Five men are dead because of us. We can try to rationalize that their lives were of little worth, for they were but peasants. But they were Crane peasants; Crane peasants slain in Crane lands by Crane samurai. I do not doubt the necessity of our actions; the desperation that drove those men to violence against us would have been much worse if it were directed at innocents. These men were disrespectful to the lands of their lords and had clearly forsaken their duties. They were searching for a fight, and they found it in us.
Still… who are we to judge them? Who are we to decide that, in that moment, they must die?
Bushido tells us what the answer is, but it is less clear on why. I have read the tenets, and I honor them to the best of my ability, but I do not always understand them. It is a simple thing to memorize the code, to recite it upon command; far trickier, I have found, to use the code wisely and as it was originally intended. That is the most subtle art of Bushido; not in its execution, but in knowing when to execute. Any man may practice Bushido, but that does not make any man a samurai. Kakita knew that. He did not write down a series of rules to be followed arbitrarily; he wrote down a mantra for a martial kind of faith.
I know that honor demanded we accept the challenge of those peasants, but I am less sure that it ever needed to go that far. Once the violence was imminent, yes, Bushido demanded we cut them down. But did Bushido demand that we let it come to that? Would Kakita have found a better solution?
Graduating from my Gempukku, I foolishly believed I knew all there was to know of Bushido. I am only now beginning to realize just how little I truly understand of it.
I may not be as wise as Kakita himself, but I am of his blood, and I owe it to him to find the answers, to truly understand not just what the tenets of Bushido say, but also what they represent.
For as harrowing as this lesson was, I am beginning to believe that the true definition of Bushido is not in the deeds of samurai, but in the decisions which dictate those deeds. Anyone can draw a sword and cut, but a true samurai knows when to draw, and when to keep that sword sheathed.
Tonight when I pray, I will beseech the spirit of Kakita for the wisdom to see past the target of my blade, and into its purpose. Purpose is our compass; without it, we are but wayward travelers lost in a land we do not know. Such is no fate befitting a Kakita. Everything we do, we must do with purpose.