International Relations in a Small Town

International Relations in a Small Town


Thirty years ago I was entertaining an international public relations friend from Japan. After our supper together the news came on an interrupted our pleasant conversation and evening.

There had been a mass shooting in a McDonalds in California. It was one of the early assaults on our society and nation.

It directed our polite, cordial and casual conversation towards this seemingly new phenomenon
In our nation.

My dinner friend was a man groomed in Japanese society. He was groomed to be dignified, self conscious
And thoughtful. He was the essence of polite conversation and communication. He worked for a Japanese global/international company as a spokes person.

I queried my Japanese friend about how he viewed the gun violence in our society, I wanted outside perspective, perspective other than my own and the society in which I dwell.

He must have felt comfortable enough with our friendship that he expressed himself without the trappings of his culture and without reservation.

His demeanor became unleashed and he grinned with some annoyance at my simple question. He stated the following;

“Americans seem to want to get all concerned when their citizens are getting murdered.

You seem to go though all sorts “philosophical gymnastics” trying to address your problem and yet you don’t stare the simple problem straight in the face.”

In Japan, “Nobody gets killed in my country, we don’t have guns”.

“You have far too much access to guns they are every where in your society.”

Most of your senseless killings occur because of easy access. You have a gun in every house, in every bedroom drawer and in the moment when things get out of control you easily grab a gun and then regret fills your life.

“Your question to me is meaningless , unless you are honest and address the availability that all of your citizens have to lethal weapons.”

….Our cordial evening meal got quite a bit more quiet and uncomfortable.

Thirty years later I can still hear his words and reflect on his insights.

I count my own personal “gun incidents” I count the number of killings that have affected our lives and lives of friends.

We seem to be willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of men women and children each year in my country and now I can multiply that times… 30 years.
My friend from Japan knows nothing of gun violence.

He has never had to send “thoughts and prayers” to any of his countryman.

I was in the U.K. when Malala was flown into Birmingham with her horrendous gunshot head wound.

I was in a Tucson grocery store parking lot noticing the perimeter of flowers and realized Gabby Giffords had been shot here a few days before.

I too have, more than once been on the other end of a gun.

I still feel the annoyance of my Japanese friend for me asking such a meaningless question.

If we live in a society that enjoys the availability of hand guns and assault rifles.

We deserve every death and should recognize that it is the price we pay for enjoying this curious sacrificial blood sport.

…….And I still feel bad for provoking my friend from Japan

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