There are seven aspects to the ethical code by which the Samurai composed themselves - Justice, Courage, Benevolence, Politeness, Sincerity, Honor and Loyalty. I have chosen to spearhead an organization which can help chefs and other service industry professionals to make positive changes in their lives and I believe that those who are looking for change will find it on this path.
Each week we will examine one of the aforementioned virtues and see if Bushido may be a good path for the Order of the Chef to use as a guideline in inspiring industry professionals young and old...
BENEVOLENCE - the feeling of distress
"Rectitude carried to excess hardens into stiffness, benevolence indulged beyond measure sinks into weakness...the feeling of distress is the root of benevolence, therefore a benevolent man is ever mindful of those who are suffering and in distress."
|Benevolence - Jin|
Courage and unflinching righteousness are both prerequisite to benevolence...and before you start, I could easily write volumes on this one, weaving in and out of modern socialist banter, rebuttal after witty rebuttal until the ensuing logic blanket grew to cover the sun and signal the end for generations to come. Please, spare us all the touchy-feely bullshit - benevolence is a balanced blade. It is like the nature of water, and like water, should it bend too far to its softer side it will puddle and stagnate, filling the room with flies and stench. Should it bend too far to its harder side it will crush shorelines, changing the shapes of continents, wiping out entire civilizations.
|Zen master to the sword masters, Takuan Soho|
More than just benevolent action in the service of our clients (which may align more with duty or loyalty), this sensitivity to distress in others is vital to the internal functions of a restaurant. Every position in the company structure has its own set of pressures and every individual employee has certain reactions to these as well as pressures that may exist for them outside the workplace. The most successful restaurant owners and managers are those who are capable of simultaneously alleviating feelings of distress both in and out of the workplace while keeping the 'pressure to produce' valve cranked full-tilt. And we all know that some people are just not cut out for this business - on both sides of the equation!
|Somewhere between this....|
In general, there is a lot of teaching going on in the restaurant industry and benevolence seems to send a universal message which challenges the most cutting edge technology as a transmitter of understanding. People tend to absorb more information from a benevolent source, whether they want to or not, they reflect and grow from interactions with benevolent teachers more than from the iron fists of tyrants. The prism of benevolence collects its light from justice and courage and shines in rays of politeness, sincerity, honor and loyalty. It is the key to the effectiveness of our path.