In January of this year, I wrote about my concerns regarding what was happening to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America; most notably, erosion of freedom of speech and the level of intolerance among most university campuses toward those whose political opinions deviate from their own liberal views.
Today, I’d like to share my thoughts on the Second Amendment. The essence of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
For the first few decades since arriving in the United States from Japan as an adult immigrant, I never understood the Second Amendment – especially in view of innocent lives being lost, every year, due to senseless shootings. Since then, however, ever so gradually, my stance on the Second Amendment changed 180 degrees. Put another way, I went from “I don’t understand this madness” to “Now, I understand why the Second Amendment is so important.” Let me explain.
First, it needs to be clarified that comparing American society with that of Japan is like comparing apples to oranges. In other words, due to huge cultural differences, what works in one country is highly unlikely to work in another. My view point has changed over the years because, more than anything else, attaining personal “freedom and independence” has always been very important to me. In fact, this was the driving force behind every action I have taken throughout my life since childhood. My parents, who obviously knew me better than anyone else, did everything they could to delay my eventual departure from the country until such time when they knew there was no stopping me any longer.
The Japanese society is unique in that it is a controlled society – in wonderful ways, for the most part. What is in the best interest of the entire society is considered far more important than individual freedom, wants, or needs. Therefore, in Japan, a rule, such as gun control, which benefits the overall society, works beautifully.
Homogeneous culture that is Japan
You have probably heard of Japan as having one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Have you ever wondered why? The population in Japan, for the most part, is homogeneous and the educational system instills in every student what is right and wrong. I cannot speak for how things may or may not have changed since when I was in school but what follows are how it used to be.
- From first grade through high school, the topic every child learned first thing every Monday morning was ethics. That is well over 500 hours for every single Japanese student during their formative years. Through ethics, it was drilled into every one of us how to be respectful of others. Essentially, ethics classes were all about specific examples of how to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Yes, it is not unlike the Christian philosophy, mixed, of course, with strong Asian influence, such as “Be respectful of the elders.”
- Even more than severe penalties that would ensue through the legal system, the sense of bringing shame to the entire family makes most people think twice before choosing to commit a crime.
Heterogeneous culture that is the U.S.A.
In terms of its composition, the population of the United States of America is at the opposite end of the spectrum from that of Japan; i.e., it is heterogeneous. It is made up of people from all over the world. Especially for those of us who are first-generation immigrants, there is one core theme that binds us all. That is, we all came here in search of a better life than what we had left behind. Most of us wanted our children to have a better environment in which to grow up. What follows are my observations of the American society and why the Second Amendment is crucially important.
- As its founding history shows, the United States of America is all about individual freedom from oppressors, whether it be king, government, or dictators.
- To the extent that we all came from various parts of the world, what does bind us as Americans is through the understanding of “human nature” regardless of race, religion, national origin, or whatever else that may define each individual’s cultural background.
- One of the most dangerous elements of human nature is that absolute power, if and when attained, corrupts absolutely.
- In countries where dictators rose to power, guns were made illegal. Only military and police were allowed to have firearms, making the general population easier to control.
Given the human history, the Second Amendment not only makes perfect sense but is essential. It helps deter abusive acts by those who may rise to positions of power. Think Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, and Adolph Hitler, just to name a few. If these historical facts – of human nature at its worst – do not convince you as to what is at stake and why the Second Amendment is of vital importance, I don’t know what would.