Drugs

Mikael-jumping-into-arms2

My son at 7 – taking a leap of faith into my arms.

When my son was 16 he asked me about drugs.  I told him to stay away from the stuff.  “Life is easier if you can do without using drugs”, I said, but other than that I would like to let him know a few more details I’ve learned over the years:


Artificial vs Natural
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Scientists say that every emotion we have is due to our own manufacturing of drugs. Our brains and bodies lob chemical molecules around like basket-ball teams. The receptors we have in our brain can detect and react to compounds also found outside the body, in nature’s fauna. Certain chemicals make us feel in certain ways and thanks in part to science, man has concentrated or synthesized these chemicals to boost the effect of many natural substances.  One result of such research has been the increased ability by medicine to manage severe pain and suppress emotions. Drugs can intensify or mask our perceptions – we use coffee, tea, cigarettes, pain medications, sugar and caffeine drinks, sleeping pills, keep-driving-pills, herbal remedies, doctor-prescribed peptide inhibitors and enhancers. Plants containing drugs have been used for thousands of years by all civilizations for healing, vision-quests or to enhance stamina. Some were used for pleasure, and some to control populations by creating mindless slaves (as in the Opium Wars). Drugs are ingested, inhaled, injected and absorbed. They are natural and synthetic, and they can heal or kill.

Addiction
improving-neighborhoods-might-lower-teen-murder-rates-1024x768From my observations, an addiction to drugs can be chemical or psychological, but it would be safe to say that if something offers temporary relief from an undesirable condition (such as living in a bad neighborhood or in an intolerable situation) – that “something” continues to be an attractive alternative – from a psychological perspective. Chemically the brain seems to enjoy the pleasant effects of drugs, such as Nicotine found in cigarettes. So much so that, when the effect wears off, a smoker’s brain sends a “we need more of this” signal – often by way of a negative emotion. Cigarette manufacturers have, naturally, been happy about this arrangement, as have dealers and manufacturers of caffeine, sugar, and countless street-drugs.

What complicates matters is that Western Medicine has largely regarded all humans to be chemically the same. We now recognize that different compounds affect humans in sometimes slight, sometimes extremely different ways. Beer, for example, puts some people to sleep while others become up-beat and highly social – or in some cases angry and destructive.

Illegal Spells Profit.
The fact that many drugs made to induce pleasure (if only for a short while) are illegal to the public, adds a huge economical incentive to cultivate addicts, who would steal the bells of Santa’s sleigh for their next fix. On the black market there are no quality controls, and drugs are often mixed with stuff that is cheaper and even more damaging than the substance it proclaims to be – and just like the prohibition was the greatest boon to the liquor industry, some say illegality adds to the creation of addicts, not hindering it.

The History of Drugs.
81spbcbz7olWhether in the hands of a doctor, a healer or a street-peddler, drugs are not likely to go away. Throughout all recorded history substances of many kinds have been used in order to cause a shift in perspective. Some subtle, as a cigar after dinner, some more spectacular in nature. Alcohol was often the easiest to make – using anything that would ferment from potatoes to rice, grain, fruit and grapes – but other compounds found in nature were also cultivated. The Danish Vikings apparently ingested a certain mushroom, Fly Agaric, before going into battles making them go berserk and be impervious to pain. American Indians used the Peyote Cactus, Mescaline and “Magic Mushrooms” for vision quest journeys. The sacred “Peace Pipe” passed around could have contained only tobacco, but my guess is some “Loco Weed” may have found it’s way into the pipe. Further south, the medicine people in the Brazilian Rainforest for thousands of years have used the bark of the Ayahuasca tree, and parts of the Jurema Shrub in ceremonies – claiming to connect with a spirit world. The word “assassin” comes from the Mid-Eastern word “hashhassin” – meaning Hash-Eater, and even such venerable institutions as the “Oracle of Delphi” where “To thine own self be true” was edged over the entrance – featured a person affected by “a mildly toxic” steam rising in the cave.  People have had a need for stimulation for as long as we can imagine and often as a way to perceive a connection with the mystery of life.

