swords into plowshares My life partner is Japanese, and each time we are confronted with news of a shooting claiming the lives of    innocent people, he says that he cannot understand the United States preoccupation with guns. For him, and the rest of society born after World War Two, Japanese culture is a society raised to see the use of firearms as something repugnant to civilization. In Japan, no one would think of owning a gun let alone shooting it for pleasure, hunting or violence. This ideal stems from the lessons learned from a time when warmongers attached significance within a deep rooted ideal forged by aggressive confrontational nationalism.

Like many who have followed the story breaking from CSUSB, we have listened to anguished parents search for answers as to why their children were murdered, and how an obviously disturbed young man could easily purchase weapons and ammunition used to inflict harm upon innocent victims.

When murders of this magnitude take place, the cry for solutions is clear and normally pointed towards legislators, and their inability to pass laws or ordinances to make it more difficult for these types of atrocities to occur. People wonder why an obviously distraught and mentally ill individual would be allowed to purchase weapons. Clearly there is room for thoughtful and direct legislation, but these types of laws can’t and won’t lead society to the promise of transformation.

Like the Japanese, transformation begins with the realization that we, as a people, are no longer interested in firearms as a means toward our identity as individuals and a nation. Transformation begins when we realize that freedom is more than an opportunity for self-indulgence and that self-indulgence brings about confrontational nationalism. Freedom allows us to look toward the common good and safety of our neighbors. Freedom means that we realize when one person bites and devours another, we risk falling into a mindset which will eventually devour and consume each other as enemies.

As we point the finger at others, let us begin by holding up a mirror to look at ourselves. Do we seek good or evil? If we seek good, how can we as a people transform a nation consumed with guns into a nation consumed with offering help to our neighbors?

If we learn from Japan, we could uplift our nation in two generations, but only if we decide we must and only if we are able to seek good over evil.