Sunday, September 7, 2008

OK... a line has been crossed...

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The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.

~ Justice William O. Douglas
~~~

I'm not a flag-waver. I don't put made in China "I support the troops" stickers on my car. But I am a veteran, a volunteer during Vietnam. Both my older brothers were volunteers as well. My dad (RIP) was a vet of WWII, fought in the Battle of the Bulge...

... and while I can't speak for any of them, I believe in the principles of liberty, freedom and equality. Each person's business is their own and unless they have breached etiquette and intruded upon another by their actions what they do is their business. And their's alone.

I've been putting this post off for quite awhile but recent events tilted my qwerty at a dangerous angle and now I am compelled to do some ranting.

(big breath... let my prana catch up to my karma... You know the song, "Goin' up the country" by Canned Heat? Next time you hear it, pay attention to the lead voice and put the image of Kermit the Frog to it)

... sigh... ok, I'm calm, for a little bit at least...

Back on the subject of my firing... Was I fired for... poor performance? No, all my performance ratings are excellent. I'm on time, helpful to my co-workers and make them laugh, appreciated by my customers... I didn't moon anybody or swear out loud in front of a pack of toddlers. None of those frequent and common atrocities in retail land.

No, I was fired for doing something on my day off that millions of people do every day in probably every country on the planet (and maybe... out there as well...).

(see, now here is where, as a writer, I havta figure out if I provide some background info or just dive into it...)

And I know some of you may be shocked, and never drop by for a donut again... but... well... I smoked a bit of pot. On my day off.



And then I went and peed in a bottle for all the good little folks deriving their income from an entire industry dedicated to violating the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.

For those who don't remember:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Did I know my company had random tests? Yep. I could have passed any day along the way. Except for that week...

hmmm... what if it wasn't just the roll of the dice? What if they do really see everything we do? hear everything we say? (I'm sooo glad you can't see me with my tinfoil hat)



What? I'm 56 (soon to be 57) years old and most certainly don't need to be monitored on my day off. The funny (well... not really funny) part? If I had gone out on Friday nite and snorted up a few lines of whichever white powder was available (and white powder is always available somewhere), smoked some opium or tripped on LSD I would have peed clean. But not with pot/cannabis/mah-reee-wanna/reefer/tea/ganja/bud... it is the only one of those very few "illicit" substances that actually clings to your fat cells cells instead of being water soluble. Water soluble meaning you flush it through your system rapidly...

Now, as much as I've tried to avoid the topic, because it really is Nobody's Business what I do on my time, I've got to lay down a few lines of type here.

And its not like I was working in some high stakes national security position. I was working as a retail clerk... and a good one I was(/am) too. Aah well... this IS Oregon and even among that large voting majority of us Oregonians with common sense and a very middle class populism there are those who will swallow whatever lies the government feeds them and say "ummm, that was good. More please."

See, there is this document... I think I've mentioned it before (oh yeah, just above!) ... anyway... this document is kinda like David Letterman's Top 10 lists. But it pre-dates Letterman. Well, #4 on this list is pretty cool. But it is in not such good shape these days as the government has... altered... it just a bit. You know, deleting a few items here, changing a few words over there... even though that document is forever in the care and control of this nation's citizens. This "Top 10 list" belongs to the people. A set of rules... guidelines and principles handed to us by our nation's founders as a tool to keep the government in check. Not an instrument for the government to modify as it sees fit in order to control the populace. In fact it is so cool I think I'm going to repeat it (for those of you on drugs):

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Now, as many times as I've read this during my growing-ever-longer lifetime (I know I had to memorize it as a kid in school) I've never seen an "except when" in there. Do you see that anywhere in there? Now... I may be getting older (a "classic" now) and even tho' I can't see out of one eye (and I'm blind in the other) I sure as heck can't find that "except."

Like I said, I'm only going to do this once, so take notes if you have to. (Oh, and just to further impale the point I'm making, I have a whole bunch of ex-criminal justice professionals -- cops, judges,prosecutors, etc -- who agree with me.)

There are a whole lot of reasons not to like drugs (reason #1... Tweakers!). But as anybody knows that has experimented with any of the mood altering substances in the human pharmacopeia (and lord knows there are thousands of ways, many fatal, to alter consciousness) , there are reasons to like drugs. Now me personally... I've tried a few over my half century plus.. Some I liked some I didn't. Ganja is one I do like. As a creative person it works for me. It also has health benefits. With arthritis holding a prominent place in the genes on my mother's side of the family I know the good herb has helped stem a disease (arthritis) that crippled my uncle and gnarled my mother's hands. But since I haven't been consuming any pot for almost the last 12 months, my hands were starting to feel the effects again. I've already got one finger that has twisted at a weird angle with a pretty gnarly knuckle and another finger joint has been swelling and starting to do weird things over the last few months. Plenty of mornings I had to flex my hands and take an ibuprofen or two in the morning to make it through my work day.

But ibuprofen has damaging side effects if taken for too long a period of time. I'm not a big fan of pharmaceuticals (the drugs or the corporations), preferring instead to use herbs, massage, hot springs, a healthy diet and exercise. Of course I've used pharmas when they've been prescribed but I can count the number of times I've gone to the doctor in the last 30 years on one hand. And part of that comes from my dislike for western medicine in general. Throw western medicine in with western style "civilization" and you've got a dangerous brew.

Too many times in my life I've felt like I was born a few hundred years too late. To have seen this country before it was fenced and cross-fenced, strapped down by highways and byways and its forest stripped, its waters dammed, dyked and polluted...

...sigh...

