Gun Control Law and Civic Goodness

I was amazed hearing news saying that a 3D printing technology had been successfully used to produce a gun made from plastic. Moreover, the gun has also been successfully fired as reported by BBC news. 3D printing technology is indeed an outstanding accomplishment in this millennium era since it can be used to make something more real than a 2D printing technology. The advantage of having this printer is then people can print anything if the blueprints are available; and this achievement has been used to produce a gun.

This degree of accomplishment is just about six months after the tragedy happened in Connecticut, America when children and adults in a primary school were brutally attacked by an armed man entering the school. This bleak incident then ignited an unending debate about gun control in America and up until this point National Rifle Association in America (NRA) has absolutely rejected such a proposal since it will negate persons’ freedom. And when 3D printed gun technology has been introduced, what kind of policy that should be adopted in order to protect people’s freedom on one hand and also to ensure safety on the other?

Giving a gun

One kind of policy that had been proposed by NRA when the school incident happened was to arm security officer in the school rather than introducing a gun control law. The logic is when there is an armed strange comes to a school, security officers can actually handle the situation by firing the stranger. The proposal can be roughly summarized as: give a gun to the officer then everything will be back to normal.

Such logic is quite true. Security officers in any kind of place should actually be armed. This policy will be very useful because the officers should be held responsible for the safety of the people inside the building guarded by them. Thus, immobilizing an armed stranger should be conducted immediately without sacrificing others’ lives and this could be done by arming the officers.

But, how is about personal safety? Should people be allowed to buy a gun by rising a reason stating about ensuring their safety or personal freedom?

Giving a gun is indeed useful when the policy is applied in the right manner. A right manner then means that it should be owned by those who are responsible in ensuring safety. Such a policy cannot be then expanded into the realm of society as whole since it has something to do with civic goodness. And this value will be explained further below. Up to this point, what I do agree is giving a gun is indeed a right policy as long as it is applied in the right manner.

Civic goodness and gun control

At a first glance, it does seem that I do not agree if such policy is introduced for anyone in society as a whole. The preposition is absolutely right. What I do propose is indeed a gun control law that I do believe very useful in building a good society.

In his treatise Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes once says that there are three types of sources that actually can ignite a conflict: competition, diffident, and glory. Thus, in order to prevent a conflict, all parties involved in a possible conflict situation should lay their own ego and rights and then sign a contract stating that all of them agree that they will no longer engage in a conflicting situation in order to preserving others’ lives.

But, such a contract can be easily nullified when authority is not present. Thus, a state must be formed in order to hold the contract signed and thus have an authority to use its power when there is a party that does not obey the contract. In Hobbes’ logic, coercive power is legally used only by the authority in order to produce peace and hold the contract.

Thus, authority may have a legal power in using coercive power because its main responsibility is to keep the stable and peace condition inside the state. Furthermore, what is more important to note is: the presence of state becomes a statue to remind the conflicting parties that they have actually agreed that they will not use their coercive power in order to maintain peace. And in regard of gun control law, why should then people demand an ownership of a gun when it is actually the state that has the responsibility to preserving safety and preventing parties to engage in a conflicting situation?  

Many persons may then reply that “I do not sign any kind of contract. Why should I obey the law prohibiting me from owning a gun for my own safety?” The answer of such a question does not merely relies upon Hobbes’ logic of a state but also in regard of civic goodness that should be uphold in any kind of society.

In regard with gun control issue, what is important to note is a conflict that potentially happen when there is a stranger comes with his own gun or when we eventually in a condition that insists us to protect ourselves in order to prevent worse condition to happen. Such a conflict can be grouped into the second cause of conflict in Hobbes’ Leviathan since it can be considered as deterrence.

Having been said that such a conflict can be grouped as deterrence, it is important to be underlined that it is too a conflict triggered by insecure position of a party living in any kind of nation. But such an insecurity does not always mean insurmountable that will eventually lead to a personal owning of a gun. As a person living in a society, there is a strong need to build a civic goodness and it includes trust among its people: a value that actually lacks nowadays.

Such a conflict can be prevented if people trust each other. This can happen because there will be no suspicion among the people living in an area. Moreover, by applying trust, they can actually reciprocally guard each other since they know each other perfectly. Does it depict a good condition in a society that we do actually hope for? Is this condition better than living in a suspicious manner with your neighbor where every individual hold their own gun and ready to attack everyone who is considered as disturbing?

Gun ownership by individual will only strengthen a kind of individuality that is not actually needed in a society. I do not say that individuality is indeed bad for society. To some extent, individuality is required for competition. I just have an opinion that in this circumstance, namely living in a society, it is not that important for having a gun to protect yourself since it will lessen you relationship with your neighbor that actually acts as a strong binding agent in a society. Having a gun then means incentivizing deterrence-induced conflict and lessens the dependency among people that actually acts as a supreme value in society.

