The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for 2009 list 10,224 homicides [in U.S.] that involved a gun [...] Mamoru Suzuki of Japan's National Research Institute of Police Science e-mailed us that there were seven gun murders in Japan during 2009. For the United Kingdom and Germany, we had to extrapolate, taking firearm murder rates per 1,000 people, then, using population statistics, calculate the number of firearm murders. The data, from a United Nations survey of crime trends, cover 1998 to 2000, the most recent available for firearms deaths. We found that the United Kingdom had 63 firearm murders, and Germany had 381. Experts we consulted said the figures sounded about right.I think, however, it is bigger than just guns. The United States has one of the most stressed populations in the world, which stems, in large part, from the worship of greed. The worship of money is one of the major poisons to our peace of mind that Buddha warned against. It breeds class resentment having to work longer hours for less pay because of greedy bosses. It fuels anger, which never leads to anything beneficial. It also creates stress for families, while at the same time government is cutting health care benefits that include mental health care.
Other countries invest in their workers, so that they can focus more time with their families and each other; such a policy reduces stress and makes for happier people, happier workers. And that means a less violent society. They have a better social safety net to catch and help the most needy individuals deal with mental trauma, that if left untreated, can lead to disastrous results.
I am a firm believer in meditation, and I think it would greatly help Americans reduce stress. I know it does because it helps me, and I suffer from a psychiatric disorder. It's a wonderful way to deal with anger, as well. Perhaps if we taught a secular version of meditation to our kids in school, they'd have some tools to help them deal with the stress and complicated emotions of youth, without having to resort to violence. If our police officers knew how to meditate then perhaps they'd be better able to handle the stress of such a job. Imagine a less stressful job-place if companies did morning meditations for about 10 minutes each day before work!! Perhaps it would prevent people from being over-worked until they mentally snap and show up with a gun to work.
The Buddhist teaching of oneness is also helpful in preventing violence. If we can realize that we are one with all beings then compassion for others is easier to realize. It's harder to hurt (either verbally or physically) someone that you see as apart of you. If can learn to see one another as apart of us, rather than as competitors, then patience is easier to achieve, which helps reduce the chances of conflict arising.
Then there is the Buddhist idea of attachment. When we attach to the idea of ourselves being separate and apart from others, it breeds selfishness and disdain for people not like ourselves. Attachment leads to an unending cycle of "wants" which propel us to justify anything in the name of trying to satisfy the "hungry ghost" of the ego. In turn, we resent people who have what we want, and that poison can eat away at our sense of morality until we blame others for our perceived lack of happiness. And, just like in war, once the violence begins it breeds further violence from retaliations and so on.
All of these issues, and more, must be apart of the solution. No one issue can solve the epidemic of violence in American society. Tighter gun laws are needed, yes, but we need a holistic approach encompassing numerous reforms in vast and diverse areas of modern life. We need to teach our children not to bully fellow students. Bullying in schools leads to rage, depression and isolation. That kind of harassment can easily lead them to commit violence either against themselves or others. We can no longer pretend that such problems don't affect us. As Buddha proved, interconnection demands we pay attention to the troubles of others. By ignoring them, we might delude ourselves but sooner or later we will suffer the consequences, too.
~i bow to the Buddha within all beings~