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 MLK Day: Sailor Moon and the Principles of Nonviolence

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PostSubject: MLK Day: Sailor Moon and the Principles of Nonviolence   16th January 2012, 10:24 am

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and as I was writing a tumblr post about the evolution of Sailor Moon's character in the eyes of Carol Gilligan's "Stages of the Ethic of Care" I decided to look up what she meant in the postconventional stage - "Principle of Nonviolence". I had already attributed that to pretty much define the final stage of Sailor Moon, especially in Stars, but as it had an official name I thought I would google it.

What I found was Martin Luther King Jr.'s Principles of Nonviolence, and reading through them I think that most everyone can agree that this describes the ultimate form of Sailor Moon perfectly. In every principle, in every stage, it is what Sailor Moon became in the Stars Arc. It is everything she believed in, everything she embodied, and in the end, she did create "The Beloved Community" in Crystal Tokyo.

I'ts just amazing and Super Neat, and I hope people get as excited about this as I do/did. Here you go:

Principle One: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people
  • It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
  • It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
  • It is always persuading the opponent of the righteousness of your cause.
  • It is only passive in its non-aggression toward its enemy.

Principle Two: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding
  • The end of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
  • The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of The Beloved Community.

Principle Three: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people
  • Nonviolence recognizes that evil doers are also victims and are not evil people.
  • The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil not people.

Principle Four: Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform
  • Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation.
  • Nonviolence accepts violence if necessary, but will never inflict it.
  • Nonviolence willingly accepts the consequences of its act.
  • Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous education and transforming possibilities.
  • Suffering has the power to convert the enemy when reason fails.

Principle Five: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate
  • Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body.
  • Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.
  • Nonviolent love gives willingly knowing that the return might be hostility.
  • Nonviolent love is active, not passive.
  • Nonviolent love is unending in its ability to forgive in order to restore community.
  • Nonviolent love does not sink to the level of the hater.
  • Love for the enemy is how we demonstrate love for ourselves.
  • Love restores community and resists injustice.
  • Nonviolence recognizes the fact that all life is interrelated.

Principle Six: Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice
  • The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win
  • Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.

So, what do you think?


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PostSubject: Re: MLK Day: Sailor Moon and the Principles of Nonviolence   16th January 2012, 12:03 pm

This is an interesting topic for a number of reasons. The first point of debate is the difference in the Sailor Moon media with respect to non-violent resistance: In the anime, Usagi is portrayed as having an extraordinary pacifistic streak, attacking only when the threat is imminent and/or underway and when the attacker is effectively irreconcilable, or sometimes not attack at all (e.g., the S season). In the manga, however, Sailor Moon is far more willing to strike an enemy down, although she only does so to defend the livelihood of others. Takeuchi probably fostered a stronger sense of dualism in the manga, i.e., good guys are good and bad guys are bad. With the exception of brainwashing Mamoru and Chibiusa, none of the characters on either sides of the good/evil axis experience a crisis of faith in their own system---at least to the best of my recollection. In the anime, routinely several of the evil characters would experience moments wherein they realized the wrongness of their beliefs. That was probably done to appeal to a broader audience; the theme of reconciliation further amplifies the over arching motif of love and friendship conquering obstacles. Note that in the anime, the Sailor Senshi rarely are directly responsible for the deaths of the major villains, whereas in the manga each of the Senshi play a role in taking down the "mini-bosses" surrounding the big bads. And let us not forget how gruesome some of the deaths are, such as Jadeite being scorched to a crisp by Mars, or Aluminum Seiren being smote by Star Fighter and Star Maker.

The second noteworthy point is the formation of Crystal Tokyo. I don't recall exactly who made this statement, though I remember it was a fan fiction writer, but someone once observed that Crystal Tokyo could be interpreted as a pagan version of the New Jerusalem, the city mentioned toward the end of the Book of Revelation which is formed with the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth. In many ways, Crystal Tokyo optimizes the triumph of the human spirit, and the rewards of mutual respect and love for each other. And, so, there is something of a recapitulation of the Adam and Eve creation story from Genesis with the Black Moon Clan being banished from this new paradise and falling prey to Wiseman who, in the manga, is the very manifestation of Chaos itself. Arguably, then, it is a battle between a form of nihilism and utopian idealism. In short, there is the allusion to a struggle between modernism and postmodernism; between the ideal of humankind reaching the summit of harmonious nature through order versus forces which seek to fulfill only their own desires, no matter what the cost may be.

This point is arguably tangential, but I believe it links back into the principles set forth by Dr. King. I was fortunate enough to read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and it is a wonderfully moving and though provoking piece. And there is an occasional tendency to forget or disregard---I am not accusing you of this, Kyralih!---how grounded he is in the Christian peacemaking ethos. And I believe the term "peacemaker," as Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and essayist, highlighted, is more appropriate than "pacifist." Merton preferred "peacemaker" to "pacifist" as the latter had a tendency to imply being passive and unwilling to commit to peace. To this end, the Sailor Senshi are peacemakers, whereas the Outer Senshi tend to have a "just warrior" approach. In this sense, I prefer the emphasis on the moral ambiguity of the Outer Senshi's actions in the anime than I do in the manga; likewise, the struggle between Sailor Moon and the Outer Senshi as to how they should proceed against the Death Busters feels more compelling in the anime, in my opinion.

I also think it is worthwhile to make a distinction between peacemaking and Christian peacemaking, though I do not wish to brand one as superior to the other. The hallmark of Christian peacemaking is not so much citing Scripture but instead acting as a witness to paschal mystery of Jesus, i.e., his life, death, and resurrection in accordance with Christian belief. So, it a matter of being compelled by God's love and sense of justice, as well as the belief that the Resurrection did occur and that there will be a climactic event at the end of time. If you ever have a chance to read Merton's Passion for Peace, which I do, this is made abundantly clear.

Bear in mind that I am not attempting to hawk a Christian ethical worldview. What I mean to do is highlight Dr. King's peacemaking as being driven by this sense of eschatological urgency. The Senshi are often compelled by a belief that those who are unable to defend themselves need guardians, although not at the expense of their freedoms. On the whole, I think the Sailor Senshi would most certainly admire Dr. King, his principles, and for what he stood.


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