaps Bushido started forming at the time of Minamoto Yoritomo, who lived at the time of political shift from the gentle scholars of the Japanese courts to the warrior class which became the most prominent (Morton and Olenik 2005, 62). Nitobe (2002, 36) also suggests that Bushido could be tied in with feudalism, which existed before this time, so there could have been some other influences from earlier history. Shinto, the native religion of the Japanese people added a lot to the Bushido, such as loyalty to the sovereign, reverence for ancestors and the teaching of inner godliness that exists within all Nitobe (2002, 40). This shows how Bushido was indeed Japanese from its origins, however, it was not completely uninfluenced in its creation.

Nitobe (2002, 39) claims that it may all start with Buddhism, with a “calm trust in Fate, submission to the inevitable, that stoic composure in the sight of danger or calamity, that disdain of life and friendliness with death.” Buddhism originally being from India, and coming to Japan from China shows that indeed Bushido was not solely a domestic creation, but something from abroad that had been assimilated into Japanese culture and adapted over time to become something new in Japan (Morton and Olenik 2005, 65). Zen Buddhism in particular was important in Bushido development, focusing on practicing the way, not just studying teachings and writings (Morton and Olenik 2005, 65, Nitobe 2002, 42). Zen Buddhism was influenced by the Chinese Taoism and another contributor to Buhido was also Chinese Confucian philosophy (Morton and Olenik 2005, 65). Confucius teachings had entered Japan before the Samurai existed, and brought the strong belief of loyalty to the country, which is so prominent in Bushido and the Samurai (Friday 1994, 341, Morton and Olenik 2005, 65). Through these many different examples of religious and philosophical beliefs, traditions and teachings we can see that Bushido would not exist, save that these international influences had been incorporated into the way.

Through the aforementioned characteristics of uniqueness, impact on cultural heritage and international image of Japan, lasting impact on the Japanese people and influential power in military propaganda, we can see that Bushido is in fact one aspect of historical development that shows how remarkable Japan is. We have also seen the influence of Buddhist teachings, the Taoist influenced Zen Buddhism and Chinese Confucian influences on Bushido and Japanese culture, proving that Bushido was not wholly a domestic Japanese development, but an innovation in which aspects other nations have been assimilated and adapted over time.

Reference List

Friday, Karl F. 1994. “Bushidō or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition.” The History Teacher 27 (3): 339-349.

Morton, W. Scott and J. Kenneth Olenik. 2005. Japan: Its History and Culture. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Nitobe, Inazō. 2002. Bushido: The Soul of Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd.

Swinson, Arthur. 1968. Four samurai: a quartet of Japanese army commanders in the Second World War. London: Hutchinson

Wells, Marguerite. 1991. “The road to Tokyo! A Kabuki review.” Japanese Studies 11 (1): 118-122