Many would not believe a conservative Catholic woman would tell her children to use condoms to avoid pregnancy because that was better than being tied to the wrong person for life. Nevertheless, my mother raised her family just as our nation was on the verge of going to pot, and such perilous times demanded answers that did not necessarily match her beliefs and hopes for the future. In fact, as the years wore on, “do what you want - but not in my house” - became the mantra. It was at once liberating and frightening to be given this level of personal control, yet told that the center of love and safety in this life would be off limits under certain circumstances.
And so it came to be, I grew up in a Catholic home relatively free of drama as my older siblings used birth control, smoked whatever, enjoyed the blessings (truly!) of inter-racial marriage, and ultimately took their place in a world of moral cutting-edge pioneers. But even as I saw all this going on, there was alway the TV where families were in agony over junior smoking cigarettes. Oh the drama! I could not fathom, given how the same situation went in mom’s house. You see, when one of my siblings discovered the joys of tobacco, my father didn’t yell, pitch a fit, or demand family counseling, SWAT intervention and so on. He concluded that my sibling was old enough to make sound health decisions, and simply kept giving said sibling one cigarette after another until that person puked. Needless to say, said sibling didn’t smoke again after that.
Of course, mom was ever the genius and employed the exact same tactic one Christmas on my father who enjoyed an occasional cigar. I will never forget that box of 40 cigars that she bought him, and then ever so cheerfully inviting him to smoke one after another. Now he didn’t go so far as to get sick, but after the third or fourth, looked at her the with the kind of understanding expression only a combat veteran can get, and threw the next cigar in the stove. The rest of the box soon followed, and never again was there the curl of tobacco smoke in mom’s house.
As the years went by and "Sesame Street" got exchanged for other things, I was equally amazed by all the woo-woo around alcohol. It was usually well within my reach when I was growing up, however mom’s admonition “don’t touch that” was enough to keep me away from it. And besides, when dad had a glass of wine, I always got a few sips from the bottom of the glass anyways. Beer, wine, whiskey, it just wasn’t a big deal until I got to high school and found out it could fry my liver up right good. So then I just didn’t drink it anymore. Simple, no?
Apparently not for others - which I admit is part and parcel of the state of the world gone to pot. Yet I must say - when it comes to drunken debauchery, drunken driving and so on, I say flatly, “not in my house and not in my car!” And, while I don’t drink alcohol, and am not a fan of it, I’m not about to waste my time telling others what to do. Their life, their drink, their problem.
A few days ago, the whole election thing was put out of its misery, and no doubt, people in South Carolina and Kentucky have just about finished drowning their sorrows. However, now I want to shift attention away from alcohol and tobacco, and talk about another highly stigmatized drug - marijuana. I cannot begin to express the welter of emotions that went through me as I read that Colorado and Washington decided to legalize it. Here again was another “not in my house” scenario playing before my eyes.
You see, my mother was a high school dropout at age 16, and then went to work until she married my father and started on the more than full-time job of raising a family. At age 50, with all her own children grown and off to college and beyond, she took a mind to get her GED, and ultimately, went on to be posthumously awarded her master’s degree in 1999.
What does this have to do with legalizing drugs? Well - as with so many other things, “Do what you want, but not in my house” ultimately translated into forming her thesis around the idea that it was best to decriminalize drug use. Not legalize - but decriminalize - to stop the racketeer and all the wasteful cost of jails, the courts, and lives of law enforcement officers. To her, it made perfect sense to spend all that tax money, instead, on people that openly used drugs and went to rehab centers much the same way people join AA and other forms of counseling for alcoholism. In fact, she figured people would seek help sooner by virtue of the fact they wouldn’t have to worry about jail time and the legal system while trying to get clean. And, as conservative as she was, the idea of taxing drugs was seen as the perfect way to lift that odious burden from everyone else.
When it comes to the legalization of drugs, people spout on ad nauseum about the harm caused just by using these substances. I sincerely wish these same people would stop texting and yapping on the cell phone when driving, because that impairs reflexes just as badly as alcohol and other drugs. If you stop and think about it, bad things in life happen, and in many cases, we tend to vilify the gun or the drug even as we judge the person.
To my thinking, even if these things may be avoidable some of the time, they are not avoidable all the time. Making drugs illegal only creates an undue burden on all of us that does not do anything to compensate the victims. In fact, if a driver using drugs or alcohol causes a crash, his/her insurance carrier will deny the claim, leaving it to the victim to try and sue someone that will never be able to pay for the damages. Mmmm... ya... so now you see why some people support tough drug laws...
Now, of course I know many disagree with this position, but the facts remain quite simple. If you don’t want something in your own home, you don’t have to accept or put up with it. That’s your territory. If others want to live like pigs or do whatever in their home - that is their business. On those grounds, I agree wholeheartedly with my mother. Alcohol and tobacco are legal - yet I don’t use either one. Abortion is legal, but for the most part, I don’t plan on having one of those anytime soon. By the same token, just because currently illegal drugs suddenly become legal, it doesn’t mean I am going to run out and start using them. You see, it’s just not done in my house, even in this world gone to pot!
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