Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cats, Swords, Sticks, Guns

In Medieval Europe, a terrible plague once threatened to wipe humans from the map. The humans did their best to help it happen too. See the plagued was caused by a flea, which thrived on rodents. the people of the time, driven by inaccurate data, concluded that cats were the cause. And went on a cat killing spree. The reduction in the cat population, meant fewer predators for rats, who then flourished, and the fleas along with them. You'd think we'd be smarter now, but instead we seem to have made cat killing an art.

A lifetime ago, I had a martial arts instructor who trained in Okinawa. He shared some interesting history with me. At the time, the sword was king. And the Japanese had mastered the craft. The Japanese Katana was a truly formidable weapon. The blade was a springy steel, which would flex, readily, making it less prone to breaking. They would bury the blade in the sand, leaving only the cutting edge exposed. This would harden the edge, while preserving the flexibility of the rest of the blade. the hardened portion could then be honed to an extremely sharp cutting edge.

A skilled swordsman could use the Daito (long sword) to disable a horsed opponent with a single stroke, severing the front legs of the horse and toppling the rider. The shoto (short sword) was equally lethal.

The okinawan commoners were not allowed swords by law. The leaders of the time banned weapons to prevent insurrection. If your soldiers are armed and your peasants are not... So the Okinawan commoners improvised. Farm tools became weapons. Okinawan tradition holds that the Tonfa and Nunchaku were both tools used for threshing grain, beating rice kernels open. Both were adapted to the purpose of combat. Either is capable of delivering a fatally skull crushing blow.

And of course every civilization has used the stick (Quarter Staff, Bo Staff, sharpen one end and call it a spear, lance, or javelin...) when no other option was available.

People who wish to do violence have always found the means to do so, whether by stick, car, plastic knife, or diesel and fertilizer.

Today's cat of choice seems to be the firearm. It is all over the news. One group points out the many recent tragedies. Another holds up statistics showing an increase in crime after gun control laws have been implemented in other countries. And everyone argues about guns.
And everyone ignores the fleas. The problem isn't the piece of metal, the explosive material, the blade, or the stick. The problem is the action. More fundamentally, the problem is the thought which led to that action.

That is where the focus should be. You want to fix violence? Fix that.

Here are a few hints:

Personal Responsibility/Accountability
Highly Available, Accurate Information
Learned Selflessness

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