Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: liberty

The Freedom to Say No

How to do I put this? Hmm…

I loved and hated this book at the same time? No, that’s not right. I agreed with some, disagreed with other parts, sure. I agree on the problem, but not the solution, maybe.

freedom to say no
Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash

While reading the essay Disobedience as a…Problem, I kept thinking about how we raised our sons. The answer “no” was always an option. When I tell people that, their response is usually, “Sure but there are consequences, right?”

Depends on what you mean. Punitive ones? Like, “You have said no, so now you’ll be ostracized or punished?” No. I wouldn’t have asked if you weren’t allowed to say no.

I don’t ask you not to hurt me. I tell you not to and I enforce that. If there is no other option at the moment, like I must stop at the post office and you cannot stay in the car, I don’t ask if you want to come inside with me. Those commands are few and far between.

Just about everything was optional in our family, negotiable. We worked together as much as possible toward a common goal, living in the same house and being happy and comfortable. And they learned to be more and more reasonable as they grew up into adults.

In most families, this isn’t so. Everything is a command from above, in every situation. We raise children as slaves to adult lives, until they are “of age” and then kick them out into the world and expect them to act as reasonable adults without any practice. Like putting a person in jail for 18 years, dictating every move, and then setting them free and saying, “Now continue on your own.”

And most of us do. What we need is to act like independent, reasoning, masters of our own lives, but we don’t have those skills. We only have slave skills, and they don’t serve us well at all. When things aren’t working, we look to government to solve the problems for us, just like our parents and teachers taught us to do.

Seems like a job security thing for politicians and other so-called “leaders.” Independent humans aren’t easily controlled.

In my experience, acting as an adult human is frowned upon. You’re a fool and treated as such, especially if you encourage others to take the reins of their own lives.

Disobedience is the answer, not the problem. We shouldn’t be “obeying” anyone.

I haven’t even quoted this book or presented his ideas to you. I’m not sure how. The book is so short, 91 pages. If I pull any one line out, I’d have to pull the whole page, and then…why not read the book?

There were four essays in this book, all of which I agreed with the premises of, except the last on “Humanist Socialism.” Why? Because I love the goals and principles of socialism, but I don’t see it working well anywhere in the world. And I don’t even have the words to describe why. That’s one of the reasons I keep studying it.

When my first reaction is, “Wonderful fantasy, but how do you get there from here?” I’m reminded of the reactions to my family’s choice of lifestyle and education. They can’t see what we are doing from their vantage point. Is that my problem when I look at socialism? Maybe.

My thoughts always go back to, “If this is so wonderful and perfect, and able to be done without the use of force and coercion, then why doesn’t someone build a working community like this on their own? Why do we have to have it as a form of government?”

Start with your own family, your own community. “If you build it, they will come.” If a socialist utopia works, more people will want to be in it, and it will spread. Right?

I’m not sure, only because of my experience with my sons. Sitting in a karate class, the teacher tells me, “Your sons are focused and dedicated. I can tell you strict with them, no backtalk and video games.” When I told him that our lives are quite the opposite, that we live without rules and they are treated as equals, play video games all they want, and are quite adept at “backtalk,” he just scoffed and walked away.

It feels insane, like everyone around me is seeing the world they want to see, not reality. Am I any different? I don’t believe I am.

To me it seems the best thing any of us can do is live our own lives and leave everyone else alone to do the same. That’s crazy talk to everyone else. When I started this book, I thought the author was headed down that road, but then the last chapter is how we can start a socialist utopia by taking all the power away from whoever has it now and redistributing it.

Whoa…it’s Tolkien’s Rings of Power. I’ll take this power to set things right and then give it back. But no one ever wants to give it back. The power corrupts, always. There is no utopia, socialist, capitalist, industrial, agrarian, or otherwise.

A side note: If you’re curious about the concept of unschooling (life without school instead of school at home), I highly recommend checking out Pam Laricchia’s work. And I’m always open to conversations about our experience, through email or over the phone.

Steering Toward a Better View on Drug Use

Drug Use for Grown-Ups by Dr. Carl L. Hart is filled with details documenting why and how our public view on drug use has become so…wrong.

“Attention-grabbing headlines claiming that opioids (or any other drug) are killing people are wrong. Ignorance and poverty are killing people, just as they have for centuries.”

“It’s also important to know that it is difficult to disentangle politics from science when dealing with a federal organization such as NIDA.”

The studies he cites and the experience he’s had, along with his feelings about drug use and its effects lead me to believe, once again, that we’ve been led in the wrong direction by…politicians, “morality”, and sheer ignorance. The so-called “war on drugs” has been going on my whole life and every year it only gets worse, according to the news. What if we did something totally crazy and tried something different?

“It took me nearly twenty years and dozens of scientific publications in the area of neuropsychopharmacology to recognize my own biases against amphetamines. I can only hope that you don’t require as much time and scientific activity in order to understand why reasonable adults might use this class of drugs. And I hope this knowledge engenders less judgement against and greater empathy for people who use amphetamines.”

