RIGHTS exist within
the STATE itself as a whole
hers being with CHILD
RIGHTS exist within
the STATE itself as a whole
hers being with CHILD
*The following is repost (technical difficulties) of the first part of a multi-part series on the rise of cannabis as a medicine, how it affects alcoholics and addicts in recovery, and how to go about changing the information we have in our minds.
On June 10, 1935 the modern recovery movement was born when Alcoholics Anonymous came into being. And with it came an entirely new way for society to view alcoholism. While this isn’t the only method for people to recover, it’s going to be my primary starting point for now.
AA presented alcoholism as a disease, and one with no known cure. They also offered an ongoing “treatment” for alcoholism that would help the sufferer keep their illness in remission. It soon became very well respected, primarily for the recoveries that it had helped foster. Rather than branching out into other problem areas in society, it instead offered up its 12-step formula to other organizations, to adapt as they saw fit to help other populations with different needs. AA also offered its help to the world of science and health, helping to catapult much of the medical research on alcoholism and addiction that we now benefit from. They firmly put themselves in a position to only help, and never to engage in opinions one way or another. AA also tried very hard to foresee the future in order to avoid falling prey to medical fads, or fickle politics. In doing so, it necessarily took a step back, offering no opinions or endorsements. It’s that kind of foresight that has allowed the program to help as many people as it has over the years. It also gave the mistaken impression to many that the organization itself was mired in the past, advocating faith-healing over science, and allowing people to blame their problems on a disease instead of taking responsibility.
On August 2, 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marijuana Tax Act, setting in motion an eighty-year assault on plant that had previously been cultivated for a variety of uses by Americans up until that point. The bill itself was drafted by Harry Anslinger, who served (not at all coincidentally) as the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. There is more than enough evidence indicating that cannabis was already under assault on different fronts prior to this point, but history has also shown that Anslinger played a pivotal role in cannabis prohibition. And, like many of the other substances that were being regulated, and prohibited during this particularly active period of American puritanism, cannabis went from being a plant of many uses, to a fast and efficient way to ruins your life just from the penalties alone.
So, for 80 years those two worlds existed on parallel planes, rarely interacting. As the 12-step world grew and expanded to include organizations like Narcotics Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous, the idea of members using any sort of medicine that alters consciousness became taboo in church basements around the world.
It’s here where I need to step and explain something. I have and will use the terms organization, program, members, and culture to describe things like AA, and that isn’t accidental. It also needs to be pointed out that they aren’t synonymous with each other, something that becomes important as this narrative continues.
The organization of Alcoholics Anonymous is just that, the parent organization that exists to serve the groups, and individual members with information to aid in their recovery. This is the same type of organization that I mentioned had “firmly put themselves in a position to only help, and never to engage in opinions one way or another”. Unlike most organizations, they never set rules or requirements for their members to follow, at most they will offer suggestions. Not everyone at the organization is a member, let alone an alcoholic or addict. If asked about their position on different forms of cannabis being legally prescribed as medicine, or about recreational legalization, they would very likely say that they have no opinion on those kinds of issues.
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous are those 12-step things you hear mentioned in TV and movies all of the time. If you actually use these twelve things to help you in life, you are following the program. You don’t need to be a member, or even an alcoholic or drug addict to use them. They were designed to be “open source” long before that was a term of use.
The members of Alcoholics Anonymous are just that, the people in the seats. Someone becomes a member when they say they are, that’s all there is to it. Of course, because the membership is made up of people who get to decide if they are members, or even if they are alcoholics at all, it is as flawed as and varied as people are in general. And while that means no one person is in charge, it also means that anyone who thinks they are, will try to be. I invite you to someday attend an AA meeting someday, and then randomly suggest they move their coffee pot across the room. Watch to see how many people think they are in charge. This will become is a crucial point in this narrative, because they are people with lots of opinions, who talk to each other all the time.
Finally, there is the culture of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is where most misunderstandings and conflicts arise within the world of recovery. And it’s here where opinions become dogma, regardless of evidence.
To be continued…
The last few years has been a tough ride for me personally. I lost a brother to an overdose. I lost my mother to cancer. I lost one of my oldest friends, and the best man in my wedding, to Alzheimer’s. There’s also a handful of other major events that would take too long to explain in this particular post. When I look back at every one of those losses, there is a fairly large gap in my blog post history. Who knows why? I suppose it’s one of the ways I don’t deal with grief, by simply ignoring any decent coping mechanism I have for processing it.
A week ago today, I lost one of the most influential people I have ever had the privilege to know and collaborate with. This time the loss is directly relevant to my spiritual well-being, as well as what I write about.
Brian and I met over a decade ago, when he was hired by a friend of his, who was also my boss. A lucky break for me since the same guy had been telling me that I would probably get along really well with his friend Brian. A suggestion that sparked one of the most pivotal relationships in my life.
