The WW II ended in 1945: Many silly little life-style restrictions also ended in Japan. I was an incorrigible grade seven boy. Free at last! I decided to let my hair grow. Under the war-time regime, all school boys had to keep their hair very short. Only one shaggy head among several hundred short cropped hairs: mine must have stood out.

It took a while for people in the administration to decide how to handle the new situation. I was called to the principal’s office. They asked me why I had to look different. They didn’t know what to do with me, but they knew they couldn’t force me to cut my hair. I said, I got tired of cutting hair so often. Besides I said, my hair would not harm anybody except making me look weird.

Many people seem to have a problem wearing masks. Is the face mask the same question as length of hair? Is it attack on fundamental rights to freedom? I disagree. We wear a mask to prevent transmission of virus to other people; we don’t know if we have virus or not. But some people don’t see it that way. A face mask is uncomfortable. Maybe some people simply don’t like to be told, like the boy in the grade seven.

We do have the rights to liberty but we do not have freedom to endanger people’s lives. It’s like ignoring the traffic lights or texting while driving. Gun ownership poses the same problem.

Of course freedom is our fundamental right. It’s the hallmark of liberal democracy. It’s also what makes us creative and dynamic. Autocracy stifles creativity and is an attack on human dignity. It is a particular American dilemma. The U.S.A. is proudly a land of liberty. Freedom is sacred. The Second Amendment gives the right to bear arms against arbitrary measures.

That’s why Americans are creative and their society violent. Americans have won the largest number of Nobel Prize in many fields. Meanwhile it’s where the largest number of people killed by the guns held by fellow Americans: the second largest number of deaths after traffic accidents.

I treasure my freedom. I hold dear the same spirit of a long hair wiredo. But I want to live longer too.

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