A special thanks to Blue Shepard for allowing me to publish his weekly e-newsletter here on Vigilant Wolf. The Blue Shepard is a friend and past guest of Ever Vigilant podcast (episode 43). I personally look forward to his weekly thoughts on Christianity, Manhood, and Brotherhood and I believe you will feel the same.
Bushido is the code of honor held by the ancient Japanese warrior society of Samurai. Any honorable warrior was bound by life and death to adhere to the rigid standards set forth therein.
The image is a depiction of the Shinsengumi, a sort of special national police force in Japan instituted by the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan from 1863 to 1869. The Shinsengumi's sole purpose as a branch of government was to protect Japanese federal representatives in Kyoto during a sort of violent cultural revolution. Taken from the sword schools of Edo, these organized Ronin (rogue swordsmen) composed a fierce fighting force reminiscent of a military police unit (comparable to our US Secret Service).
Due to internal issues and administrative corruption, the Shinsengumi were officially ordered to disband and leave Kyoto, returning to their clan masters in Edo. Out of dedication to their cause, however, 19 of the men disobeyed this order and formed an autonomous clan called the Mibu Roshingumi. Mibu was the town where they kept their headquarters, so they were referred to colloquially as the "Ronin of Mibu". Their numbers eventually grew to over 100 members.
The man standing, wiping the blood from his sword, is Hijikata Toshizo. Having remained faithful to the cause, Hijikata gained respect quickly within the group and soon became the Vice Commander of the unit. Because of his development of rigid guidelines which required all members to adhere strictly to Bushido and bring honor to the group. His utter mercilessness when it came to matters of discipline and order, and his apparent invincibility in battle, Hijikata was given the nickname within the group of "Oni no Fukucho", or "Demon/Ghost Vice Commander".
Two of the group's members, Serizawa and Niimi, began to dishonor the group through drunkenness, womanizing, extortion and other corruption. This gave the group such a bad reputation in the community which they were stationed that they became known as, "The Wolves of Mibu". Hijikata gathered enough evidence to indict Niimi. As were the laws of the time, Niimi was ordered to carry out his own execution, which he did. Hijikata also indicted Serizawa, who refused to give account of himself. Nonetheless the penalty for having dishonored the Shinsengumi was death. Hijikata formed a posse of other members and went to the house where Serizawa was staying only about 19 days after Niimi's death. Hijikata and his men dispatched Serizawa, the harlot who lay beside him, and one of his followers who was also in the house. Serizawa is the dying man depicted above.
I particularly favor this image because it is a burning reminder of the theme of this story. As a man of God, as a law enforcement officer, and as a brother to all Christian manhood, I am reminded by this historic event of these three things:
There is such a thing as honor among men.
There are codes of honor by which we must abide.
We must hold each other accountable.
We have a saying in Law Enforcement: Only the police can police the police. No matter what kind of review board is brought in, or what kind of internal affairs investigation is conducted, only we brothers in arms see what happens and observe each others actions before our very faces. Not only are we bound by our codes, but we are bound to hold each other accountable. This principle applies to all men of honor and not just policemen. If you are a man, God is holding you accountable for the way you hold other men accountable. Honorable actions will never suffice when we turn a blind eye to dishonorable men. There is no justice and there never will be unless and until we hold each other accountable to the codes of honor by which we live and die.
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