He was more than just a friend. He was a mentor in a number of areas for me. At other times, he preferred to be the student. It was one the purest definitions of friendship I have ever experienced. For myself, I believe that’s because we recognized ourselves in each other.
Over time, we created and authored a number of blogs that discussed a range of topics. He was one of the few people I can honestly say was able to deliver criticism to me in a way that completely bypassed my defenses, and the need to defend myself from the criticism. He could bypass my defenses and deliver information in a way that made it easy to see his point, simply removing my normal need to save face.
I don’t write because I want to. On most days, it’s more of a need. But, when my ego flairs, writing the type of stuff I do can be painful sometimes. Based on what I know, I suspect that Brian had to learn how to reduce his own ego before he could help anyone else with theirs. I am a far better person today for having known him.
I haven’t used his full name for a few reasons. The first of which is that I haven’t sought any sort of permission from his family to compose a written memorial. But also because I think I knew him well enough to know that, the idea of anyone trying to memorialize him in any way, would have given him the heebie jeebies.
Over the years he pushed me hard to get over myself, and to finally realize some of the projects I wanted to work on. But, like most people, most of it’s blocked by whatever bullshit excuse for a fear that I’d given myself. Each time that he pushed, he was careful to do so in a way that was always most helpful to others, and less likely to focus accolades back on us. In other words, Brian showed me what humility was, from the inside.
Okay, so now after having written all of that nice stuff, it also appears that I have also acquired my own glasses-wearing, mustachioed Obi Wan-ghost, wandering around and bugging me that I’ve still got work to do.
You see, I am not trying to memorialize Brian so much as I am trying to write about the passing of a close friend as a way to exercise my own demons. And also to let people know that I plan to change directions with this blog for a little while, if that’s okay (and even if it’s not). This blog was never meant to be a political bitch session. That’s purely a side effect of our current political climate.
I have been working on a series of essays that discuss the current and ongoing change in status that cannabis is experiencing as medicine, as well as how that might affect people in recovery for things like alcoholism.
Because of some of the training I have, both personally and professionally, this is a topic of great personal importance to me. It’s also one that few seem willing to tackle. And it’s here that Brian recently applied his gentle pressure, for me to continue to explore the subject, so that we could continue to help others in whatever way works for them.
My secondary reason for this post is to ask help from the readers: If you know anyone who can be helped by this information, please share it with them, this topic must be a give and take. Like much of our political discourse these days, the medical benefits of things like cannabis are subject to media favoritism. And the popularity of certain methods and medicines, ebbs and flows on public perception. A perception that is largely informed by backdoor deals and lobbying efforts, usually designed to enrich someone else, somewhere else.
What we really should be doing is using the technology we passively browse, and instead push it to increase our own access to information. We need it to help us expand our knowledge of the truth, and about the real efficacy of our medicines, and our politics. And for many who are trying to recover from addiction, helping them to increase the quality of their own internal lives.
Having said all of that, I want to once more thank Brian for everything he was able to teach me (not always such an easy task). And to also let him know that I miss him, and that I love him. Something I’m sure he knew, but I don’t think I got to say out loud.
Between yesterday and today, thousands of Americans have considered switching political affiliations.
First, we have a massive hurricane making landfall in the Carolinas. There are also scores of houses burning in Massachusetts due to a gas line issue.
It’s for these reasons that thousands and thousands of conservative, self-sufficient, pull-themselves-up-by-their-bootstraps kind of folks will suddenly decide that Socialism ain’t so bad after all. It’s a common conversion that happens when your house is on fire, or you need to be rescued from the roof of your flooded home.
When it comes to paying taxes, they’re a fiscal conservative/capitalist who is more than willing to fight the good fight based on the “It ain’t right, because the 16th Amendment” argument. But once their house is burning or floating, they are happy to proclaim their status as Americans, shouting, “But, I’m a taxpayer!” as their expectations of public services suddenly exceeds their demonstrations of individuality.
When the shit hits the fan and you have to do the unthinkable and ask for help, it’s because your ego has finally fallen from its lofty perch long enough for your spirit to recognize that we are all actually in this together. And just for the briefest of moments, we are all on the same side. Even them liberals, and non-whites.
So, news reports have said that members of the Trump administration have been denied service in, and chased out of, businesses they thought they had the right to frequent as a normal customer. It’s completely unfair.
And I hear they’re also having trouble finding dates, or keeping them when they do. People are just walking out in the middle of dates when they find out someone works for the administration. It’s just rude.
No one likes to be judged by others. Especially not before they even get a chance to know you. And something personal, like where you work or what you believe in, shouldn’t affect what restaurant you’re allowed to eat in… Right?
This one was tough to put into words, even more so in writing.