Anyway... going back in the human past for far longer than we have been *cough* civilized we have been either hunting and gathering or farming, often a combination of both. And across the continents of our globe we developed differently in our diverse communities. But being human... many many truths were shared. We as a specie share common traits, biological more than cultural and social, genetically bound.

The Hopi speak of several past worlds that all ended because our behavior was not... mmm... conducive to societal success. But with the passing of each world went that contingent of humanity that survived and followed the path that led them on to the next world. And so we did it all over again. Again, a few became many. And then, again, too many.

But in spite of all this passing of humanity... shaping us, making us into who we have come to be today was the environment in which we lived. I try and share the pieces I find of that once unfenced global whole with my landscape photography. This beautiful, beautiful planet I love taking photographs of has always sustained us. Whatever our wealth, whatever our sustenance, it has always come from the earth. And there is but one... at least right now, for us.

And amidst this wealth of resource we call earth we have always had the resources to heal our hurts. For thousands and thousands of years many of the planet's plants and muds and frog juices and moth wings and fluids and substances of vast descriptions, were known for the have medicinal components they hold. And once, way back, these were the sum of our medicinal options. So we carefully remembered them, passed the knowledge on, developed preparations, learned the best and most useful parts and in which season to gather them. Caring for wounds and aches and pains came from caring for one another. Still today, in our modern technological world, we discover new medicines in remote ancient rain forests and isolated desert glades. In the fish and other ocean life forms living deep in our seas we find much more and continually are reminded how much we don't know. And seemingly what we have forgotten is the caring. Yes, many, many of us do care. I know, I know... but there is a rift, an open wound that won't heal and it continues to fester... and our propensity to do harm flares up and disturbs the balance of what should be lives full of good living. But there is no curing salve for that affliction, save our own efforts...

Among these medicines so miraculously co-existent here, with us, is a plant that has a very ancient relationship with humanity. So old is the relationship that we carry receptors for its various components within our bodies on a cellular level. This plant has fed us, it has clothed us, it has been the paper upon which great documents have ben written and it has held our ships together in the navy that first defended our shores... we have used it as a medicine as far back as any civilization's recorded history and far far beyond that. Among the most ancient medicinal traditions still being utilized today, this plant holds a place. Even here in the modern U.S, it was a part of the our pharmacopeia until the middle of the 20th century and is once again.

Now, I hope you don't mind my version of a history lesson. I mean this is it. We live it. And those years behind us are our histories. And those human histories have passed and passed and passed... and always amidst those lives and generations we have lived, aware. Human consciousness is no young thing. We have been proud, upright beasts for awhile now. Among all these passings truth has grabbed hold now and again. Things like gravity and the laws of attraction. Aah, the laws of attraction... without it we would not be here today.

I'm getting distracted... women have that effect on me. Nice days do that too...

In my roundabout manner I'm saying that our oldest traditions are nature based. Our knowledge all comes from observation of nature. Physics is our way of describing those laws, discovered through our observation. And whether its anti-gravity or UFOs or leaves changing color in the autumn... everything has its place in this ordered chaos of life. Even tho' it is kind of weird that techically speaking we really aren't cohesive material beings because matter doesn't really exist except as whirling bits of neutrons and electrons with just monumental gaps of... cosmic foam... what Malcolm calls custard... in between these electrically whirling dervishes.

Pardon another bit of digression. When I lived out in Oregon's southern desert in the Warner Lakes basin, radio reception really sucked. As in there wasn't any. Well, actually, there was... during the day we got one AM station from Klamath Falls. Country music. And 3 times a day, Paul Harvey (Hello America!). But at night? At nearly a mile high? The AM dial came alive and I discovered Art Bell. Yeah, Art Bell talked about a lot of things. Some of his guests were phonies or blowhards but many were really interesting. Some even educational. Like physicist Michio Kaku. And of course lots of UFO, crop circle, bigfoot type stories and discussions. And I must say I have some good stories from 2 out of 3 of those... but it was Michio Kaku that grabbed my attention. I've never been a higher math kind of guy. Arithmetic I have down. Too many years of selling things and doing the figuring in my head. Carpentry showed me what geometry is about. I have the Pythagorean thing down. Something about triangles and hypotenuses and two squares equals the sea squared. Its mighty handy to know.

So, as our natural selves evolved (questionable, but that is another day's blog) we utilized all that was around us. And lo and behold there, right around us all this time, is a plant that some have labeled as a camp follower. And that plant has served us well. The plant? Well, if you haven't figured it out, its cannabis. Hemp. Ganja, pot, marijuana...

So in today's world, I'm told "son, because it is so old humanity doesn't even know how old our association with cannabis is and even tho' no one has ever died from it (and never will), well... just-you-never-mind that it is proving to be an effective cancer fighter and useful in treating many conditions and ailments -- including but not limited to Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, Alzheimer's, alleviating problems assocated with chemo-therapy, reduces stress and much more -- just ignore all that. The fact is it is illegal and you broke the letter (if not the spirit) of the law."

Well... hello? I have no qualms with that. Lets just ignore all the data and science, all the patient testimony (anecdotal.... pffft... what do the patients know about how medicine works?) that corroborates our historical association. But if we want to stand by the law...

... surely there is a reason pot was outlawed in the first place?

Well... no. The banning of pot is a fraud and it has been perpetrated upon us for over 70 years. A lie that has fueled one of the most wasteful and oppressive bureaucracies ever.

Next:

The Big Lie

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“Why don't they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth.”

- Will Rogers

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