OPPONENTS of the proposal to decriminalize possessing small amounts of
marijuana are now posing variants of the thin-edge-of-the-wedge argument,
which has been applied routinely to major social-cultural issues from
abortion (leads to infanticide) to the domino theory of communist aggression.

Failing to appreciate the limits social and personal decisions make, and
the law prescribes, it presupposes that once something starts, it will
inevitably grow to intolerable proportions. When thinking of drug
subcultures, try these on: "I am unfit to live with until I've had my first
cup of coffee," "You need a nice cuppa tea to calm you down," "I've had a
tough day, I need a drink." Most people rely on aids to relax or be
stimulated. But using drugs goes beyond mood enhancement. From earliest
antiquity, people have sought ways to alter their consciousness. It all
stems from self-attentiveness necessary to our functioning, but often
burdensome and vexatious lives. We are aware of ourselves; we are aware
that we are aware; and we are aware of that, in an almost infinite
regression terminated only by intellectual exhaustion. While this awareness
is the crux of human consciousness, it is an isolating experience, often
making us quite uncomfortable, even desperate, to avoid it, especially at
the malignant doses in which it often manifests. Religion and spirituality,
involvement with music, dance, art, poetry, are some of the forms we use to
go beyond the bounds of self-awareness.

They provide the experience at the heart of all meditative and
contemplative practices that help us develop a sense of connection with our
non-self.

The philosopher Martin Buber described this as the difference between I-it
and I-thou. In the former, when one looks at a tree, its properties are
perceived. The I-thou (the "thou" being an archaic form of familiarity),
emphasizes the intimacy with non-self, in which there is no awareness of
specific properties or of use value, parameters dissolved in communion with
"the other" to which we are connected in a non-rational, non-functional way.

Obviously, not all drugs have the same effect It is nonetheless important
to realize that drugs and drug-like experiences have always been, and will
undoubtedly continue to be, part of the human condition, or at least, the
softening of its isolating boundaries.

Eugene Kaellis, is a former researcher for a large pharmaceutical company
and author.


Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2003
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 North Shore News
Contact: editor@nsnews.com
Website: http://www.nsnews.com/