A while ago I ran into a former classmate, someone I hadn’t seen for almost 20 years. After exchanging pleasantries, he told me, unsolicited, that he had smoked marijuana every day for the past 25 years. He communicated this particular statistic with pride, a sterling accomplishment, as if he had discovered a cure for cancer, or had won the Superbowl.
He was presently the manager of a 7-11.
It broke my heart.
A young man, 19 years old, was recently interviewed on the radio. He was on his way to a medical marijuana shop to pick up his pot medication. He said that he had been experiencing anxiety, and a Doctor had written him a prescription for pot. He said he was too anxious to work.
Anxiety? If you step out your front door you are confronted with anxiety. It’s part of the human condition. The tragedy here is that this man will be forever unemployable, made permanently disabled by his medical marijuana prescription. If you were a business owner, would you hire this guy?
This wasted potential broke my heart.
My old classmate was a guy who I remembered as being smart, ambitious, dynamic, possessed of an intelligence capable of accomplishing great things, but here he was planted at his apex, managing a 7-11, and damn proud of it.
He had never been married, had probably never experience a deep passionate relationship, or a deep intimacy with another person, had probably never sought a job that was fulfilling, or challenging, that was impactful on society—I doubt he even considered it. Because of his pot smoking, he shielded himself from the rich kaleidoscope of life, denying himself the experience of any raw, deep emotions such as heartbreak, or love. Because of his pot smoking, he would never give himself the opportunity to experience deep, ineffable joy, or passion that comes from active engagement in life. Pot afforded him a safe harbor, a lowered bar, denying him a life full of purpose, passion, and achievement. He was devoid of goals or plans for the future.
His journey was a twenty-five-year atrophy from people, family, goals, intimacy, and challenge—elements that forge character and growth, the good stuff. He just wanted to get high. He probably ceased asking himself the big questions long ago: who am I, what is my purpose, my destiny, questions all shrouded under the haze of pot smoke.
He was apolitical, considered all politicians corrupt, so why bother to vote, or to participate in this grand experiment of democracy.
Now someone might say, well, your friend isn’t hurting anyone, and he generates a paycheck, pays his taxes.
That’s true, but my point is this: why settle? Why not pursue greatness? It is the most fun. We as a society condoned mediocrity, a lowering of the bar, fueled by the Drug Industrial Complex. Because it is legal, we let the pot industry, the vaping industry, the pharmaceutical industry set the bar as to our aspirations and dreams. We offer no resistance and blindly ingest the propaganda that getting high and pursuing materialism is cool, will produce fulfillment. And what’s even more egregious, these attitudes trickle down to our children, which in turn puts their life of meaning, and purpose in final jeopardy.
This really is about our children, the people most vulnerable, most susceptible to the insidious sales pitch of the drug industrial complex. (For example, kids in foster care are on 27% more medications than other kids their age. Because they have no advocate, no rights, they are easily exploited given their cash cow status. Would the pharmaceutical industry take advantage of a defenseless class solely for profit—you bet your ass they would.) We do a disservice to our children if we allow their aspirations to settle to the ceiling of a 7-11 store manager. There is a battle for the hearts and minds of our children, and it is an information battlefield. Both the scientific community and pot industry agrees that marijuana inhibits the growth of the brain for up to 25 years of age. Making pot illegal is not a solution, so the burden falls onto parents, grandparents, and friends to reboot the inherent dreams and aspirations of our future generations. Given the challenges our society is tasked with, future generations need to be present, dedicated, and clear-eyed in order to confront society’s enormous challenges: global warming, racial divide, gun control, the wealth gap, the Military Industrial Complex, drug abuse, women’s rights, etc., etc. We must appeal to, exhort, and insist on the development of character, character so fortified that it refuses to succumb to the sales pitch of lessened awareness and titillation.
Now I recognize that a lot of citizens could probably manage a 7-11 while smoking pot every night. I guess you could say they have every right to do that.
But why settle? Is this the level of aspiration we want for our kids? We need to restore and protect our children’s ability to dream, to hope, to aspire to the impossible. Our future democracy’s infrastructure is dependent on this preservation. We must do this before the Drug Industrial Complex locks their vice grip around the souls of our children.
A person is alive to the degree he is saturated with hopes and dreams. Pot sabotages ones’ hopes and dreams. It subverts ones’ innate courage. We have an obligation to unleash onto the world a generation of dreamers, imbued with the idea that the impossible is possible, that being the manager of a 7-11 just won’t cut it. Let us unleash a generation of dreamers—no telling what impact that may have on the world.