Sunday, April 4, 2010
Latest thoughts on the "Drug War"
After reviewing this article by "Sting" on his views about the cultural "drug wars" and a few facebook exchanges on the subject, I thought I should try and organize better my thoughts in this space.
I have previously blogged somewhat on this subject and continue to maintain my "libertarian" views on legislated morality. I know this goads against many of my more conservative friends and family's views on the subject, but I still must state my case.
I still don't understand how people equate "legalizing" drugs to ADVOCATING drugs. When governments and societies start down the path of controlling personal behaviors and taking away people's choices of lifestyle, it becomes a slippery slope of institutional behavior modification. It specifically goes against the grain of personal sovereignty and responsibility for ones own actions. If you start legislating and making criminals out of addicts and people whose preferences you don't share, you might soon find yourself in the cross-hairs of your own criteria. And let's face it, governments world wide are some of the most hypocritical propagators of these "control" agendas. Laws passed on the common citizen are often totally disregarded by the originators of those laws. Just look at the public felony and misdemeanor records of the 500+ USA legislators who primarily make all the laws there. I won't bother to go into that litany here, but it is available easily for any of you who want to find out.
DRUGS is not the problem. We are attacking the symptom, not the cause of the disease. Until we start treating the attitude and moral fiber that is the root of the pursuit of drugs and all other forms of addiction, this problem will never be resolved. Drugs are as readily available to our kids as they ever were...even with all the TRILLIONS that have been spent on enforcement. Even if we simply took all the money being spent to incarcerate drug addicts and put it into treatment programs instead, we would have a better chance of winning the war. Its not about drugs. It is about the empty existence that is the reality of the poor, the poor in spirit and the disenfranchised. We need more jobs, food and education to win this war...not more guns and prisons.
Until we fix our educational systems and family structures in our society, people are going to continue looking for escape in every form of substance. Even obesity to me is a major symptom of our discontent. Some of us may not be "sex addicts" like we think of Tiger Woods and others...or alcoholics like the thousands that are arrested each day for "drunk driving". At the same time, some of us are finding it harder and harder to fit behind the steering wheel of our car or get the seat belt fastened on a plane. You are now starting to see localities putting consumption taxes on "fast" or fattening foods. This is the next step before making illegal certain foods that "have been known to cause obesity". Is this really where the majority want to go with "big government" controls? Whatever happened to SELF control and discipline? What happened to the "just say no" campaign?
When and where is it appropriate for government and society to step in and dictate behavior? I have no problem with the ancient legal mindset of "an eye for an eye" and making restitution for damages my or anyone else behavior causes a third party. People need to "pay" for their mistakes...and many do when it comes to their physical and mental/emotional conditions. It is cause and effect, whether there is legislation behind it or not. It used to be just the "power of relationship" amongst family and friends was enough to establish boundaries and provide the necessary guidelines for children growing up to abide by. "Acceptable behaviors" were acquired not by legislation, but by the relational respect merited by the examples of our parents and mature leaders above us. We wanted to emulate respectable values and behaviors of our elders. It gave us meaning and purpose to be in relationship with those examples and connectivity to our communities or tribes. In the modern world, that security and connectivity is lost. There are few examples in our world to follow and our trust and respect for our former leaders is lost on the new ones.
To that end, the only solution I see in combating drugs and other harmful addictions is to provide a supportive community and network to encourage the weak among us. Where people have been disenfranchised from role models or equal access to opportunity, those of us more lucky and productive need to step in and lend a helping hand. This is not a government program, but about starting from the local and even familial level up. If everyone just took responsibility for themselves and their own flesh and blood...principles that most great civilizations were built on...there would be no need for big expensive government programs fighting "drug wars".
I have seen a lot of people in my life, both family and friends, affected by the ravages of substance abuse. Some have died, and others are amazing stories of recovery and victory. Those who have recovered have had to start with their own decision and recognizance that they had to change. In many cases they also had great support both emotionally and monetarily from friends and family to do so. "Intervention" starts at "home"...not with government programs. The people I have known and/or read about who have overcome substances have usually been challenged by those closest to them. Challenge, love and support of the individual struggling is hugely important in bringing about this societal change.
I also must mention the irony of how our society has "legalized" certain substances like alcohol, tobacco and many addictive food substances...many commonly known to cause cancer in both rats and humans. Yet, we focus on incarcerating people who smoke or take more "natural" or herbal substances such as marijuana and various forms of "poppy" seeds. I truly believe SOME human conditions can be improved by controlled use of some of these "illegal" substances. Yet, legislators meet over multiple cocktails and big fat cigars to come up with new budgets to control and feed the "anti drug" campaigns. Anyone else see the irony in this?
The only long term solution I see for winning this fight is to first live by example. Don't think that your kids will respect your position on drugs if you are yelling and screaming on the subject with a slight martini slur. Second, you can't take something away from people without giving them something better to replace it. This is against human nature. If you give a baby a rattle to play with and then want to take it away, you'd better have some tasty food or a better enhancement to replace its interest in the rattle. Adults are just grown up children. We all want our pleasures and enjoyment in life...if we are human. Yet, we sometimes need to be told or coaxed in a loving way to focus on something else every once in a while. We need to train parents to be good ones. We need to elect political leaders who will lead by example. We need financially successful role models in our lives to give us hope that we too can be productive and successful. It still starts with the "power of ONE"...not big institutional programs.
You have to push MEANING...not just coercion...to the masses. This is best done by education versus police, judges and jailers.