Drugs are bad, mmkkay?
With so many law enforcers in town, it’s an opportunity for The Echo to send a clear message to them, the community and any schoolies who may read these hallowed pages.
We agree with the late comedian Bill Hicks: ‘Not all drugs are bad; in fact some of them are great.’
My first acid trip with my father when I was 19: boy, was that an eye opener. Thankfully that experience was a guided one; many are not. And that’s the point with drug taking.
Apple founder Steve Jobs is said to have told Microsoft’s Bill Gates that he should try acid. The result? Jobs produced the iPod while Gates produced the forgettable Zune music player.
It is also very apparent who, in public life, has dabbled in psychedelics and who hasn’t. Tony Abbott? Not a chance. Paul Keating?Perhaps. The Beatles explored ‘soul-manifesting’ through acid as did Aldous Huxley. His book Brave New World was required reading at Mullum High when I went there. What is the message our education department is sending here?
If we were honest, half of us use legal prescription drugs and the other dabble in the illegal kind. Sure, there are people who don’t do either; however, the point is that there is no right or wrong, just education and knowledge of what you are doing to your mind.
In Peru’s Amazon jungle, an ayawaska ceremony is a rite of passage that takes preparation. It first starts with the ritual of boiling the plant for most of the day, then it is guided by an experienced shaman. Same with the San Pedro cactus plant, also a native of Peru. It’s called a plant medicine over there; however, here it’s an illegal drug. And as Hicks also said, ‘Making plants illegal is like saying God made a mistake.’
Laws against drugs are enforced so that those without education don’t end up in psych wards. Some people should also not do them, as it can potentially ruin their lives and those around them. And the alcohol and cigarette lobby work hard at keeping our minds from expanding while their profits continue. It’s that simple.
Lacking common sense
While scratching my head at all the absurd evils of the world, it occurred that we lack a charter of common sense.
The ideological dichotomy that western societies presents, ie the left and right, breeds a system where oppositions negatively campaign against common sense. Co-operation over basic ethical principles is rarely discussed, hence layers of choking bureaucracy are added.
But what about common sense? As it happens an Englishman proposed this during the American revolution. Common Sense, a 48-page pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1776, challenged the authority of the British government and the monarchy. Essentially it was a reasoned argument for the US to be independent from British rule.
It was an immensely popular document in its time, and not only examined how societies function and the need for self-governance, but refuted tyranny. Paine claims there are two tyrannies in the English constitution: monarchical and aristocratic, and they do not benefit a society. ‘[The] king and peers… rule by heredity and contribute nothing to the people,’ he writes. Common Sense was a hit because its language was clear and easy to understand. Its broad appeal persuaded many undecided settlers to want independence and it is widely regarded as one of the catalysts for the American War of Independence.
The best common sense document that democratic societies can produce is of course a constitution, which specifically sets out laws on governance. The difference between our constitution and the US is that ours doesn’t include a Bill of Rights, which is separate from governance. The US Bill of Rights, or amendments, are aimed to protect freedoms of religion, speech, a free press, free assembly, free association and the right to keep and bear arms.
Arguably America was founded by educated atheist intellectuals whereas we were a dumped colony of uneducated convicts. How else can we possibly excuse our appalling treatment of Aboriginals and those who seek refuge from wars we are involved with? A Bill of Rights would address these issues and more – it would also negate never-ending inquiries into our human rights abuses and would have addressed the current media inquiry.
An interesting history and analysis of our constitution and (lack of) a Bill of Rights is at www.nswbar.asn.au/docs/resources/lectures/bill_rights.pdf.
Transfer Bank Day
Real change looks to be happening in the US, and it’s without Obama or his multimillion-dollar PR campaign.
US media reports that $4.5 billion shifted to credit unions in recent times as people protest against high fees and unethical bank practices.
Bank of America effectively created the Bank Transfer Day movement – which happened on November 5 – by announcing plans to collect $60 a year from each of its millions of debit-card users.
Despite Bank of America immediately reversing its decision, opposition to banks gained huge momentum via Facebook, with hundreds of thousands of Americans transferring their money to credit unions.
And while this bears no direct resemblance to the financial issues our country faces, this week’s mini-protest featuring Ned Kelly in Byron Bay attempted to make the point that our banking sector invests in ‘toxic shit’.
According to www.banktrack.org, Australia’s top four banks don’t fare particularly well when it comes to corporate governance and responsibility. The website lists all of the active environmental/humanitarian policies of every worldwide bank, and links them to unsustainable projects. In one case, ANZ were approached by the company HRL for brown-coal-fired power station investment in Victoria; they subsequently withdrew their interest.
Fortunately the Northern Rivers has its own local credit unions to invest in if you don’t wish to favour the big banks.
Banking that produces a profit for local investors is easier to keep tabs on and keeps the money circulating in the local community and economy.