All over the world, the war on drugs hurts, incarcerates and kills people. It is an abomination.
Over the next two decades, we will overcome the war on drugs. Historically, it will be a liberatory development for all of humanity. We will witness an end to so much unnecessary death, suffering and waste, that hindsight will view the advance as a major step in human enlightenment. I've talked about the many reasons - historical, political, economic - for my optimism. Today, I will give another reason: my faith in humanity.
Though I'd like to get more 'likes' for my HufPost columns, pictures of toddlers and puppies doing cute things will always have me licked. Many snotty intellectuals in my shoes would find that offensive, and complain about how shallow people can be. Well, here is one snotty intellectual who sees it differently: if people hit "like" in response to toddlers, puppies, or for that matter chipmunks, it's because they have such a huge capacity for affection that a chance to express it will earn their gratitude.
While we all know that humanity has this tendency, other (unpleasant) tendencies are also evident. What does it take for the loving and caring instincts to prevail? I just gave it away by invoking instinct. We are tribal by nature - there is no getting away from that - and only with that part of us satisfied can the best instincts bloom.
During the First World War, soldiers in the trenches were often moved around to new locations. You see, during a ceasefire, you might exchange a few words with your enemies on the other side of the trench. After a joke or two, they might even invite you for a drink. So you got to know each other. When the fighting was to resume, you might look over at the fellow you're supposed to shoot.
"Hey wait, that's Fritz! I'm not gonna shoot Fritz. He's not such a bad shit (for a kraut). He even showed me a picture of the girl he wants to marry, and he loves her just like I love my own sweetheart. Screw you Sergeant!"
In order to keep the war going they had to move this soldier, and Fritz, to new locations.
Overcoming assorted prejudices and hatreds has involved assorted struggles, yet here is one constant: whether the person is of a different sexual orientation, a different colour, or just the fan of a different football team, when we connect and realize how much we have in common, the hatred and bigotry start to melt.
More and more, due both to personal acquaintance and media acquaintance (real life TV, movie star worship, and other stuff) drug users, drug addicts, their families and their stories, are more familiar and hence harder to demonize.
The drug war is on the way out for many reasons - economic, political, historical - but here is another: people will, in the end, choose affectionate and kinder options over preachy and resentful ones. Despite all of my clever social and political critiques, I also know that, in part, advances in social justice stem from the same impulse that cause people to appreciate puppies, toddlers, chipmunks and, of course, Fritz.
Oh, I know, there are many reasons to be cynical about humanity - too many to list. I haven't discussed them here, because for the purpose of this discussion they don't matter. Despite all the other nasty stupidities that may still continue, on this point at least our better instincts are starting to prevail: more and more people are questioning and challenging this abomination we call the war on drugs. They get to know more addicts personally, or just through papers and the TV - and then we're right back to Fritz. He's not perfect, but he's one of us too, isn't he?
No matter how corny it may sound, love really is the answer. So as that old song says, put a little love in your heart. We really can make the world a better place, and I call on each and every one of you to look honestly within yourself. Forget what you've been taught, along with the many baseless fears that have been rammed into your soul, and just ask yourself if you really desire the murder and degradation of others. If not, you will side with humanity, and against the war on drugs.
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