On Byakuya and Defending the Principles (Dialogue)
One day – or rather night – we started to discuss personal matters as usual. It had to do with some principles upheld by the Church. Explaining my past actions I said:
Milosz: Ok, I keep to one principle, bc. you have to keep to sth. And somehow of all the principles I can keep this one. And look, it is my only saving grace: that I have always tried to be intellectually honest and never tried to make an exception of myself.
Do you recall Byakuya? He reasoned like that: I don’t know whether Rukia’s execution is good or bad. But in any case, I have to follow the rules. I cannot make an exception of myself. Look, he was one of the most powerful guys in Soul Society; and a head of an aristocratic house. If he trampled the rules, it would encourage everybody to do it – first, bc. he would set a bad example, second, if he disregarded them, the rules would come to be regarded just as an instrument of the ruling elite, which they can reject at convenience… And it is extremely important that these rules be treated v. seriously, and be followed.
Byakuya’s fault was that he didn’t investigate things better.
Ionut: Yes, he should have. He should make sure whether Rukia’s execution was good or bad. But in the end he agreed with Ichigo! Rukia’s execution was bad. His keeping to the rules would have led to a very bad result. And so, looking back, he admitted that it was bad to follow the rules!
M: Well, yes… Hmmm. I don’t know what to say. I guess you win this one…
After a few whiles I started again:
M: But still, it was bad only because of what Aizen did. Rules weren’t bad in themselves. This was an exception. Again I say that his main fault was not to investigate.
I: But then he should investigate and say that it is not good to follow the rules in this case!
M: yes, but… But he was aware that he was an example for other shinigami. So he could say: “yes, what I did turned out bad. But I have followed the rules just as everybody should. I haven’t made an exception of myself.” In this way he does not give a bad example, and that is good.
I: This is just great. Now, whenever I encounter somebody I will tell him:
“I know this guy, Milosz. He wanted to keep the stupid rules so badly, that he knowingly did a very bad thing. This is what keeping rules makes of you. Don’t do it”.
M: Oh my God! No… no, wait. This is bad. This is very bad…
I was quite anguished. I tossed about on the bed for a while. But then something started to quickly take shape in my mind:
M: Hmm… Ok, I know what Byakuya should say. “You say that a very bad thing happened. Perhaps. Maybe I could have avoided that if I investigated on my own and disobeyed them. But in this way I would encourage everybody to do that. And many people are not so intelligent and disciplined as I, and they would often conclude that sth. is bad, when it isn’t. And then the whole system of principles would crumble. You forget that these rules are made for the good of all mankind. Thanks to them we save millions of people from monsters. These rules work for millenia and they do a great amount of good. Even if sometimes, due to some strange circumstances, something bad will happen, like Rukia’s execution, you can’t compare it with this great good they always do. So it is of utmost importance that I keep to them and so preserve them for the future”.
I: Ok… But did he really defend the rules? Or just what he thought were the rules? I mean, the orders were not in fact genuine; it was Aizen who gave them.
M: That’s a good one… Hmm, I think he was defending the rules.
I: Why? What rules? Do whatever the butterfly says? Is this the principle?
M: Well… of course, that’s not all. But yes, part of the rules is that you should obey the orders you get.
I: But that is crazy. You should make sure that the orders are genuine. Byakuya didn’t do it and so he did not really followed the rules.
M: No. The law doesn’t make provisions for sceptical doubts. You just assume that the orders you get are normally ok, and you should follow them. Imagine someone in the military, who gets the order to attack, but does not do it. Then in the court martial he says: “I got something what s e e m e d to be an order. But I didn’t k n o w whether it is a real order”. C’mon, this would not work.
I: So the rule is something like: “obey what seems to be a normal order”.
M: yes, something like that.
I: But that’s just like Nazis. They “just followed the orders”, when in fact they were bad, and not even really lawful.
M: Right, but here the investigation comes in. If you have doubts and you can investigate, you should do it. And Byakuya didn’t.
I: It seems he was in such a rush to kill Rukia and show that he keeps the rules.
I: So his fault is that he was too eager to keep the rules at all costs! He was too zealous.
M: that’s a very good point! yes, I think this shows very well something about Byakuya’s character. He knows that he is an example for others; and he is very eager to show that. yes…
This ended this part of our talk which continued on well into that night…