In his exceptional 2004 book, A Terrible Love of War, psychologist James Hillman takes a six-page excursion to talk about Japan’s history with gun control, which I will summarize here.
Guns were introduced in Japan by three Portuguese ‘freebooters’ in 1543 after shooting a duck. Within six years, 500 guns had been ordered by a local lord; by 1575, they were a decisive battle weapon. The Japanese quickly became masters of firearms; in the 16th century, the country boasted a population of 25 million, while England had not even five million residents. Yet by the time Japan opened its doors to international trade in 1853, there were no guns to be found.
While Hillman finds no definitive reason, here are his speculations:
Yet Hillman finds the most pressing reason to be archetypal and even aesthetic: the warriors had a tradition that they were denying with their clumsy dependency on guns.
It is more important for a person to maintain the aesthetic principles that hold the internal strength of the body’s force in harmonious balance by posture, place of hands, elbows, and legs than to lose this for the sake of the practicality of guns.
Guns, Hillman writes, were never banned in Japan; they simply faded away due to their ugliness and lack of candor. This changed again after opening trade in 1853, though gun violence remains at an incredibly low level in Japan.
Americans often talk about having the highest moral values and most aesthetic culture that influences many countries. Without debating the merits of this statement, this ‘manifest destiny’ is claimed by a large portion of citizens. If we really want such a thing to be true, getting rid of guns and the inevitable murders they bring—to other humans, as well as to animals of all stripes—we could actual create an aesthetic culture we’d be proud to spread.
While the desire to tax churches is not new, it seems as far from reality as possible at this moment. As has been commented, no atheist could possibly hope to win an election in today’s political climate—a freethinking man like Robert Ingersollwould have no influence with the majority of our electorate. Our cultural dependency on the necessity of faith is affecting our society: According to aUniversity of Tampa study, not taxing churches is taking an estimated $71 billion from our economy every year, and this fact remains largely unquestioned.
The general argument over why churches do not pay taxes goes like this: If there is a separation of church and state, then the state (or fed) has no right to collect money from the church. In exchange, churches cannot use their clout to influence politics. While this would seem to make for cozy bedfellows, it’s impossible to believe that none of the 335,000 congregations in the United States are using their resources for political purposes, especially when just last week the Kansas governor called for a ‘Day of Salvation‘ in his state.
Photo: Vieux Montreal 1899
In general, I avoid free literature thrown my way on subways and street corners. Recently passing by a stack of cheaply printed books while leaving Samosa House in Culver City, one caught my eye: Coming Back: The Science of Reincarnation. I pocketed a copy and walked through the door, interested to read the latest research in this slippery field.
Reincarnation is an attractive idea. That we only get one pass on this giant Ferris wheel can be cause for depression. Yet time and again, when exploring the numerous modalities of rebirth, from the law of karma to the hope of a better world beyond this one, we stumble into one glaring recurrence: By entertaining such philosophies, we inevitably waste valuable time wishing things here were different. Instead of changing our circumstances (or our attitude towards existence), we project our attention to some future destination.
Security is perhaps the most well-known illusion human beings have contrived. From the cursory seduction of emotional stability to the wrathful manifestation of raging armies, the painful longing for complete ease blankets our species. Somewhere along our evolutionary trail the quest for safety transformed into an unapologetic demand for protection, from foreigners as well as our own hearts, however errant a goal that might seem.
We’ve pawned the responsibility of security to a higher being through innumerable oblations: crops and virgins and tobacco and dances. In its modern presentation, security is to be achieved through belief—the power of intention, we are told, dictates the parameters for everything we experience. If we don’t feel secure, that is because we haven’t enough faith in the process of discovering our own innate greatness. No longer is our lack of security due to bloodthirsty deities; it is a personal failing that the world is not the haven we are destined to dwell inside of.
Photo: 7:54 am
One of the more disturbing elements of what has been a formidable push of activating yogis in the political sphere is this constant ‘oneness’ I keep seeing repeated. Julian Walker succinctly dealt with this issue, so I will not repeat his brilliant exposition on the topic. The point here is this: we are not one, in terms of ethics and moral values, how we carry ourselves in society and what we are trying to accomplish, or what we believe America should be, as a nation. This matter was further doused with rain water and patchouli yesterday when I saw this quote passed around from Marianne Williamson:
No matter who wins the election, we need a collective leap in consciousness in order to take our country and our world in the direction of peace and love.
I love that Williamson is engaging in some form of social activism and trying to lead a community she has been creating for decades into the political realm. But I don’t understand the strategy behind any of this. Let’s break it down bit by bit.