- Politics and Social Issues
Really need a gun? Being Happy and Right Livelihood
Do you feel you need one of these to be safe?
Are you part of the solution or the problem?
It is reputed that when Siddhartha Gautama - better known as the Buddha - was alive there was much discussion by him about 'Right Livelihood.' The Buddha advocated it. Right livelihood, or otherwise, refers to one's work actions as being supportive of, or deleterious to, Humanity's happiness. Do these actions add to, or detract from, the Common Weal? Do they make for happiness right across the whole breadth of humankind? Or do they make for its opposite, unhappiness? I wonder how many people in the world ever ask themselves these questions.
Even national leaders are still thinking in terms of 'them and us.'
I deliberately made that statement - "right across the whole breadth of humankind," for a very good reason. That reason being that many people feel that if they're contributing to the happiness of their family...and to hell with the rest, then their 'right livelihood' is right. Others, being of a slightly more generous nature, feel that contributing to their immediate circle of family and friends and, once again, "to hell with the rest." are doing the right thing. And so it expands outwards to: 'Doing the right thing for my town's people, my city's people, my state, my country (right or wrong) But there is always some exclusion. There is always some "them and us, line of demarcation. I recall how disappointed I was hear President John Kennedy say, in his inaugural address to the nation back in the 1960s:
"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." Even John Kennedy could not think beyond America. Had he substituted the word 'world.' for 'country,' I'd have been far more impressed.
You're a target shooter...when did you last practice?
Oh, you can say, what about the target-shooting sportsman? Well, if they are serious target-shooting sportsmen they will have a particular type of handgun designed especially for that. Often this is a single shot, very heavy barrelled, rather cumbersome shooting device. It is not one of the myriad types of hand-gun I am referring to here. You, the reader have seen these weapons displayed often enough to know what I'm on about. There's no point in hiding behind semantics.
Concealable handguns are made to shoot bullets into human bodies
So I am writing about 'right livelihood' that helps everyone in the world in some way - or at least does not detract from it. In other words if it doesn't help be it at least neutral in its effects on the world at large. This is tolerable if not a blessing. Neutral work does not harm.
Let us take a particular type of work and examine whether or not it helps or detracts from the sum total of human happiness. The example I present is the Handgun Market. And let us be clear what I mean here. I'm talking about revolvers, automatic pistols. - weapons. By this I mean they are deliberately manufactured as weapons. Unlike a knife or a baseball bat, which can be used for - and are generally used for - the purposes for which they were made, yet can be used as weapons, the hand-gun is deliberately made as a weapon. It is made so it can shoot bullets into people's bodies!
Are you knowingly 'aiding and abetting?'
Now, if you are manufacture the iron, then the steel that goes into the handgun manufacture and work in a plant which makes iron or steel - and you do not know what that steel is going to be used for - then your livelihood is a right one. Fabricating iron and steel gives added value. However, if you knowingly transport that steel to the gun-manufacturer, then you are 'aiding and abetting' the manufacture of something which is not a right livelihood. You're contributing to suffering.
Look to the 'end product' and the intent
In fact if you work in the hand-gun factory in any capacity you are not in a right livelihood. Yes, even if you're a safety officer or the resident nurse or first-aid official. By being there you are supporting what is going on there. By supporting, you are enabling in some small way for the manufacture and distribution to continue. So, what I am saying here is that if your actions in any way help in the production and use of a hand-gun, then your livelihood is not conducive to the sum total of human happiness. The manufacture is done because it is expected the guns can be used. They can be used - and we know they often are - to injure, maim and kill other human beings.
Firearms for 'personal protection' exasperate the problem
You could say, "This pistol was made and bought so a family could protect themselves." This is the old 7th Amendment in the United States Constitution - the right to bear arms (which came into existence when a still hostile Britain and France and lots of Red Indian tribes probably made it at that time seem a reasonable inclusion. But take a look at today's USA and you'll see how foolhardy this interpretation of handgun ownership is. "Twenty times as many shootings as any other advanced nation on earth," according to a recent speech by United States President, Barack Obama. Are you contributing in any way to that?
What is more ignoble than the armaments industry?
How much more horrendous towards that sum total of human happiness is the Armaments Industry! Everything in it and about it is designed to keep fragmenting the world into 'goodies and baddies.' The 'goodies' are always us, of course. The 'baddies' are always them. Their 'baddies' are, of course, us.
