Throwback Thursday—This I Believe: Values

Going through our archives, we came across this great post by Dr. AnnMaria De Mars from August 22, 2016 “This I Believe: Values” that we wanted to share in case you missed it the first time around.

I was going to write about judo tourism, but something else has been on my mind for a long time, so I guess tourism is the next post.
There has been a lot lately that caused me to think about sports, martial arts, and values – everything from the Stanford swimmer who raped an unconscious woman to some appalling behavior at the Olympics to really good behavior everywhere from the Olympics to judo clubs in Wyoming.

A blogger on mathematics has a link to his personal values that says “this I believe”. His link takes you to the Nicene Creed. That’s kind of cool but I thought I would give my own values.

Just to lay it out there, here is what I value. I am not really sure I learned a lot of my values from sports in general or judo in particular.


1. Courage is the greatest virtue from which all others spring. I think Aristotle or some other old Greek said that. It’s still true. Many people know what is the right thing but they are afraid to do it. They are afraid that other people will mock them or think less of them, they will lose their job or lose their friends. There are two types of courage – at least.

  • There is the courage to stand up for your own rights. That includes not allowing people to belittle you, to pay you less than you are worth, to not give you the same opportunities or rewards that other people get due to your gender, race, age or just because they are ass holes. This also includes the courage to stand up for yourself when you are being abused. 
  • The second type of courage is the courage to stand up for the rights of others. When your friend has been mistreated by someone do you still do business with that person hang around with them, work out with them? When you see people mistreated due to their status, be it because they are immigrants, children, waiters or whatever, do you speak up or do you just say, “I don’t want to get involved”?

I am not a “go along to get along” type of person. If I see two people starting to fight whether on the street or kids on the playground, I get involved. I don’t think I learned that from judo at all. I learned it from the many times in my life when I was young and helpless and bad things happened and no one stepped in. For all of the times that I wished that somebody would do something, now I’m that somebody.

2. Being judgmental is perfectly fine. I think all of that “Oh, you can’t judge people”, is bullshit. If you see bad things happen to your friends, and you still hang out with the people who screwed them over like nothing happened then I DO think less of you.

3. Right up there behind courage is honesty. Again, I think there are two kinds of honesty. There is honesty with other people and honesty with yourself. If you tell me something that you know is not true to delay the inevitable that I will get mad at you when I find out that you did not pay the bill or go to practice or write that program, then you are a liar. Let me repeat that because as simple of a concept as it is many people seem to have difficulty with it. If you say something that you know not to be true then you are a liar. 

  • There are lies you tell out of kindness, for example, not telling your family that you are terminally ill because you don’t want them to be unhappy. I think those type of lies are between you and your conscience and in that case I really am not one to judge. 
  • There are lies that you tell to make life easier for you and you do that because you are a coward. I told you I was judgmental. Everybody is a coward sometimes. If you are a good person, those times are few and far between. If lying to make your life easier is habit you are a coward and a bad person. I try not to be either one. 
  • Then there are the lies that you tell yourself. For example, I knew someone who was sleeping with another woman. Then, he had the audacity to say that he didn’t tell his wife because it would hurt her. And I thought to myself are you fucking kidding me? If you don’t want to hurt your wife, don’t sleep with other women. It seems like people tell themselves a lot of lies from I’m going to go back to college to I’m going to quit drinking to my boyfriend is obsessed with knowing what I’m doing every minute because he cares about me so much.

Courage and honesty are really very related because often we lie to ourselves and others because we are afraid to face the truth. If I quit that job, fire that person, get a divorce or move to Tibet like I deep down know I should then I’m admitting that what I had been doing was a mistake. Or maybe I’m afraid of what will happen when I’m a single person with a new job living in Tibet. Better to stay here working at the gym in Iowa married to Bob.

4. Never miss the opportunity to be kind. Whether it is leaving a tip or teaching someone how to do an arm bar or giving someone their first job, if you can do it, do it. I believe this in matters great and small. In fact, mostly small. If I can give someone a spare judo gi or help someone solve a math problem I try to do it as often as I can. I believe the world gets better not in massive events with millions of dollars and thousands of people but rather 10 minutes and $.10 at a time. All of those extra minutes that we spent reading to someone or running laps with someone, the dollars given to the kid selling candy bars or the poor box at church, that’s what adds up to a better world. Most of it is done by people you never notice.

5. God knows what he’s doing even when you don’t. I realized that some of you who read this blog are atheists. That’s fine. This post is about what I believe not what you believe. When I look over my life, all of the best things have their roots in the worst things. For example, getting divorced was pretty awful. However if I hadn’t gotten divorced I never would have married Ron or had Jennifer and Ronda. It was pretty awful injuring my knee when I was young and it caused me a lot of pain and when it went out on me I lost some matches that I otherwise would have won. Because I couldn’t do standing technique I became the best person in the world at ground technique.

6. Your family is your family no matter what. As the poem says “home is the place that when you go there they have to take you in”. No one is like family but family. Now people have said in the comments at other times when I talked about this that that was not the case with their family at all. If that describes your experience I am sorry. However this post is about values what I think is important and what I believe to be true and how I think things should be.

And that about sums it up. There is a lot of other stuff, like don’t cheat on your wife or don’t get addicted to drugs but I think if you follow these first six caring about your family being kind not lying it pretty much covers the rest of the stuff.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot how much of these values did I get from sports from judo?

I got some of them from people I knew in judo and I think this is maybe the key fact about sports and values – you probably got some of your values from sports but it was from the people who coached you, who taught you and who you played with. If they had good values, you probably became a better person through sport. If they were the kind of people that believed in winning at all costs and it didn’t matter if you cheated, it didn’t matter what type of person you were off the mat or off the field, then you probably became a worse person.

**Please excuse any errors in spelling or grammar. I’m using voice input software for blogging while my hand is healing up.

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