Drugged to death
Drug abuse in USA is now acknowledged as serious and worrying. Most societies are affected by it. The problem is deep-rooted and fundamental. It is being tackled, albeit rather tentatively. What are the causes of drug abuse in a world so full of opportunity and interest? What does expectation have to do with satisfaction in life’s logic? How can we tackle the wish to seek oblivion rather than appreciation, sensation rather than sensing?
We all take drugs at one time or another. Often they won’t be recognised because they are not opiates or cocaine. Pathological behaviour is as much a drug as narcotics, if less physically damaging. Compulsive gambling, drinking, sex, shopping are all drugs of a sort. We indulge in them to see if we can get more out of life, sometimes to forget our disastrous youth, often to expunge the memories of abuse and mistreatment we have suffered.
We ask that humans should use their lives to seek the truth but complain when they do so by means we don’t approve of. All exploration is fraught with failure but we still often refuse to accept failure as learning. Is experimenting with drugs therefore legitimate searching? Trouble is you don’t see yourself as addicted until you are finally flawed by it. ”I can always give it up” is the siren song of the addict. “Tomorrow” is the siren voice of seduction.
Many parts of society are addicted to a hedonistic way of life. Their pleasure is manufactured not created. We undervalue what we are given. We truly value what we create ourselves – especially true where children are concerned. They are much prouder of, and happier with, a toy or game they have invented themselves, however amateur, than with some highly sophisticated purchase. To give your children the greatest gift, teach them creativity.
We think excess is proof of happiness when in practice the opposite is true. Noise, violence, obscenities all mascaraed as ‘adult’ when we know very well they are pathetically juvenile. Respect for others is breached in the interests of knowledge, even though we also know that reticence and modesty are longer lasting than the most frenetic exposé.
I see that more people are beginning to realise the need for purpose in their lives. Not just individually but also collectively. Our ability to reach and colonise other planets, to begin to understand our human state and the way our brains work, to see in the fairly near future the possibility of immortality, gives us powers over nature that were not dreamed of even a few years ago. Making good use of new powers is not easy. The nuclear bomb taught us that. Restraint and moderation take on a new urgency when annihilation is a possible consequence of our behaviour. We still have some way to go even with that simple lesson.
There is no perfect order, no flawless system that will ensure our steady progress. Trial and error will continue be the commonest way of making progress for a long time to come. But let us teach the young the horrors of ‘cold turkey’ and the pain that drug addiction brings to a family. It is wise to warn us about the weaker side of our natures while we are children.
Whether you are a globalisor or and isolator it is never too early to teach moderation and sensitivity. It is nearly 400 years since Donne said “No man is an island”.
His words seem prescient today.