I’m not going to go through all the truth bombs that are dropped in this book. I’d just be rewriting it. But I highly recommend reading it yourself. His research and perspective may get our country closer to being a bit more reasonable and compassionate toward those that use drugs and maybe even other areas where we’ve decided to butt into other people’s choices.

“It also wasn’t lost on me that in medicine, methamphetamine is used to improve the lives of patients. Recreational users take it to feel good and increase energy. In short, amphetamines help make people feel better. How can we be against people pursuing happiness?”

“I don’t entirely know why this is the case, but my guess is that it has something to do with the misguided puritanical values that are so pervasive in our education and that disproportionately regulate our behaviors. I think H.L. Mencken put it best when he defined puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

And every time we make laws to “protect” people from themselves, we only create more problems that radiate out into the world to cause more and more suffering. At what point will we as a species learn to leave other people alone to live as they see fit?

“The totality of the evidence shows that on the overwhelming majority of measures, the cognitive performance of marijuana-exposed children does not differ from that of control subjects. Furthermore, even when there is an observed statistical difference, it is inappropriate to conclude that that difference equates a deficit, or that it has an impact on the daily functioning of an individual.”

This: Different does not mean deficient. Why is that so hard for everyone to understand? It brings me back to my experience with my children and public education. Because I learn differently does not mean there is anything wrong with me. Because I live, love, act, differently does not mean I need to be fixed. Why do feel this compulsion to fix everyone around us and make everyone exactly the same?

As you can see, this book is bringing up quite a bit of an emotional response in me. I’m not even touching the experience of racism that the author relates within these pages, not to mention police activity surrounding drug use and poverty here and in other countries.

I’ll probably be in this book for another day or two, so you’ll get at least one more post from me about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this book, or plan to.

Drug Use for Grown-Ups: New Read

Back in February, I posted in Podcast Roundup that I had heard Dr. Carl L. Hart interviewed on People I (Mostly) Admire for the second time. The first time was back in May of 2021. His reasoning and research about legal drug use was so good that I wanted to know more, so I purchased his book, Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, back in March and I’m finally getting to reading it.

He starts with this quote:

“If people let government decide what food they eat and medicines to take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” -Thomas Jefferson*

“*I recognize that Thomas Jefferson and other revered historical figures enslaved black people. This was reprehensible even during their time. But the cruel hypocrisy of these individuals’ actions does not negate the noble ideal and vision articulated in their writings. These enshrined principles give us goals to which we continue to aspire.”

With that presented as the first words of his prologue, I’m now open to not only learning more about his views on drug use but also his views on racism. The book is a two-for-one deal.

“Too often, the conversation about recreational drug use is hijacked by peddlers of pathology as if addiction is inevitable for everyone who takes drugs. It is not. Seventy prevent or more of drug users – whether they use alcohol, cocaine, prescription medications, or other drugs – do not meet the criteria for drug addiction.”

Two things here, the first of which is the phrase “peddlers of pathology.” Why is it that everything lately is a pathology, something to abnormal to diagnosed and cured by a professional?

The second is something I’ve been thinking for a long time. If all the nasty headlines and studies are true, that all the drugs are so terribly addictive with horrible consequences for taking any amount at all, then why do I know so many healthy and productive people, living normal lives while occasionally taking them? I’m hoping this book will shed light on that.

“Outside the drug world, each one of us, on a daily basis, takes measures to prevent illnesses and to improve our health and safety. We brush our teeth, wear seatbelts, use condoms, exercise. We don’t call it harm reduction; we call it common sense, prevention, education, or some other neutral name.

… the term harm reduction obfuscates the fact that most people use drugs to enhance experiences, to bring about euphoria – for pleasure.

For example, traveling via car presents potential risks to one’s health as well as potential benefits that impact one’s happiness. Wearing a seatbelt, replacing tires so they are not worn, and making sure the brakes and windshield wipers function properly – all can be conceptualized as “health and happiness” strategies.”

That is a great point. I’ve only recently heard the term “harm reduction” and I thought it was a useful idea. Why not, instead of allowing people to kill themselves on a product, help them use it more safely? But we don’t do that at all. We have deemed a product dangerous and if you kill yourself or others doing it, then that’s on you. You’re the idiot that did what we told you not to do.

It sounds so…parental. Like we’re all children that just have to do stupid things the adults tell us not to, for no other reason than to be contrary. FYI – I don’t think children do this at all. They do what they feel does them the best good and we’re supposed to be helping them learn to listen to themselves and make the best judgement for themselves.

Instead of screaming, “DRUGS BAD! And you’re a horrible person if you want to try them and you’ll die if you do!” I’ve taught my children the positives of drug use, why someone would want the drug, and the dangers of drug use that I’m aware of. There are positives. We do know that, right?

This book has already begun to enlighten me upon another point of view, that maybe the “research” has been interpreted in some fairly biased ways, that possibly the outright banning of a substance that brings many people plenty of happiness is only increasing the chances of problems, violence and death, instead of lessening it. And, as I already suspected, hurts the poor and ignorant more than anyone else.

Why do we have such a need to control what other people do with their own bodies?

More posts on this book…
Steering Toward a Better View on Drug Use
Is It Time to End the Drug War?

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