The Arts and Drugs.
Although the generally accepted idea today is that contact with drugs (and alcohol) can only be destructive, many artists have contributed countless paintings, books, movies, songs and music under an “influence” of some sort. screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-10-24-16-pmMozart drank an extraordinary amount of punch and wine during his short, genius life, as actors like Robben Williams freely admitted to using cocaine (and being on everything but roller skates) while performing in movies. The Beatles sang about pot and LSD in the Sixties, and one can speculate what songs would have been produced, had they led pious, sober lives. Another great band, The Doobie Brothers, probably also had some knowledge of what a doobie was. Country music is more famous for alcoholic stars, but some like Willie Nelson are known for their fondness of Marijuana. The world of Jazz seem to attracting artists more of a hard-core presuation. Ray Charles, and Charlie Parker come to mind – with their well known addictions to Heroin. Historically speaking several of the founding fathers are rumored to have enjoyed a bowl of “loco-weed” now and then. When Benjamin Franklin floated himself across the village pond pulled by a kite, I personally think he had more than tobacco in his pipe that day. Lately it has also been pointed out to me that the “snuff” used by many aristocrats during the time of the European Renaissance was a mixture of cocaine and tobacco (no wonder the French Revolution took them by surprise). Although fictional, Sherlock Holmes was in today’s terms also a coke-head, exhibiting all the driven, keen behavior typical of a cocaine user. During the 60’es and 70’es many university scientists (some working for the Army) experimented with LSD, and the field of “psychopharmacology” developed at that time. Singer/writer Paul Simon got in hot water for having weed in his limmo during a routine traffic-check, Paul McCartney is said to have divorced over the issue of pot, and do we want to talk about reggae and the Rasta religion?

Two Kinds of Users.
I think users fall into two basic categories: Those wishing to escape, and those on a quest. Those who’s only goal it is to escape a “reality” are easy targets for exploitation, as a drug’s effect is only temporary while the need keeps growing (It is said that the first shot of Heroin or Meth gives a pleasure rush so intense that the user will spend the rest of his/her life trying to duplicate it – and it will actually never happen). If, on the other hand, a drug is used is for the purpose of exploration, the picture may be a little different. It appears to me that users who are motivated by curiosity, rather than need, are less likely to become addicts. A drug like Ecstasy, for instance, was originally developed for intra-personal therapy by a scientists named Alexander Sholgun, who had found a way to mimic what the brain releases naturally when it wants to feel euphoric. Originally a therapist would use the drug to guide couples – typically married, but at an impasse of their relationship – though a journey “of the heart” and often with lasting success. Couples were able to put personality and events aside and see the universality of each other. The remarkable claims about this method was that the insights, lessons learned and connection made did not vanish with the morning light.  Ecstasy was not a substance suited for addiction as we knew it back when, since our bodies needed to reset before taking another “journey”, we couldn’t simply take more of it.  What the kids today call Ecstasy, MDMA, X or Molly does not sound like what we experienced.  We took X as a quiet “deepening of the heart” – the Rave-parties of today would have been the last thing we would want to engage in.  Today’s X must be mixed with Speed and/or other stuff to give someone the idea to dance all night with hundreds of people.

Witch Hunt.
Lately there has been a lot of focus on athletes using drugs to improve their performance. There has been talk about removing suspected users of Steroids from the Hall of Fame (presumably to the Hall of Shame)… Although most would agree we should punish those who had an unfair advantages in sports, should we also ban countless musical compositions and paintings because they were created “under the influence”?

On the surface it seems that society celebrates creative people when we can either ignore our suspicion that they may be “on” something, or if they say they used to but don’t any more… If a person has led a “rough” life, they are considered seasoned and an inspiration to others.

Threat to the public
Since drugs (and alcohol) have been around forever, and the so-called “war on drugs” has not had any success, it would perhaps make sense to pause – and ask a few basic questions such as: Is doing drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and other unhealthy behavior a personal issue or should government get involved?  Most would agree that if a person behaves in a self-destructive way, we would see action be taken, but if there is no direct threat to others, who is best suited for intervention, family/friends or government?