This will then raise a question about ensuring the safety for people living in a country. This condition can actually be achieved by strengthening the presence of state. The presence of the state in this manner does not mean that the country will develop into an authoritarian regime. This will only mean that there should be a guardian that will protect people so the peace treaty will always be upheld. Both of these conditions, gun control and strengthening the state presence, should not be considered as degrading human freedom. On the other hand, this should be done in order to preserve peace and ensuring a healthy freedom so people will not easily fire other when they see others as suspicious persons and then people can live in a healthy way of democratic regime.

Should we live in a country like in Mexico where everyone can afford gun in order to ensure their own safety and the state order is absolutely neglected? People and state should realize that they need each other. People should put their trust in government as supreme body to ensure their safety and government should not let its authority undermined by its absence in dire circumstances. Both of these elements should go hand in hand to build a better society.  


Love and Freedom: Talking About Building a Relationship in a Paternalistic Circumstance

First of all, I would like to thank Dwi Sasetyaningtyas for the ideas generated and conversation held so this writing can be eventually published. Though it was not a long conversation, it has brought new ideas and I would feel that there is something wrong if this idea and conversation is not published since I did felt the same way as she did when the conversation was taking place, namely about the circumstance lingering women in Indonesia, specifically, and across the globe, ultimately.

I realize that it is a quite rare situation for me to write about love in this blog but as I have said in my previous post: I will deliver all of you into a philosophical thinking rather than lingered with emotional one. Thus, spreading these ideas, generating what my thought about such a story is indeed a must.

The conversation began when she asked me: what is your definition about beauty and why do most of men will rather firstly consider women physically rather than, say, her inner beauty? In this regard, it would be a pity for a woman who is not beautiful enough to get a man attracted to her and thus lowering her possibility to get, say, a boyfriend or a qualified husband. And it will always be very advantageous to any kind of man since, regardless of his physical appearance, he can always try to get a woman who he wants without has to face significant constraints because he holds the starting point.

Following this logic, it is clear then what was considered in my conversation: that man should be a pioneer in any kind of love story since he should take initiative to attract woman. Women can only wait until an appropriate prince eventually comes to her.

I would not say that as a process of emancipation I should take a standpoint whereby woman will stand at the same podium as man; hence give an explanation that you, as a woman, have to stand and try to attract man as your emancipation process. Rather, as a man who is living in paternalistic circumstance, I would like trying to generate ideas based upon this nature before I choose to generate ideas about emancipation. Such an idea would be appropriate as a closure in this article so we will reflect the ideas in this process comprehensively.

Firstly, it is only about your appearance

If there is a question: why do most of men value women by her appearance, the same question does actually prevail for men: is it true that most of women will value man based upon his skill or his intellectual ability rather than his physical appearance?

Human beings are composed by their appearance (physical) and also by their inner strength and ability. Both of these realities cannot be separated each other. Physical appearance cannot be stripped of from inner strength and so does the opposite. Thus, if a man or a woman has only seen physical appearance of others, he/she does not actually see a whole of the body. They just look at the partial body of human beings. It will be equal to only justify the existence of face and hand when the other parts of body are covered by clothes. The problem is: we just justify based upon what is appear and have not yet known about who they really are.

A question then rises: is this situation normal? The answer is yes. Since the appearance of the body and the inner strength cannot be separated, human beings can only justify firstly by other’s appearance, regardless of the gender. That is why people can say: the man standing beside a red car is handsome; a woman who is jogging wearing her short pants is really sexy. This is absolutely normal since people can only judge by appearance and their valuation is merely based upon what they see: what is seen will become the first reality.

But as body is not only about physical appearance, it is absolutely wrong to only justify people by their appearance. Furthermore, people should also consider about other’s personality since it too becomes the part of other’s body.

A handsome man may have a temperament emotion and a sexy girl may have an improper attitude. Physical appearance then justifies nothing. Thus, having been said that it is normal to judge people by their appearance, you may easily predict about what of one of my friends had said a year ago: is the girl walking on the zebra cross crazy? How come such a beautiful woman gets a relationship with (sorry) an ugly man?

It will be seen abnormal if the condition is merely justified by physical appearance logic. But such a condition will be very normal if people realize that physical appearance is not the sole way to judge.

Though its normality, the ratio between judging by appearance and inner beauty is absolutely a matter of personal freedom. I would not like to justify every personal freedom in this writing but as an opinion I would like to say that as people grow old, they will actually have their body is becoming more vulnerable but as people develop their personality wholeheartedly, it will be last.

Hence, it is not the only problem of man of judging by physical appearance: this condition is absolutely normal since physical appearance is the first thing that appears when people are in contact with others.