We deplore illicit and illegal gun-runners. Oh, how wicked! Yet our own government representatives joyfully sell armaments to other people all over the world. In World War Two, for example, the Bofor Anti-aircraft gun was being used by both the Allies and the Axis Powers. This particular gun manufacturer was making millions out of the suffering of others - hardly a "right livelihood," would you agree?
As far as 'right livelihood' is concerned, they're only part of the problem
But the Armaments Industries right around the world are only a part of the problem. There are other industries, or careers and vocations, which add nothing to the sum total of human happiness. Nearly all criminal activities fall into the negative category. There may be some that do not, but I cannot think of any off hand. However, a lot of activity which is not deemed criminal moves us into suffering rather than happiness. We know, for example, that cigarette smoking in the long term is a killer for millions of people worldwide. Yet there are still farmers who, without the slightest conscience, grow tobacco. Others collect and distribute it. Others still sell it. And others, too, advertise it. Are these livelihoods adding to the sum total of human happiness? Of course not.
People are still helping others to smoke their way to their deathbeds
There could well be some specious argument about, "That's how we raise taxes." Yeah. But do the taxes outweigh the enormous cost of human suffering, the cancers, the emphysema, the billions of dollars spent to treat or attempt to cure those who have smoked their way to their deathbeds?
Another ploy often used by all of us is: "Well, if I don't do it someone else will." We're responsible for our own actions, not other people's. That sort of rationalization doesn't cut it.
Selling the impossible dream and making big money out of it
Then take a look at the Gambling Industry -the encouragers of dreams about being able to 'get something for nothing.' The Gambling Industry particularly battens upon the addictions of those who cannot control a gambling urge. Often they promote it. Just watch Television. At the time of writing, here in Australia, there are no fewer than eight companies encouraging people to 'Bet with us.' To my way of thinking such industries do not contribute to the sum total of human happiness, they detract from it. Ask those who have to pick up the pieces of broken homes, heart-ache, despair and even suicides and murders, that result from rampant gambling addictions which cannot be controlled.
How long would the 'Sport of Kings' last without gambling?
What does the Gambling Industry actually contribute that is positive? One wonders, for example, how much interest there would be in horse racing if no one could bet money on the results of horses racing around a track. I suspect the 'Sport of Kings,' would die in six months if people could not wager on the likelihood of a winner. How many grey hounds would not have to be 'put down,' because they don't measure up as racing dogs?
To reiterate, what does the Gambling (They never use that word, by the way. It has now become The Gaming Industry) contribute long term towards the overall happiness of human beings? My opinion: practically zilch. They rake in the money whilst those who gamble end up in long term loss.
Does betting contribute to, or detract from happiness long term?
And the gamblers themselves - are they adding to the common weal. Does their energies devoted to selecting and placing bets add greater or lesser value to the sum total of human happiness? I'll leave that up to you to decide, but I know what I think on the matter. It's energy wasted.
Okay, I've probably already upset enough people. Oh, and if you are upset, then I could have hit a 'conscience-nerve' somewhere. I do not apologise. But I now change the subject to those who definitely do contribute to human happiness and in a big way.
Let's look at those who do make a positive difference
Those people who deliberately choose to undertake work they feel in their hearts is helping to improve the quality of other's lives are at the top of my list of 'right liveliness-doers.' These are our exemplars of how we should all behave. Those in the medical, teaching, and emergency-response professions, for example. We all admire the dedicated doctor, especially those who are willing to go to remote areas and volunteer their services. The Doctors Without Borders, the Florence Nightingales and Fred Hollows of this world. Also, here is Australia, the countless numbers of State Emergency Services (SES) people, the Volunteer Bushfire Fighters, the members of the myriad volunteer organisations dedicated to helping others. And admired virtually by all, the great teachers of human behaviours such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela in his later year years.
Are you a part of the problem? Or part of the solution?
Where do you fall between those who contribute greatly to the sum total of human happiness and those who detract from it? Be honest. Think about it. Feel it. Don't rationalise it away with platitudes and excuses. In making the whole world better, are you a part of the problem, or part of the solution? And deep down...how do you really feel about it? It's a question that can only be answered from your own heart.