In short I think freedom means the right to figure life out by ourselves, and we have each other to help. Some of us get addicted to credit cards, sex, bad relationships, gambling, sugar or fast food – does this mean that the government should step in before we do more harm to ourselves? Do we want the authorities to protect us from ourselves? Not unless we look to government to also define the reason for living, and this, I think, is the central question regarding drugs:

What do we think life is for?
It seems to me, that if we believe life is a test to do the “right” thing in order to be rewarded at death by a Supreme Being, then the race is on to determine what is right and what is wrong before it’s too late. If life, on the other hand, is an opportunity for a unique experience including personal choice, and there is no “judgment” or “right way” in the eyes of the Universe, then we are each free to choose what kind of experience we want. This doesn’t mean its a good idea to go crazy because there is no one to punish us: It would indeed be our own loss if we found ourselves wasting away on Opium in the slums of Hong Kong, much like if a foolish action left us crippled or stranded on a barren island. Free Will means personal responsibility, and no one to blame but ourselves.creacion_de_adam

Many Christians believe we are all sinners and must repent. Jews were told they were the chosen people and have been isolated by other tribes ever since. Muslims have not yet separated faith from science, something the Christians called Reformation. Buddhists attempt all-acceptance, but are driven out of lands by those tolerating nothing – and Native Indians see all animals, plants, earth, water, fire and sky as connected, but not so modern society. Most faiths attempt to gain access to the unknown by restricting or modifying behaviour and governing thought. Since drugs challenge accepted views of life, they are often regarded at a threat to “tradition”, hence banned as evil.

The down side
of Drugs is that the user often becomes isolated in a personal experience that others can’t relate to, or is caught in either a mental, or chemical dependency. Drug abusers become despondent, listless, and without interests beyond the drug itself. We say that when there are drugs or alcohol involved, the person is not fully able to make good judgments about choices in life and therefore it is a compassionate response to step in and change the situation.
In my view, a well functioning community of friends, family and neighbors is probably better suited for such intervention, rather than laws and government. Little is done to help someone by putting them in jail.

America
was founded on the idea of personal freedom to pursue a life of one’s own choosing. We are allowed to tattoo ourselves from head to toe, eat Twinkies for all our meals, smoke cigarettes non stop and never see a dentist, so why are we are not permitted to alter our minds with any other substance than alcohol?

Personally Speaking,
I grew up during the sixties and had my fair share of various herbs and spices such as Pot, LSD, Mushrooms, and MDMA. I learned a lot and never had a bad experience, but luckily I was never attracted to the hard stuff. Pot helped me better than Prozac and Dextrin during a depressing period of my life, and I still find it helpful to lift the mood and find musical inspiration.  Otherwise I appreciate having a keen mind, living in the same world as those around me and show up on time with all my gear. My friends and loved ones helped me find balance, not the government.

More useful information available from the book: “Hallucionogenic Plants” by Richard Evans Schultes published by Golden Press, NY.

Women in the Military

I thought about it.
No doubt a woman can be fierce.
But assuming that going into war is a duty, not a privilege, my sense is this:

Giving birth is enough done for the survival of our species.
I have been in attendance of nine births, one of which was my own son, and it seems to me that the power and courage it takes to give birth could well be equal to what it takes to deliver death.

And what does it say of a society that they send their women into battle?
We should all strive to be equal, some argue.
I say, surely men do not want equal rights to birth babies, so why would a woman want “equal rights” to go into battle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

That aside, on a primal level, the reason men have most often gone into battle is to protect their women, their children, home and country. There is power and pride in that instinct, there is a sense of purpose and righteousness. If a man goes into battle with a woman at his side, he must change himself – away from his basic instincts to protect her more than others. He must also become willing to kill a woman in battle as swiftly as a man. When that moral ground is won, when a man looses that virtue where will he find it again?

Some say it is the future, and that having no differences between the sexes is part of evolution itself – a stage we must go through to become pure of heart.

I say, rubbish. The heart is always pure, and the kind of man who looses his honor to protect, the kind of man who lets a woman fight his war is not the kind of man I wish to become. I would be ashamed.  I say giving birth is enough – besides, it’s men who create most of the wars anyway, so let men handle their own messes.

I say, that we are equal, yes, but we are not the same.
Let not war be where a woman goes.

Separated

separatedI live alone. My son, now 22 lives in a room in the nearby town. My girlfriend resides in her Condo 30 miles away, my ex-wife lives alone in an apartment, her girlfriends also live alone, expecting to come to the end of life single. Most of my friends are single, both women and men.

It used to be that a man would provide food and a place to live, while a woman would support said man by believing in his dreams, his abilities and kindness. She would make a house into a home, and together the man and woman would raise a family. No more. Now we are “equal” and equally alone. She works as hard as he to keep it “together”, pay rent, food, transportation, insurance, all the necessities of life. She has her own dreams to follow and no longer “belongs” to a man, nor does he to her.