Have a start? How about your finish?

The second question has something to do with starting a relationship. In Indonesia’s current circumstance, it is still taboo for a woman to take initiative for attracting man. Such women will be further considered as bitch. This is a cultural issue and culture is not that easy to be changed actually. But, let me give you an explanation about my simple thought about women’s position in such a relationship and then to take a correlation in regard with my first explanation about physical appearance.

Men, in current circumstance, may be bestowed with their position to take a start. The logic here: since you have a start, you have greater possibility to do anything you want and to attract as much women as you want. But, the reality says the opposite.

Attracting woman is not a matter like in a running competition: once you start to run, you are responsible to get the finish line; hence when you precede others on the start line, the more possible you will be a champion. Attracting woman is about man has a starting position and then running and they will not know how to finish it and when it will reach the finish line. Why can it be such that bleak?

It is because once a man starts to attract woman, either by his handsome face or his guitar skill, it is actually the woman who holds the finish line. One thing that should be underlined: a man may continuously give his best efforts to attract woman; but, when a woman does not respond to his effort, will he spend his rest of life to attract the woman?

My friend then asked to me: but you could see clearly that one of our friends does seem have that freedom, namely, bestowed by his position as a man, he can freely give his best efforts to attract many woman that he wants to. I then asked her back: if the women who are being attracted by this man do not respond, will he try to attract her restlessly?

The problem then relies not to the man itself who has a start but about how a woman places her finish line in regard with the man who is trying to subdue her heart. Thus, if people really want to think about this starting position, it is actually clear that it is not only women who wait for his prince to come, it is also about how a princess places a finish line for a prince; once there is no finish line for a prince given by a princess, the prince will spend the rest of his life waiting a princess to reply his effort.

Men may have a start, but will men always run restlessly once the finish line is already taken up?

Our freedom

A matter of love and attracting others are then a problem of freedom, regardless about on what culture that we are actually living. Once a man free to start attract woman, a woman then has a freedom to place a finish line. It will be seem very unfair if a man takes a start and also chooses his finish line. If most of people are convinced that love is actually a matter of reciprocal relationship, a process to get a relationship should also be such a process: a reciprocal and not individual, asking and replying.

Thus, how people relate this love, freedom, and physical appearance?

This is the true freedom bestowed by God upon mankind. Human beings have ratio that will always deliver them to choose between good and bad according to the evaluation process in their brain and conscience. In this regard, as I have said before, it is up to human beings as individual to choose others either based upon their physical appearance, their inner beauty or the combination between both of the aspects.

Thus, it should have not been a pity for a woman if she considers herself as not beauty as others as long as there are other aspects that will contribute to her strength and they actually have the power to not choose any kind of men considered inappropriate. The same way does also prevail for the handsome persons: even though they do seem have an advantage in making a starting position, it does not mean that they can finish it successfully. They can make a good start is a correct statement but at last it is the women who actually choose and locate the finish line. It then depends upon the freedom of women to choose and the freedom of men when considering to start attracting women. Physical appearance and inner beauty are values that are always present in such circumstance in order to make people think and consider rationally. A good person will then value not just a physical appearance. What is important: love is indeed a freedom to choose and also an act to be responsible about what you have chosen. Regarding this responsibility and marriage process have also been posted in this blog.

And there is still one question in regard of this topic: how if a woman who has fallen in love with a man and the man does not take initiative to start? In this circumstance, women are regarded to not have freedom in placing a finish line. In this respect, I would like to argue that aside having a freedom to say “finish,” women do also have a freedom to not let her heart being imprisoned. In this regard, women should have responsibility to choose between to stay with the man to take initiative or to let him go and open her heart for another person. Again, love is a matter of freedom, not only to a freedom to reply but a freedom to get released from imprisoned situation.

Lastly, in regard of emancipation, it is the opposite that will actually happen. A woman may have a start but it is a man who holds the finish line; hence it will be the same except the gender who holds the start and the finish line. Another difference that may arise also the amount of women who try to attract men since it will be very possible that it will reach equilibrium with the amount of men. Who knows?

Love is indeed a freedom and everyone is free to attract others, to reply other’s effort, and to release oneself from anxiety. And in this process, the value embedded may be based upon either physical or inner beauty. But one thing that is important to note: even though in this circumstance women often think that men are bestowed by their starting position, women must believe that they have also been bestowed by the finish line that they always hold. In this patrilineal circumstance, women do also have strength to break a man’s heart though his efforts do seem restless.

Men are not really that free and women are not actually that imprisoned.

Bangladesh Case: a Moment to Reflect Global Responsibility in a Globalized World

When I was writing this article, the death toll in a building collapsed happened in Bangladesh had reached 300 people and according to the several news that I had been listening to, it was predicted that the number would be very likely to increase.

