Life or death situations really put your life into perspective.
Let me back up. A few days ago was my sister’s birthday, and I was sent to pick up the pizza. Safe enough errand, right? There was a time when I believed that too.
As I was walking towards my car, I heard shouting. Now, this guy used some… colorful language, so I’m going to replace some of his favorite words with the names of cute animals. “You [puppy]!” he shouted. “You’re going to eat that whole [kitty] pizza yourself?! Who the [hamster] do you think you are?!”
It took me a second to realize he was shouting at me. When he started walking over, I sort of panicked. He was mumbling to himself, out of his mind. A million thoughts filled my head. I was wondering if I should run, or if I could possibly defend myself with a pizza in my hands. I started thinking back to my karate classes I took as a little kid, but I couldn’t remember a thing. I only got to yellow belt anyway. Why did I stop at yellow belt?!
In the end, I just froze. He looked at me with bloodshot eyes, scratched his beard, and walked away, yelling at some other random guy who ordered a pizza.
Okay, so maybe I wasn’t in any real danger–but I could have been! If this guy really wanted to fight, and if he had a weapon, you would be hearing on the news right now about the sixteen-year-old boy who was murdered for a pizza.
Perhaps, we’re just not as safe as we think we are. In September, the World Bank and FBI conducted a research study to compile a list of the safest countries in the world. Japan was #1, Taiwan was #2,… US was #88. Its crime rate variable was 53.44, officially designating it as a “high risk location to live.” Granted, some areas are more dangerous than others in the US, but the fact that there are 87 countries safer than ours is still shocking.
The current US plan for dealing with crime, is giving harsh punishment–usually considerably more jail time than the time in Western Europe and other parts of the world. However, new research, from ETH Zurich using a computer model of crime, suggests that more drastic consequences do little — if any — to lower crime rate.
The US has the largest prison population in the world but is still very dangerous relative to other first world countries. It seems that the giving harsher punishments has only succeeded in crowding prisons.
Crime still thrives, and if we really want to do something about it, I think we should take it to the source; we could start with the two biggies: gun control and drug abuse.
I could write a whole article about gun control, but I’ll try to keep this short. Americans love their guns. There’s no way the second amendment will be taken away completely, but we should at least regulate who we’re handing out guns to if we want mass shootings to stop being daily news.
Many gun advocates point to Switzerland and Israel as examples of the right to bear arms thriving, but in truth, as Ezra Klein of the Washington Post points out, both countries are very strict in regards to gun control. Switzerland and Israel both require a specific reason to own a gun, and every six months, gun owners are up for reevaluation to make sure that the reason still applies. Because of this, neither country suffers from the same violent gun orgy that plagues the US.
As for drug abuse, we should take heed of Portugal’s new experiment. In the 90s, Portugal was suffering from an epidemic of drug use during which one in one hundred people suffered from severe drug addiction. Then thirteen years ago, it tried something that no country has tried before: treating drug use as a sickness rather than a crime.
Under this new policy, people in possession of large amounts of drugs continue to be prosecuted as dealers, while those in possession of small amounts are sent to rehab and drug treatment centers. Nothing goes on record for the first offense, and the money saved on prison expenses is used to help people become sober. Despite drug use rising in Europe — and the whole world, — Portugal has already charted a decrease in drug use among its teenagers.
The US used to look at other countries for guidance. Our Constitution and government structure is entirely based on the Enlightenment thinkers of Western Europe. If we could just continue to heed what works for other countries, at least in regards to gun and drug control, maybe we wouldn’t have to balance this dangerous #88 on our heads.
Till then, be careful out there. Don’t go out for pizza alone at night. Try to avoid drug-crazed hungry guys.
And you may want to brush up on your karate.