Great, isn’t it?  Are we all happy now?  What was supposed to bring us closer by making us equal instead brought us separation.

With regard to music – it has existed in every tribe and at any time of the existence of human beings. Every race, creed, religion, had music for as long as we have used language, perhaps even longer. They say we only acquired the ability to speak about 40,000 years ago. So for at least 40,000 years we have played, sung, made instruments and listened to music. It was live music, of course, where the players and listeners shared time and space together. Roughly 50 years ago we started recording, separating the listeners from the performers. The spiritual connection music once provided, was replaced with the sound of music – delivered like frozen pizza days, weeks or years after it’s creation. The sound of music is not the same as music. Live music is a communal experience confirming the existence of other souls, while a recording is a memory of that experience. What is the difference, you may say? The experience of connecting with others feeds our spirit, while the memory leaves us hungry for something in the past. One may wonder why the sound of music if now everywhere – gas stations, supermarkets, in our cars, waiting on hold, standing in elevators, walking with headphones, in restaurants… Perhaps we cannot get enough music because we are separated from it.

Reality itself has become an image on a flat-screen TV. Our lives only seek to emulate what is shown to us. With the promise to “bring us the world” the entertainment industry has removed us from it. Kids learn details of violent behavior heretofore reserved for mercenary soldiers, and their brains blur the lines between action on the screen and off… Boredom itself has been eliminated – and within a constant barrage of entertainment we have become separated from our own thoughts and feelings.

Cell phones often touted as “bringing us together” chops our voice into binary zeros and ones as we exchange messages to each other instead of missing each other’s company enough to meet in person.

Lastly our leaders have succeeded in separating the voting public into races, religions, age-groups, rich/poor, and on and on – in order to gain power. We have become separated from each other under the pretense of making everything “equal and fair”.

I understand that alone we come into this world, and alone we shall leave it. I just thought we could spend a little time together in between.

Commercials

WAtching-TVI listen to the TV and scratch my eyebrow: “While taking Ciallis don’t drink in excess” – what? we can go ahead and drink in excess if we don’t use Ciallis?
“Use caution when operating machinery” – good advice. and,
“Call your doctor if having an erection lasting more than four hours” – my all time favorite. What the hell? First off, who knows a doctor who can be reached at 3:30 in the morning, second: is this really a problem you need to mention on EVERY “male enhancement” commercial? I strongly suspect that the advertisers are trying to create fear in men of underperforming when NOT using their dang pills…

Then there is the always popular, “…but wait, there is more”, as if we are all rushing to the telephone, but must halt to become aware of an even greater deal.

Other brilliant phrases heard on the air-ways: “The police is trying to track down the alleged perpetrator…” No, the police is probably trying to find the criminal, and when they catch him he will become the alleged perpetrator, but trust me, they are looking for the real guy.

When the police are tracking someone with a “canine unit” – it’s a damn dog, guys. It’s a DOG.

Also, have you noticed that something is always “absolutely free”, never “free”. What is the difference? The same difference between “no parking” and “absolutely no parking”? or the other version, “No parking any time”, which also seems to be a bit of judicial overreach, since “any time” means that “from before the dinasours roamed the earth until the sun becomes a supernova – there will be no parking on this spot”.

And how can anyone assure me that there is “absolutely no risk” in ordering a product? How do they know? The UPS driver could lose control and plow through my rhododendrons, I could drop the package on my butterfly collection, or the woman I’m with could hate the color, and leave me forever.

Ahh. I feel a little better now…

The Thoughtful Man

thinker

There is a breed of men fading towards the horizon:  The Thoughtful Man.

Today we have no time for thought.  Always in a hurry, modern life is a place where decisions are already made and personal opinions are considered a hindrance to achieving the greater good.  A man who goes about his day in an unhurried way and thinks about life, discusses ideas with others – used to be called thoughtful and thought of with a smile.

I was recently called a thoughtful man.  Spoken by a woman as a description, perhaps not even meant as a compliment allthough I took is as one.  It reminded me of thoughtful men (and women) I have met.  The conversations, places under stars, under palm-trees, by the ocean, in the desert, in hot tubs or riding in cars – truth and friendships so fully consumed among souls on their journey…

Those were pivotal moments in my life, life-changing sometimes, that gave soul and strength for journeys to come.   Now the screens have come to entertain the masses, and answers and opinions are offered like food from a buffet. There is no reason to think – only to choose among the options presented.

