hate isn't the only thing only love can conquer
second of all, it seems worthwhile to me today to reflect that hate isn't the only thing only love can conquer.
a bit of a discussion (more like a couple of posts and my usual inability to remain silent) is going on over at the right side of lowell on the subject of massachusetts' ballot question 3, and the larger subject of what should, if anything, be done about drug abuse in our society. as is often the case, arguments devolve to center around the subject of illegality (and via consequence incarceration), and our ballot question is no improvement. (it is, after all, aimed squarely at the legality of certain quantities of certain drugs for certain uses). cliff cites some other learned opinions in his posts which, likewise, center around the subject of illegality (and via consequence incarceration).
is this the best we can come up with??? (apologies to churchill and everyone else about the trailing preposition).
folks a bit younger than i may not recall a time as i can so clearly recall when drunk driving was no big deal. (and even i am given to understand that it was even less of a deal in generations before mine). i am not proud to tell you that i have driven while drunk in my lifetime many many years ago, but i will offer by way of an explanation that, though it was technically illegal then as it is now, there really was little stigma attached to it at the time. (it's truly frightening to consider how many people were freely doing it). folks cracked up their cars and killed people just as they do today. but nobody thought much of it.
today, drunk driving is still a problem. it's still illegal, and the penalties are even far stiffer. but the "last mile" against this scourge is not to be won by illegality, as frequent stories in the lowell sun would attest, covering as they do offenders caught for the 6th, 7th, 8th and further times driving while intoxicated. the reason drunk driving has turned 180 degrees in my lifetime, from something so many people did without thinking, to something that far fewer people do, is that we've focused on the reasons why you shouldn't, not on the consequences.
my kids can tell you how alcohol impairs both your judgment and your reaction times, and they will, because they are actively against drunk driving in a way i was never at their age. they naturally get the concept of "designated drivers" and simply staying sober in a way i never did at their age. and they intuitively understand that chasing drunk people after they are drunk is the proverbial lock on the barn door after the horse is running free.
i think about this when people tell me how important it is that all drugs remain illegal. i think to myself how "illegal" doesn't stop drunk drivers, and i think out loud whenever and to whomever i can that the real way to reduce drug use, just as it is that the real way to reduce drunk driving, is to educate people and then treat those who have the biggest trouble with it. imagine how much money would be available for education and treatment programs if we stopped going to "war" against this problem, and started respecting it for what it is, and those who are afflicted by it for who they are--kindly, and with compassion.
people don't want to be drug addicts. let's help them not be. let's not be so stupid and small-minded that arresting them and incarcerating them and pretending that does one damn bit of good does one damn bit of good. let's teach our children well. let's embrace those who have problems. let's help them solve those problems.
let's not throw a higher percentage of our fellow americans into prison for no better reason than we're too lazy and small-minded to figure out how to actually solve this problem, instead of punting it into our prison system which we, by the way, cannot afford.