At the time when there was a council concerning the promotion of a certain man, the council members were at the point of deciding that promotion was useless because of the fact the man had previously been involved in a drunken brawl. But someone said, “If we were to cast aside every man who had made a mistake once, useful men could probably not be come by.  A man who makes a mistake once will be considerably more prudent and useful because of this repentance. I feel that he should be promoted. “ 

Someone then asked, “Will you guarantee him?” 

The man replied, “Of course I will.” 

The others asked, “By what will you guarantee him?”


And he replied, “I can guarantee him but the fact that he is a man who has erred once. A man who has never once erred in dangerous.” This said, the man was promoted. 

-From Tsunetomo’s Hagakure 

This passage struck me more than any other passage in Hagakure. It reminds us that a person who has made their mistakes and learned from them can be even more valuable than someone who has never made a mistake at all. Often in the SCA we get so focused on the mistakes of someone’s past that we can’t see the strides and improvements they have made in their lives. We are all human and we all have mistakes in our past that we would correct if we were able. A person who has learned from the mistakes of their past brings with them life experience, prudence, and an insight into themselves that someone who has never made a mistake can not have. And, as we are all only human, if you have never made a mistake in your life it is probably highly likely you will only have mistakes waiting for you in your future.  

The key is however that one learns from the mistakes of their past.

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