A Letter From Doji Makoto

Some leaders stir great fervor in their followers, generating action where none might be possible. Some leaders channel existing fervor to the proper ends, ensuring that actions taken benefit the group. And some leaders … are stuck telling their followers to just grin and bear it.

Honorable Daimyo of the Crane,

With the changing of the seasons, once more the plum tree outside my window has blossomed, painting the sky in crimson and pink blooms. I am reminded of the seasons past when, seated in my mother’s study and facing the daisho of our honored ancestors, I laid my brush upon the paper and wrote letters to my esteemed clan daimyo. Once more I have meditated in the gardens of Kyuden Doji, and with these thoughts clear in my mind, I have written again to advise you on our clan’s path in the coming year.

Word has reached my ear from the distant isles of the Mantis Clan and the Colonies where the Mantis dare openly declare victory in our extended conflict. For now, we have not argued this point as it is better to allow such men to believe in their delusions than to engage in endless refutations. Word has also reached my ears that blood has fallen from the blades of your servants over those words of victory. I pray that you will forgive your samurai; perhaps they have drawn swords without the approval of their lords, but to allow these insults to stand would be against The Way. In these cases that have already occurred, I ask that you look away.

Yet as a bonfire untended will surely grow beyond the ability to control, so too must these matters attract our consideration. Discourage you followers from seeking vengeance against the Mantis. It is unfortunate that we are unable to continue the conflict, as I have no doubt we would have emerged victorious if it had. It is the way of the Mantis to declare victory at every opportunity, whether or not it is warranted. Such words should not invoke your anger; allow yourselves to feel pity for them instead, for in the end, they are simple opportunists.

Let the words of our victories soothe the hearts of your loyal servants, No longer is the so-called seaside dominance of the Mantis beyond question; thanks to our excellence, the other clans now see that the Mantis can be defeated on their own battleground. For now, I pray that your servants will content themselves to wait until it is wise to act again.

I am reminded of a story I once heard in my youth. In Nahan Province during the days of our ancestors, there lived a ronin who was well-known for his skills with the blade. This man had great technique, but in truth, he owed his victories to his sharp tongue. He would buffet his opponents with insults until they were enraged, and with their mind so clouded, he would easily claim victory. One day, he was made to face Kakita Ashidaka in a duel to resolve a dispute. For the entire duel, the ronin hurled insult after indsult, and thought his followers flinched at each word, Ashidaka made no motion and maintained his gentle smile. After nearly ten minutes, the ronin looked the older man in the face, then humbly bowed, conceding defeat. Disgraced, he left. When the followers of Ashidaka asked their daimyo how he had endured such insults, the man gave a simple reply. When your servants ask how they should bear words of the Mantis, I pray you will tell them this phrase, and meditate upon Kakita Ashidaka’s wisdom: “When a man offers you a gift, and you do not accept it, to whom does the gift belongs?”

May the fortunes bless your families.
 Doji Makoto Champion of the Crane

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