You know, I’m glad that people are shocked and motivated to raise awareness about suicide since the passing of Anthony Bordain, and Kate Spade. Similar concerns erupted around Robin Williams suicide a few years ago too. But unfortunately, it’s very likely that these concerns will have to get voiced again, and again, since this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Awareness is a good thing, but in and of itself, it’s not very practical. Compassion, and awareness need to be paired with action to show their real effectiveness. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying awareness is useless. I mean, it sure beats some of our other bright ideas, like ‘life’s a beach’ T-shirts, truck balls, and Budweiser mirrors, but it is only awareness after all.
Suicidal ideations don’t usually just come out of nowhere. Usually those kinds of thoughts are like an old friend that has quietly whispered never ending doubts into your ear for many years. And it’s not usually a threatening voice either. In fact, to the some sufferers it’s a very reassuring one, because it’s the only one that offers anything resembling relief, however final it may be. While the idea of suicide may seem a tad drastic at first, with constant nudging from that voice, it begins to lose that feeling of being such an “extreme act”.
It should be universally understood that someone is no longer functioning normally when they are willing to conclude that everyone they care about (and who cares about them) would be better off if they were no longer alive. It should be, but it isn’t. Instead, people confuse depression with sadness, in much the same way a very vocal minority confuses climate with weather.
For the sufferer, anything that interferes with their ability to wallow in their own thoughts, gets jettisoned quickly. The passage of time is only relevant to how long it’s been since their last bout. For years the voice has been convincing them how minor their death will be, that everyone is better off, and how it has always been an option. And the more they listen, the more powerful it becomes, just like Hyde did to Dr. Jeckyl.
If you know someone is struggling, you need to reach out to them. Think for a second about how willing you are to reach out when you’re feeling down… a lot of us would just like crawl back to bed, at the very least. So take a few minutes out of your day to talk with them and catch up. Make sure to stay in touch with them, because a huge part of the problem is the almost total inability to ask for help!
If we know someone who might actually need help, we should encourage them to talk to their doctor or seek another form of help. We should keep in touch with them, and follow up. We need more human contact, we’re all beginning to realize how much of that we’ve given up for our phoneputers. And I’m probably guiltier of it than most.
I’d love to wrap this up in a nice bow that tells everyone how we can fix it. Yeah… that’s not how this works. Helping people can be inconvenient sometimes, but we aren’t going to solve some of our more ‘human’ problems without getting right in there and showing that we give a shit.
So I’m sitting here watching some of the royal wedding stuff, when they show both William and Harry walking along in uniform. And while I don’t totally ‘get’ royalty, I quickly grasped something completely different from this scene.
It occurred to me that, traditionally the British Monarchy has always laid their lives on the line for their country and crown. In fact, Prince Harry actively fought in Afghanistan through two tours, and was considered a high value target to the enemy. That is as real as it gets. And that is also a sacrifice that many of us understand all too well.
And while Americans like to think we are so much more advanced because we are no longer tied to those barbaric royal traditions, everything is not what it seems.
Sure, we famously spearheaded the ideas of the democracy. We developed radical ideas, such as, we would now trust in our citizenry to defend and run the country. We were no longer willing to trust some out-of-touch royal bum-sniffer, so removed from the struggles of daily life, that they have no clue as to what their subjects have to go through in their daily lives to survive. And worse yet, the same out of touch rulers think it’s only proper that they pass on this power to their clueless heirs.
Except, that’s not really what’s happening, is it?
Instead, as I watch Prince Harry gets married in his military uniform, I can intuitively conclude that this prince who is all the way over in Great Britain has far more in common with everyday people, than President Bone Spurs ever could, or even wants to. Because in America, political power will always get you out of military service, if you don’t want to go.
It seems as though our “representative government” went off the rails somewhere along the way. Instead, this morning millions of Americans spent the early hours of the day, fantasizing that they were somewhere, and maybe even someone else, at least for a few hours.
Let’s say that the entire Russia thing turns out to be a big misunderstanding. And, let’s assume then that Donald Trump gets re-elected and serves two full terms, resigning peacefully after a normal, democratic election. mmmmmmkay?
So at some point during those years there will have been midterm elections that likely flip the House and the Senate, since that isn’t entirely unlikely in American politics.
Still with me?
Now, during the last year of Trump’s presidency a Supreme Court justice dies suddenly. What would happen if Democrats decided to not even hold a vote on a Supreme Court appointee? Even if Trump decided to put forth a candidate that both parties could agree on. Someone like Merrick Garland. And what happens if the Democrats in charge said ‘no’, and dug in their heels further?
And what if, let’s say, a Bernie Sanders type candidate is elected as President after Donald Trump. Let’s call him Barney Summers.
Suddenly Barney begins to rapidly use Executive Orders to do things like: “Once a year we will now have an “Open Border Day” along our southern border. And during that day, anyone who shows up with the all of their paperwork filled out, gets instant status as a United States citizen.