A Final Note:

When we say, “Everyone has an opinion”,  it is not true, because thoughts are not opinions.  A thoughtful man is one who considers his thoughts and then (though not always) forms an opinion.

– Just a thought.

 

Perspective 2015

From where I’m sitting

750x319xdynamic-tower.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Z2Oo4n7922The World is like a tall building with each floor being pushed in one lateral direction or another.  Miraculously the building is still standing, but if too many floors were to end up pushing out in the same direction everything would collapse.

A Universe of Systems.

Although each floor is trying to influence the floor above and below, it is mostly a world onto itself.  The floors are stratospheres called Politics, World Bank, Religions, Sports, Entertainment, Unions, Industries like Oil and Environmental “Protection” Bureaucracies – all pushing their agenda and constantly growing in size.  Everything in this Universe of Systems seems driven forward by individuals with a strong desire for power – and no or little interest in solving problems.  Today a decent person, modest and humble could not desire the office of President of the United States.  First, consider the level of hatred he/she would encounter from those who rely on corruption. Any act of the past immediately becomes fair game to view and judge.  Second, the arena of politics must be like being in a swamp with no boat.  A decent man would have to be either a fool or commanded personally by God to enter politics.  Thirdly, the money need to mount a campaign also necessitates deals to be made with people and/or organizations expecting big favors later.  Finally We the People apparently pay government workers above the market and High Officials way below the going rate for geniuses.  How much? Around $260.00 for a President, I heard.  A powerful CEO can cash in $10 Mil in the open market.  It seems the voting public realized they could not get good leaders, only lesser of two evils,  and settled for the best entertainer they could get.

You Call That News?

What I see in 2015 is that the so-called News that most people watch is regulated to the precise degree it takes to pacify the population.  How, I don’t know.  In ancient Rome they had the Colosseum to keep the people from bothering the officials with pesky questions like “are we being invaded?”.  Today with have Big-Screen TV.  There we can show people’s limbs being torn off in the best tradition of the ColoWAtching-TVsseum – and the programmers also make the people laugh, get them angry, vote one way or another – while at the same time buying Viagra, lawn movers and fat-diets as advertised.  The screen is now the ultimate “reality”.  A reporter after a tornado stood in the wreckage of a small town and said,  It’s like being in a movie….  No, Darling, I heard myself say, It is the movie that is like the hurricane.  The screen has flavors of orientation, but the same stories are shared between all the networks.  Scandals are rotated once a week, murders of blond women usually last a month – events come and go like soap-operas that never ends.  They say that America learns geography by foreign wars.  Network News is based on selling commercials and regulated by supporting a mindset.  The News reports on  increasingly frightening events, but not so scary or confronting that the viewer turns it off.  The news selects the conversations people are having, by choosing what to report,  then it offers the viewer “choice” by offering two perspectives, usually Left or Right, Right or Wrong, Good or Bad and so henceforth.

Zombieotics (the art of creating zombies)

Americans are, and have been primed, “informed” about issues of fashion, attitudes, symbols of success and function of government from the get-go of television.  In Russia, the man who is driving the country back to communism has an 80% approval rating.  The Russian media spins news one way, the American media another and it works for one simple reason: Humans are gullible. We may know we are watching a screen, but it doesn’t matter. Humans have forever been able to trust their eyes told them the truth.  I’ll will believe it when I see it,  we say.  It is in our DNA, just like our fear of heights and animals with sharp teeth is instinctual.  If humans have been walking the planet for a hundred thousand years, then let us note that it is only for the last thirty that we have been habitually watching things that did not exist. Virtual Reality is now reality.  The same way a doughnut pretends to be food, news is ingested by pretending to be truth.

The Danes say, The reason there will never be a revolution in Denmark is that there is too little time between the meals.  The reason Americans are not reaching for their pitchforks is that they first have to see the next segment of their mini-series.  We are being entertained to death, and most folks don’t seem to mind also being lied to.  Some even find it comforting.

When polled 50% prefer chocolate, the other 50% vanilla.  That’s what happens in the absence of leadership.

Still we are still in a world where rocks are hard and water is wet.  Ignorance may be bliss, but it is becoming a luxury item we cannot afford.  I believe that unless we get real leaders very soon America is as doomed as the proverbial snowball.  We will again be slaves in our own systems.

Happy New Year.