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Blog Posted in avatar   Leonard Krivitsky's Blog

Evolving in the 'consciousness of freedom'

By Leonard Krivitsky
Posted Dec 19, 2010 in Politics
December 18, 2010 will forever remain in our collective memories as a huge milestone, a momentous victory for Civil Rights in general, and for the Gay people in particular as the US Senate repealed the outdated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a “stand alone” Legislation proposed by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT). For 17 long years our men and women in uniform were forced to hide their identity, to lie about their sexual orientation, to wear a "mask" if they wanted to serve their country, or be dismissed from the military if their true Selves of being "gay" were discovered. And, in fact, almost 14 thousand of men and women have been dismissed from the military during these past 17 years for no other "violation", but simply for being who they are! Only a few days ago the change in this policy looked all but dead in the US Senate, where a strong Republican minority, led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) managed to temporarily defeat the measure by parliamentary maneuvering, even as it was abundantly clear that the majority of the Senate, along with the strong majority of the American People, wanted the repeal of this discriminatory law, widely known as "Don't ask, don't tell" in the Military Service.
As we celebrate this long-overdue victory for Reason and common sense, we should not forget the struggle and sacrifice so many have made for Gay Rights in general, and for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in particular. I remember well how in 1979 Jerry Falwell proclaimed on the steps of the Capitol itself that "Homosexuality is not acceptable", and he did not mean "not acceptable in the military", he meant "not acceptable", period. At that time no one even mentioned the military in this context, as the debate raged as to whether gay people should be fired from most "civilian" jobs if they had been "discovered", especially from teaching jobs because the perennial scare-tactic of "what will happen to our children" was used then, as it is used now, to stifle Progress. "What will happen to our children" - wailed the opponents of even the most rudimentary gay rights just a few decades ago, "if they start getting an idea that "it is OK to be Gay"! Even much more recently the Republican candidate for Governor of New York, Carl Paladino, espoused the same platform, and was soundly rejected by the people of New York who can no longer be swayed by this bigoted nonsense. However, if 35 years ago someone even had suggested that the US Congress, with the firm and unequivocal support from the White House, would actually vote to allow Gay people to openly serve in the military, such a person would have been "laughed out" of the room as someone who was "missing a screw" in a very serious way.
Despite the hysterical fear mongering by the Gay Rights opponents, nothing at all happened to "our children" as they became exposed to the "idea" that it is "OK to be gay". Nothing adverse, to be sure, as our children continue to assimilate the value of diversity in many areas that go beyond racial or ethnic, or gender, or religious beliefs. There was no "increase" in the numbers of gay people as gays became more accepted in society, but this is something that the scientists had said many times before as well, for our sexual orientation is a function of "nature" and not "nurture". Sexual orientation is just not a matter of "choice", and so it should not be a matter of "moral judgment". In ancient Greece, for example, being "gay" or "straight" was considered to be akin to, let's say, one person liking football and another one preferring baseball. Those who like "football" will continue to enjoy it, and they may even wonder as to how is it possible that the next person likes "baseball" more, but no moral judgment will be attributed to one group as opposed to the other. And, of course, the ancient Greeks would have laughed at the idea of excluding gay people from their military, for if they had been doing that, they would have had to exclude even Alexander the Great, among others, and this was definitely not something that the ancient Greeks would have ever chosen to do!
I will venture to say that the current struggle for Cannabis/Medicinal Cannabis Freedom is somewhat reminiscent of the gay struggle for equality. Especially noteworthy are the scare-tactics of Medicinal Cannabis "opponents" who yet again invoke "what will happen to our children?!" concept as they have done many times in the past, only to see that nothing negative happens to "our children" as they progress in the consciousness of tolerance, equality and freedom. Yes, our children will see that Cannabis is used as medicine, but so what? Codeine and morphine are also used as medicine, and they are far more dangerous than Cannabis, and alcohol (which is also far more dangerous than Cannabis) is used as both the "recreational substance" and as "medicine", and its "use" is not automatically equal to "abuse", although it can lead to abuse much more easily than the use of Cannabis.
What is extremely important to "see" is that Cannabis prohibition pushes the people (and young people, as well) to experiment with alcohol and hard drugs as those "clear" from the "system" much more rapidly than Cannabis and are not detected on "random urine drug screens" as easily; little do these people realize how dangerous these other substances, such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or pain or "nerve" pills are, and how high their "addiction potential (including physical dependence potential)" is! Cannabis is NOT physically addictive as its use lacks what is known as "documented physical withdrawal syndrome", and the so-called "gateway drug" theory has been pronounced totally false by the science, although many politicians still act as if the "theory" were valid.
In the recent study by the Feds, teenage smoking and binge drinking were down, while the Cannabis use was slightly up. This is actually a positive development, because even though I am not for any teenage "substance use", I recognize that if the young people were to "experiment", I would much rather for them to experiment with Cannabis than with cocaine, alcohol or opiate "pain pills"!
Sometimes when we look back at our actions in the past, we are aghast at what we had done, and we want to say, "How could we ever...."?? This is true about many areas of our lives, including racial equality, women equality, and now Gay equality. When we look back at these struggles, we are incredulous that we were actually capable of treating these issues differently from how we are approaching them now. The same understanding will dawn on us with regard to Cannabis/Medicinal Cannabis freedom sooner rather than later, and we will be just as shocked at our past ignorance as we are now shocked at how we treated Blacks, and women, and gays... In 35 years from now (or, hopefully, much sooner) people of the future will look back and say, "Oh, my God, do they mean to tell us that they actually incarcerated people for growing a natural plant that helped their cancer symptoms??? How could they ever have done such a terrible thing??" And it will appear upon their "looking back" at our present reality exactly as it appears to most of us currently when we "look back" at sex, gender, race, or sexual orientation discrimination, and it will also appear to their consciousness of the future as equally incomprehensible, ridiculous and deplorable.
As Georg Hegel taught in his philosophy, our evolution is the evolution towards our "consciousness of freedom", and I believe that in this teaching Hegel was right! We are progressing in our "consciousness of freedom", and our very next milestone will be the universal acceptance of Medicinal Cannabis, which is even less a "partisan" issue (as the brave citizens of Arizona just showed us in their rather Conservative State), than the issue of "sexual orientation" as we all, and our loved ones, can get sick and be helped by the remarkable medicinal properties of the Cannabis Plant!

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