Also, President Barney Summers begins to appoint every progressive activist he knows. People who have longed to get on the inside to regulate and straighten out all of the government programs that they’ve been protesting against for decades. Suddenly coal companies are required to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and upgrades if they want to remain in business. Corporate executives who had previously taken golden parachutes after tanking their company, and fleecing American consumers, are retroactively prosecuted, fined, and jailed for their crimes.
The military is suddenly required to justify every purchase they want to make…And to do so, must get three separate quotes from different vendors, all to be reviewed by the citizens. Meanwhile, public education finally gets an unfettered budget, allowing the entire system to be rebuilt in the image of far more successful European educational models, which would now include funding every citizen being allowed to obtain a 4 year degree at a community college. All of this would be paid for by the taxes that the Defense Department were not able to justify needing anymore.
Or, what if they Defense Department gets quietly defunded and dismantled, in much the same way the State Department is currently being subjected to?
Police in various states begin to pull over, arrest, and abuse, primarily white men who are identified as posing a threat to our nation’s security. The evidence used to justify these threats is based on superficial things like, gun racks in their vehicles, and various bumper stickers that identify them by their political leanings.
Also, during this time, legislation is passed that bans any and all Americans from purchasing, or possessing, all forms of assault weapons. The President begins to label that entire industry as “The Lying Gun Lobby”, and drives changes that make it legal to sue the weapons dealers and manufacturers, on behalf of anyone killed or harmed by their products.
I think you can see where I am going with this, so here are my questions:
Just exactly how loud do you think the voices would be in the Republican party then?
Would people like Paul Ryan be okay if the new Speaker of the House refused to listen to the opposition, or even allow any dissenting ideas onto The Floor for a vote?
Do you think they would be able to recognize even a little bit of the irony that they were suffering through?
Just a thought experiment for you, on this beautiful May weekend.
So lately, with all of the sex assault allegations firing off in every direction, taking down politicians left and right (yes, I know it extends far beyond politics), it has me thinking… I’m sure what I’m about to say will piss a few people off, but here goes.
For one thing, it’s absolutely wonderful that we are finally in a place where victims of this kind of abuse can finally feel confident enough to tell their story with far less fear of reprisal. It’s been a long time coming.
What is also amazing is how the victims are finally getting the benefit of the doubt, right out of the gate. The phrase, “I believe the women” is now being spoken by anyone who wants to enjoy any sort of public life in the future.
But, I also found myself thinking about the fact that, in politics, people play dirty. I’m not saying anyone is in these cases, but just for a second, imagine what the perfect political weapon would be. It would have to be the ability to make accusations of wrongdoing that’ll get judged long before they get proven.
Now, before anyone loses their shit on me, I want to make sure to say that I feel every accusation I have heard recently has been completely credible.
But, just imagine what you could do with that kind of weapon. Aim it at someone, and you could get a perfect hit (and resignation), every time! And by the time an investigation was done and we found out the truth, it wouldn’t matter because your political enemy would still be gone. And you would still get your special election, and a really good chance to plop your candidate in the newly vacated seat.
The court of public opinion has suddenly increased exponentially in power because of social media. And with it, the possibility that we can completely undermine the legal standard of due process. “Innocent until proven guilty”, would become afterthought. Again, that isn’t the case right now. But, I could see it happening if we aren’t careful.
It would be great if there was an easier, more expeditious way to prove guilt. But, alas, it’s not like some guy guy running for president is going to openly admit popping a Tic Tac, and then grabbing women by the crotch.
So, it looks like the political pendulum has started to swing the other way again.
One year ago, the American voters (with the help of a few Russians) elected Donald Trump, and a flurry of other Republicans, into public office. It was a knee-jerk response to the election of Barack Obama, and a herd of Democrats, eight years earlier.
Usually what happens after a “correction” like this, is that the winning party sings the praises of the founding father’s wisdom. And for a little while they use phrases like “mandate by the people”, and proclaim that “the American voters spoke loud and clear”, regardless how little they won by.
The truth is, the collective voting public in America are about as decisive as a squirrel with a speeding car bearing down on it.
If you’re a Democrat you are probably really excited about the election results. And no doubt there are strategists out there already planning ways to leverage this small window to get things done before the pendulum swings the other way. Good, right?
No! That’s exactly the problem right now. The idea that you have to get enough of “your people” in office to overcome the opposition is the real enemy of democracy.
If we lose the ability to compromise, then the logical result will be a constantly imbalanced, and impotent system. And while that may seem okay if you agree with the person in power, it also means that you will also again be “the opposition” soon enough.
If you get people upset enough, they will continue to make emotional decisions when they need to make rational ones. And we will be right back here in another four to eight years.