Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I Like Japan... Guns

It's amazing to me how much cooperation there is between people in Japan.  Things that we would sue someone over in America are common policy here.  I could give many examples, but right now I'm talking about the "training period" of school children.

Imagine if, in America, the school system told your 12-year-old that they were not allowed to carry spending money.  That's one thing that happens here in public junior high schools and it's part of the process of teaching children how to have a healthy lifestyle, especially in regard to healthy eating.  They are not allowed to buy food out at a convenience store without a parent there, so nothing before or after school.  They can buy drinks from the school vending machines only at lunch time.  Kids and everyone do eat a lot of junk food anyway, but they must be doing something right cause the majority of people are pretty thin.  Japanese people definitely eat smaller portions in meals and snacks.  I get frustrated that cookies are all individually wrapped, cause you have to do a lot more work to eat a package of cookies.  

I learned about this because I was giving out candy canes in class.  I am allowed to give out whatever in high school, but now I teach junior high as well.  I had heard of the rule about no candy or cookies in class, but I asked the teachers I was working with and they said it was ok.  The chief teacher of the junior high 3rd graders (equivalent to 9th grade in America), told me I couldn't give out candy canes.  I wasn't in trouble or anything, I just had to cease my contribution to cavities and obesity.  

In Japan, I regularly experience common things that might get someone fired in America:  Teachers have made boys shave their head as punishment, students are sometimes whacked, and students are admonished if they do anything to their appearance that isn't "natural," such as plucking their eyebrows too thin.    

Honestly, I like the way Japan does it.  Should I get in trouble for giving a pesky student a wet willy?  I say, "Nay."  Should a playground be taken out because a kid broke his head while using the equipment improperly or without a parent?  Of course not!  In Japan, it's your own dang fault.  Be more careful next time.  Take responsibility for yourself and your children, and stop placing blame where it doesn't belong.

A looooot of people complain about Japanese society and customs and I know that plenty of people would disagree with my sunshiny descriptions of how things are.  I think we've all got good points.  The truth for me is that when I take the good and the bad, I think Japan has a really good thing going where tiny kids can walk to school on their own, people can afford to go to the doctor, and when I drop a glove, I can go back and find it waiting for me on the nearest ledge, where someone has kindly placed it.

I think this is a society of little crime because people are genuinely considerate and respectful.  Of course it doesn't go for everyone in the whole country, but generally people are very polite and have positive thoughts and feelings about other people.  People act with what I describe as a combination of minding their own business and giving others the benefit of the doubt.  On the road one time I was driving with a teacher and another driver whizzed by and came too close and she said, "He must really need to be somewhere."  She wasn't being sarcastic.  I think the prevalent attitude in America is thinking the worst of people and the prevalent attitude in Japan is thinking better of people. 

People think it's wrong to regulate the sizes of sweetened drinks in NY.  People are free to endanger their own health, right?  You might say, "One big drink won't ENDANGER my health!"  People should be free to drink as many ounces of sugar as they want, right?  What I'm saying is that in America we have a nice lifestyle, but we are by no means "free."  I mean c'mon, you can't even run down the street in your birthday suit, the way the gods put you into this world, without getting fined or imprisoned. And a woman can't walk through a parking lot at night without fear and perhaps her keys and a can of mace in hand.  That's not freedom.  That's a prison of fear.  We have to wear seat belts by law.  We're not allowed to carry knives over 6 inches long.  Our behavior is governed for us in all walks of life in the name of crime prevention and public safety.  Now it has come to food.  In the name of a public health crisis in America, I don't think it's a bad idea.  It's definitely not outside of the range of laws and confinements we have already accepted as a nation. 

I just came across this extremely interesting info about the brain and more specifically, behavioral evolution. 

About humans

In the link's article, the author talks about how the brain changes with behavior, and how those changes in turn affect behavior.  I think it makes sense at least that our perception of things change with experience.  

I'd like to apply that way of thought to the gun issue at hand right now in the US.  If we the people have become desensitized to gun violence enough that there is a shooting in the national news every day, if our perception of what a gun is has changed, if our thoughts about what we can or might do with a gun and how many shootings and in what circumstances are acceptable have changed, then something about the guns or their availability has to change too.  People say that a pen doesn't cause a novel.  It doesn't, but it makes a novel much more likely to be written.  People say that McDonald's doesn't make people fat.  It doesn't, but the people who choose it are more likely to be fat.  It's a fact that a few ruin things for the whole, and plenty of laws were written from that place.  We have come to that place with guns.  Some people just don't lock up their guns and babies die.  Some people are crazy and kill.  They have ruined the "right" to have guns.  In my admittedly not so humble opinion, guns need to go the way of trans fats.  Just because more people scream louder about keeping guns around, doesn't mean they should be kept.

I would like to see a movie about a world where only women with children under 18 are allowed to have guns, and the guns have an automatic key code built in, like an iPhone.  Someone should get on that, cause the one thing that moves me is the argument for women's self defense. 

What I do know is that a huge gun movement in Australia was successful in decreasing gun violence.  People offered up their guns, traded them in, and many guns were destroyed.  It worked for them.  What I also know is that guns themselves were different and America was different when the Bill of Rights was written.  I don't know what that says about the situation, but I think it's something to be considered.  And finally, since the Bill of Rights is the hinge here I think Americans should only be allowed to own the kind of guns that were made at the time it was written.  Enjoy shooting 4 rounds per minute as opposed to today's guns that can shoot 45 rounds per minute.  Here, sir, is your musket.

From Japan,


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