By Kenneth Justice
“You give marijuana users a bad name!”
~ A couple weeks ago I was back in my hometown and was sitting at coffee with a good friend of mine when an old acquaintance of ours stopped in, we hadn’t seen him in a long time,
“What have you been up to dude?” we asked
“Not much” he said
Though it was a mere two word answer, it turns out that it accurately encompassed what he’d been doing for the last year since I saw him last; not much at all.
Our acquaintance has an Undergraduate Degree in Liberal Arts and almost finished his Master’s Degree in education a few years ago, but dropped out because he got somewhat disillusioned with the college experience. He was working a steady job after he dropped out, but since I saw him last he apparently quit his job and has been couch surfing on whatever sofa he can find; he’s basically homeless with less than a few dollars to his name. Thankfully, he has parents that put just enough money in his bank account at the beginning of every month to cover the cost of food, although it sounds like he usually runs out of money before months end because he buys a lot of marijuana.
“Dude, don’t you think you’re the type of person that gives marijuana users a bad name? It seems like you’re just smoking your life away” my friend asked the acquaintance
He looked at us and shrugged, “I don’t really spend much time thinking about things like that, I prefer to just live in the moment” he said
I’m always conflicted when I think about subjects like that; living in the moment or looking to the future. There have been times in my life where I ‘lived in the moment’ where I lived in the moment for long periods of time and at a certain point I woke up and realize I was a lot older than I used to be.
This isn’t to say that I want to constantly be obsessed with looking toward the future; with that kind of attitude I imagine it’s easy to become stressed out and ridden with anxiety. Obviously the answer to this issue as with other subjects is balance; yet finding the proper balance between living in the moment and looking to the future isn’t always clear cut.
I also wonder what it is with chemical substances like marijuana and alcohol that becomes so attractive to people. Have you ever noticed that it seems like more people than not tend to abuse such substances than to maintain healthy attitudes toward them?
Working as a substance abuse counselor I often saw the extremes regarding chemical substance abuse; yet in most cases the people merely began as casual drinkers or casual smokers. However, I want to be careful in what I’m saying because I’m not trying to infer that drinking or smoking is inherently wrong or evil…..not at all. But it does seem that people in Western Culture tend to go to the extremes in most everything we do.
An acquaintance of mine recently returned from Italy and was telling me all about her experiences there and specifically how impressed she was with the wine culture of Italy, “It was amazing to me how integral wine was with the families I stayed with during my trip and how it was treated in a rather normative manner; nobody set out to get drunk each night the way we often do here in the States when we go to the bar with our friends, drinking wine was merely a nice accompaniment to our meals and the social experience” she said.
Could it be that some countries like the United States are raising our children to be too indulgent and too obsessive; an ‘all or nothing attitude’ so to speak?
When I was in college I spent a lot of time researching peer-reviewed articles on the binge drinking culture of college campuses. The United States is one of the few countries that has adopted the attitude that binge drinking in college is considered to be something of a ‘rite of passage’. I wrote a comparative analysis at the time between Asian culture and American culture and demonstrated the way Asian families tend to place a much greater emphasis academic excellence during the undergraduate years of college, while American born youth tend to look at the first couple years of college as a time of drinking and drug experimentation.
With so many states in the U.S. moving toward marijuana legalization I wonder if we will one day be able to create a culture among our youth where marijuana is viewed as nothing more than a once-in-a-while recreational activity, or whether we will be forever plagued with the all-or-nothing attitude that seems to currently plague our society.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
Categories: Culture & Society