Several days ago, I was showing my mother-in-law the patio area in my office building. It’s not just any office building, to be sure. It’s 90 offices of artists - graphic designers, painters, sculptors, and, well, me.
So, I open the door on two twenty-somethings calmly wrapping their lips around ganga sticks. They looked at me with barely a flicker of distress. I looked back at them disinterestedly and pointed to the little garden off to the side.
“So, this is the patio,” I said to my mother-in-law.
As we walked back through the building, she laughed. “Well, in a few months, it’ll all be legal anyway.”
She was more right than she knew. Even as she spoke Andrew Cuomo was working on passing medical marijuana laws in New York State. Because, you know, the one thing New York needs is (jobs?) more controlled substances.
Then I’m out in the park yesterday and I see a girl wearing a D.A.R.E anti-drug shirt. Based solely on a superficial profile of her - her race (white), age (twenties), style (East Village) and friends (giggling), I’m going to assume she was wearing it ironically.
I remember when we took drugs seriously as a country. From “Just Say No” to “This is Your Brain on Drugs,” there was a cultural push against drugs. Obviously, there was an enforcement push as well. No, the War on Drugs wasn’t ever a glowing success. But at least the country was aligned together on the side of the angels, fighting against the demon weed.
And now? Hell, even agencies from the FBI to DOD are seriously considering ignoring drug use or drug offenses in the hiring process. It makes sense - as they grow their cyber commands, they need good hackers and counter-hackers. And you don’t find many cyber gods who can piss clean these days.
So, being a reflective kind of person, I started musing about where we’re headed as a country. (And this is different from any other day, how? - Chaco the dog). What happened? How have we fallen so far, so fast?
Was it the counterculture? The 1960’s? Haight-Ashbury? Was it Bill Clinton smoking, but not inhaling? Or was it the triumph of an ideological partnership of libertarianism and liberalism? Was it Nick Gillespie aligning with Barack Obama? Or was it just human nature - are we just hard-wired to be addicts?
It’s all of them, probably, to some degree.
But I’d add one other element. There is an element of narcissism, a need for instant gratification and a general complacency that left this country unmoored its founding morals, ethics and identity. I can’t help but wonder to what degree ridding ourselves of the draft contributed. Without any physical obligation to the country, men could be children, education replaced experience and we convinced ourselves that we were the ones we had been waiting for (to coin a phrase).
Look, the draft is no cure-all. (Even with my modifications to the draft). I mean, it didn’t stop the drug culture of the 1960’s. But maybe it might have retarded the growth of the drug culture of the ’10’s.
The War on Terror has a lot in common with the War on Drugs. Both wars are/were being fought against the subtle ideologies of our lesser angels. Both enemies tempt us to succumb to their addictions, their lusts, their ravages. OK, before I start sounding like Jonathan Edwards, they also have helped each other. The Mexican drug cartels have helped smuggle Hezbollah into the US - and taught them Spanish. Afghanistan supplies 80% of the world’s heroin and opium.
So it’s only natural to ask - at what point will we wave the white flag against Terror as well?