I have a strong case of ‘Kronic fatigue.’ Yes that is spelt correct as I am referring to synthetic cannabis. The mainstream media and blogosphere is ‘buzzing’ with erudite perspectives on legal substances. I don’t want to get started on the idea of banning them until they have been tested on animals to be proven safe, as I fear I might just rant.
I’ve already talked about ‘altered states of consciousness’ in earlier pieces such as ‘Down the rabbit hole.’
I was also surprised and delighted to learn recently that animals like to have these experiences.
This is not the same as putting them through forced testing regimes! So if this is happening in nature, which we are part of (but have done a good job of convincing ourselves we are not) how can we make sense of the sensationalised, emotive and at times distorted information without ‘going out of our minds.’
Part of the assumption around drug use is that people are trying to escape life or numb pain – of all kinds. Yes it can be like this, but I also believe it is more complex, rich and even interesting than simple self medication. Let’s not forget alcohol is a drug in this dialogue as it most definitely alters consciousness.
Here are some things I have been mulling over – as have others but hope it might add to conversations and possibly subvert some of the well worn rhetoric, or over-simplistic ‘hugs not drugs’ type statements. I do have a firm belief however that children and young people most definitely are vulnerable. Their brains and sense of self need careful nurturing and protecting. I want to be clear I am not advocating for ‘anything goes.’
First off we need to stop attaching harm to the taking or using of drugs based on their imposed legal status. We have a default setting that says ‘if it is illegal it is bad or dangerous.’ Making some legal or illegal isn’t always about protecting people from danger. Power, control and politics are big players.
Let’s try to accept that we are all pleasure seekers and enjoy altered states of consciousness. Kids spin to get dizzy, laughing and exercise produce endorphins, and amusement parks reek of adrenaline. The more we try and suppress, deny, or make wrong aspects of self that are natural and healthy – the more harm we do I think.
This might push a few buttons but I feel we need to shift the focus of education away from facts about harm, google has that covered! Scare tactics have proven to be pointless – I’ve looked into it, and only make a difference to those who are already risk averse. Risk takers will still take risks – no matter what graphic consequences you put in front of them – that goes for drugs, sex, driving at high speed. But what to ‘teach’ in a world where information is at your finger tips. We ask young people to put ‘life on hold’ until they are grown up enough. Our challenge is to reintegrate desire, pleasure seeking, and all emotional experiences. Education needs an overhaul in my humble opinion – others have called for it as well. But I think education currently serves other interests.
There are some fantastic innovative teachers battling these constraints. To you I say ‘every conversation changes a person.’
Let’s ask the question, why are we anaesthetising ourselves so much? Surely if we need to escape reality or in that much pain we should be investigating the causes – not just at an individual level as a form of weakness but the more critical ‘meaning of life stuff’ angle. I think this is worth doing anyway, our worshiping of consumption and everything that is built around ensuring we ‘buy into it’ has probably had the most profound effect on humanity.
It would be great if we could look critically at how demonising certain kinds of drugs and ‘saviourising’ (if there is such a word) others has served the interests of very powerful institutions. This has been a well engineered and intentional process. Unravelling some of the historical and political decisions that underpin our current ideas helps to open space to thinking differently.
Finally, I firmly believe we need to be more open to altered states as a concept. Opening our minds to other possibilities and realms has been part of all cultures. Someone speaking out about this is Graeme Hancock. His perspective is so threatening his TED talk was banned – thank goodness for YouTube!
Historically artists used opiates to access other aspects of creativity, enlightenment, inspiration for example part of Samuel Taylor Cooleridge’s Kubla Khan was written after an opium induced dream.
New Zealand is currently wresting with synthetic cannabis as a hot political topic running up to an election…are we ready to take the debate in a new direction? I hope so.
If we are going to insist on being stuck going around in circles – then at least make sure to ‘pass the Dutchie to the left hand side.’