A day before the incident happened, it was reported that there had been a warning for not entering the building due to the improper condition of the building. Unfortunately, such a warning was ignored and workers were then insisted to go to work as usual. And the bleak incident happened: the building collapsed, trapping many people within its debris.

Furthermore, when BBC journalist interviewed one of the ministers there, it was clear from the interview that there is a lack of self-awareness from building-owners to comply with safety procedure; hence contributing in an increasing of the possibility of building collapse incident. But, what I would like to write in this article is not about how to build a safe building. Rather, I would like to emphasize about another aspect of the incident: a global responsibility in a globalized world.

Globalization: free market and global responsibility

It is clear that the garment factories there are very important to drive the economy in Bangladesh. But, should the end justify the means? Should the safety aspects of the people be sacrificed in order to achieve the most probable profit? In this article, I would try to explain several things that I thought improper, not just for the building but about the system there.

As a matter of fact, it is also reported that in Bangladesh, many well-known label have used Bangladesh’s garment factories to produce their clothes. Just by giving their label, the price will increase significantly; hence giving much profit to the label-owners. In contrast, the workers who actually work to produce the clothes still face hard circumstances and also improper working condition. How could this actually happen?

This is the work of globalization and the free market. Once nations are becoming more borderless, companies are free to place the factory outside their origin country if the location can offer several advantages for the company. Gaining profit is then not that hard for such companies because investing in developing countries will automatically increase their income.  It can be so because it is often happened that such a country offers cheap labors in order to lift up their economic condition. The consequence is easy: since the companies should not have to pay high salary for the workers, their income will significantly increase. Both the parties are benefited: the company will gain more income and so does the country where the factories are placed.

Globalization is indeed a very good story if there is a mutual cooperation among the people involved, namely it is not just about the government and the company but also about the worker. If the workers in such countries are given basic health insurance, well-paid salary, and other benefits, it does seem fair and good. Moreover, it is not just about placing factories in a country but also about developing people and this section will be further explained below. 

But, the story of globalization can be very bleak if it cannot propose a proper scheme to protect the workers involved, as happened in Bangladesh. It does seem like a government and the companies who expropriate the workers in order to extracting cash to their own pocket. They cunningly utilize globalization without have any interest in developing people and acknowledge them not as humans but as slaves. Free market should also be a fair market but the reality often says the opposite.

This is why I would like to propose that globalization is indeed not only about free market but also about global responsibility. I was then remembered when I was in my third-year in my current study, I had asked a professor coming from Netherlands for giving a product engineering lecture: in a globalized world, what can be done by a pharmaceutical company to bear a responsibility once it has patented its invention that has something to do with endemic disease in a poor country, let say AIDS in Africa region? The answer was clear: the company can actually have a policy to compensate the price of the drugs so it will become more affordable for the people living in a region engulfed by poverty.

This is the condition that should actually be applied across the world. Companies can gain benefits by free market or by patenting their inventions in order to incentivize their hard-work and thus gain royalty. But there is still another important task that should be made: companies that are playing in a globalized world should also bear a responsibility about current events across the world, especially events that directly affect themselves. Hence, in Bangladesh case, renowned clothing companies that use the service of the workers there should also bear the responsibility. They can help workers in regard of curing them and give proper compensation for those who survive. 

But, this is not just about giving compensation. In the future, it should also deal with the sustainability aspect of the further project in order to avoid the same case to happen. They can appoint several experts in regard of building safety and also to ensure that the SOP is perfectly applied. They have also to regularly check the condition of the workers, building, and many other aspects to ensure that nothing is sacrificed just to extract more money from cheap labors.

Global responsibility is not only about how the works charged by a company are perfectly accomplished. As human beings, workers are also in need for appreciation and development. The workers should be trained and also well-paid and their career should also be promoted according to their capacity and capability. A company cannot hold the position of the workers for a long time without giving any hope to better future.

This is actually in line with the goals stated by United Nations in Millennium Development Goals. As poverty becomes the main concern in Millennium Development Goals, it is likely to place the burden on the companies playing in globalization and free market. Once they can penetrate the economy in a country, they actually have an opportunity to change the condition from poverty to prosperity instead of more impoverishing the country. And this can be done by investing it not just in capital expenditure but also to invest in human development program.

A Bangladesh case is indeed a good lesson for people across the globe that globalization is not only about free market and capitalism. Globalization should be made more inclusive by bringing in global responsibility as the mode to develop others and also as a moral responsibility that we do not utilize people to gain the best profits probable, as has been pointed out by Kant, a renowned philosopher: human beings cannot be used as means to justify any kind of ends. Human beings should be dignified and globalization should not lessen their value just because a company wants to do so. It is about our responsibility to move together to make this world better and just for human beings.