I travel quite a bit with my wife. These are just short trips to nearby cities here in Japan, but they’re really invigorating. One of the things I noticed a short time after beginning these excursions was that we found a lot of people over 50 along the way.
In temples and mountains, sanctuaries and large parks, I’ve found mainly older people – armed with their cameras and wearing comfortable clothes for climbing or walking long stretches. This brought back memories of Cuba, where most elderly people, with their sad faces and few expectations, end up exercising in neighborhood parks or homes for the poor.
But before giving any opinion, I asked to my wife why so many older people and so few youths are seen enjoying the beautiful things of Japan. After 10 months here, I understand the answer she gave me those first few days.
Here, youth seem to live with a guarantee of a tranquil old age. The assurance is constant work. They think only about work: how to get it, how to keep it, how to secure their position in it, how to ensure getting another job if they lose the one they have.
Their entire active life revolves around these concerns. As a result, people become exceedingly efficient in her jobs, but also tense, less communicative, and almost robot like. It goes on this way, like a deferment of life, until they reach old age, when they put down their weapons and finally strike a peace accord after not losing the struggle to always have a good job.
A while ago I saw a documentary titled “Daddy, Buy Me a Kalashnikov,” which spoke of the ease with which one could carry weapons in the United States. In it, several of the interviewees repeated the astonishing and questionable notion that guns are not dangerous – only the people behind them.
I don’t believe that or that the sanctity of people is corrupted by the power of arms or other vices. There is a constant relationship of feeding. In this relationship the person themself is potentially already a weapon, willing to kill or be killed.
Everywhere, people feel the proximity of a gun compelling them to regulate their behavior. Weapons are now so ubiquitous in our lives that we’ve learned how to run the risk of living with them, and some people even see this as a game.
While I continuously struggle against weapons, others appear more subdued, approaching their temple with loaded barrels. Weapons carry the stamp of capitalism, socialism, Christianity and other more modern “isms.”
Then how do we rid ourselves of this threat? You will have to find the answer by yourself. I only know that I have to have the courage to continue questioning with the hope that at least one day my son will tell me, “Daddy, don’t buy me a Kalashnikov.” Where is the end of this enduring war?