Donald Trump has been president for about 2 weeks, and already the country is in crisis.
His policies are deeply divisive, and have sparked massive protests across the nation. As well as alienating other countries, including our closest allies. He is one of the most controversial and unpopular incoming presidents in history, and he is surrounding himself with one of the most corrupt and inept cabinets in history. And most of us, here in the U.S. and around the world, are still in shock, wondering, “How the hell did this happen?”
Trump rose to power because he managed to unite conservative America. He did this by pitting them against a common enemy — or, more accurately, enemies. Which include immigrants (especially Muslims and Mexicans), foreigners, the media, and even liberals and progressives here at home. Really, anyone who looks or thinks differently from rural, white, conservative Christians.
He is a classic example of a “demagogue,” someone who achieves political power by appealing to people’s fears and prejudices, rather than advocating rational policies.
And he definitely isn’t the only one.
Has The Whole World Gone Crazy?
Perhaps you’ve heard of Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines. He made headlines because of his scathing comments about Barack Obama (he told him to “go to hell,” and on another occasion called him a “son of a bitch”). What you might not know is that he has taken the idea of a “War on Drugs” to whole new levels of insanity.
Duterte has also united the masses against a common enemy: the drug addict. He’s instituted a take-no-prisoners policy, giving police officers permission to kill suspected dealers and users without due process. He has whipped the nation into a frenzy with hateful speeches, encouraging armed vigilantes to “kill them all.” Since he took office, more than 7,000 people have been killed — that’s about 1,000 murders per month.
Examples abound: Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Marine Le Pen; Erdogan and the ongoing state of emergency (dictatorship?) in Turkey. A similar distrust of foreigners seems to underlie the Brexit vote. Decades of globalist, free market policies have decimated working class people around the globe — and they’re pissed off about it. They’re hurting, confused and afraid, and they want someone to blame.
Whether it’s terrorists or drug addicts, people from another country, culture or religion, doesn’t matter. They are looking for an enemy, someone different, someone “other” — someone they can punish.
What the World Needs Now
But this kind of righteous, blame-and-punish mentality only breeds more of the same. It only creates new victims, who are angry and hurt, and for good reason. And they, in time, will get their revenge. And on and on…
How do we break this cycle?
We have to stop reacting out of hate, and fear, and anger. We have to pause, and take the time to process our feelings. We have to take a look around and realize that everyone else is feeling the same. We’ve all got our grievances. We are all in the same boat. There is no enemy. There is no “them.” There is only us, and we are all in this together.
At the risk of sounding cliche, what the world needs now is compassion. A little love and understanding. Before we point the finger — or the gun — at someone else, we need to stop and ask, “What’s it like to be you? How do you feel? Why do you do the things you do?”
The Cannabis State of Mind
Marijuana induces exactly the sort of relaxed and open state of mind that makes us stop and reflect. It loosens us up, shakes us out of our mental ruts, and fills us with curiosity and wonder. The same qualities of the cannabis high that help us to better appreciate music, comedy, art, etc. can also help us to appreciate other points of view, different cultures and ideas.
I’m not so naive as to think that the solution to all the world’s problems is for everyone to sit down and get high together. (Although it certainly couldn’t hurt.) But we do need to realize that all of the external problems — poverty, inequality, crime, war, racism, and so on — have their roots within us.
It all starts in our minds, our belief systems, our state of consciousness.
As long as we are living in a state of fear, we will continue to seek security, power and control — even at the expense of individual liberty, human rights, and human lives. And we will continue to be manipulated by demagogues, who know how to play upon our fears, and arouse our anger for their own ends.
But we can choose a better way. We can shift our state of mind from one of fear, to one of compassion, love and understanding. We can stop blaming “them,” and start addressing the real issues. And we can, and should, make use of every tool, technique and technology to help us along the way — including cannabis.
So sit back, relax, and smoke ’em if you got ’em. Read, study, meditate, talk to strangers, travel. Do whatever you can to open your mind, and open your heart, and bring a little more compassion into the world.
We need all that we can get.