Decriminzalize

Decriminalize: (v) to eliminate criminal penalties for or remove legal restrictions against

What is a crime?

What constitutes an action that is so flagrantly opposed to human growth and appreciation that it requires punishment?

Why do we need crimes?

Why do we call some of these crimes misdemeanors because we’ve decided they’re not as serious as others?

And therefore, what would constitute the purpose for decriminalizing an activity?

The example under discussion today, of course, is marijuana.

The thesis is that since marijuana is not any more addictive or dangerous than alcohol, why do we allow alcohol and arrest people for using marijuana?

This issue has brought about a growing intensity for the legalization of pot. Matter of fact, many states already have it in place.

And far be it from me to compare alcohol and marijuana to each other to establish a favorable conclusion for booze.

But it does come back to what constitutes a crime. A crime is any situation which places other human beings in jeopardy.

Does marijuana do that?

If marijuana were decriminalized, how would that work?

Like cigarettes, it couldn’t be smoked in public.

So the whole purpose of legalizing marijuana would be to make sure that nobody had to go to jail just because they used it.

Is it possible to decriminalize it without legalizing it?

Is it plausible to do the same thing with alcohol?

We have accomplished this with cigarettes—they are decriminalized, but not exactly legal—since they are looked down on and pushed out of our society.

I don’t think anybody should have to spend time in jail for smoking marijuana.

But if you don’t mind, please keep them from using heavy machinery and driving cars on our crowded highways.

Cranberry

Cranberry: (n) a red, acid fruit or berry of certain plants used in making sauce, jelly or juice

 I have gotten in more trouble in my life by pretending to be cool or passing myself off as something I am not than I ever did by just being bumbling or incompetent.

That’s the truth.

I don’t know whether I’ve ever actually allowed that realization to sink into my soul and find a home there and build a warm fire of awareness. I may still be susceptible to wanting to blow my trumpet, even though I actually have no horn.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

But this was certainly true when I was in my twenties and I was trying to get well-known in the music industry. I immediately found that I was surrounded by drugs—mainly cocaine and marijuana—but for those who were not willing to pursue a narcotic, alcohol was the name of the game.

I hated alcohol. I still do.

I don’t hate it because I think people who drink it are evil. It just smells like a hospital to me. And the idea of drinking something that isn’t pleasant to swallow to gain an effect after it’s consumed just totally escaped my reasoning.

So whenever I went out to a party, in order to appear hip, I would always order a cranberry juice and tonic. It wasn’t an unusual request, but it was a signal.

Usually my order of the cranberry and tonic would cause those at the party to look at me with sympathetic eyes and assume that I was a recovering alcoholic.

Now, here’s the damnable part of it.

There were nights that I was so immature, so foolish, so tentative, that I would allow them to believe that I was two hundred and thirty days sober.

I liked it. It gave me power. It made them believe I had a problem, but also had lived a life they didn’t understand, and in some ways, I sat there as a cautionary tale.

It all came to a head one night when a friend of mine who was fairly well known in the music business turned to another gentleman nearby and said, “This is Jonathan.”

Then he leaned in and whispered to his friend, “He’s a recovering alcoholic, too.”

Now I was down for the count.

Not only was it assumed that I was “working the twelve steps,” but everyone at the table was waiting for my back story.

And God forgive me…

I sat there, on the fly, and made up one that would have torn at the heart of any grizzled sinner.


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Boarding School

Boarding school: (n) a school where students reside during the semester.

Dictionary B

I ended up being the father to six sons.

Three boys I had in cooperation with my wife, and three others we took into our family–kind of like godparents.

I am going to write about one of these sons, with full confidence that since I am his old man, that he more than likely will never read this–so he won’t need to feel embarrassed and I can make my point.

Yes, one of my sons was caught smoking marijuana.

He got himself into some trouble, went to court, and it fell our lot to try to separate him from buddies who were quite satisfied to see their collective lives “go up in smoke.”

So we investigated boarding schools.

I will tell you–it is well worth focusing on being a great parent and maybe even locking your children up in the house until they’re eighteen–just so you don’t have to talk to these institutions which have found a way to make money off of the suffering and anguish of people who are suddenly confronted with “wayward seed.”

We even went to visit one of these places.

We toured the campus.

Then we allowed our son to go to their school for a day to acquaint himself with their procedures and prepare to become a unit in their well-proven curriculum.

After he came back from the experience, terrified that he was going to be placed into such a social straitjacket, we had a “coming to Jesus” moment with him and decided not to send him away, but instead, find the patience and prudence to have him repent in his own bedroom,

The comical part of the whole experience was that two weeks later we received a letter from the boarding school telling us that after having met our son and reviewing his situation, they had decided to reject his application.

Weren’t they supposed to exist to help confused kids?

I laughed heartily and aloud.

Like so many organizations in America, they are more than happy to take your money and advertise themselves freely–as long as you don’t expect them to actually deliver what they promise.

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Beeswax

Beeswax: (n) a person’s concern or business.Dictionary B

“None of your beeswax.”

I’m not so sure anyone under the age of 50 would know what that phrase means. I haven’t heard it for years. It sounds like a throw-away line from the musical, Grease.

But of course, if you are unfamiliar with the phrase, its origin lies in the sarcastic response one gives another person when they’ve stepped over the line and started interfering in one’s life.

In other words, “none of your business.”

You know what the interesting thing is about that idea? More often than not, it may very well be my business. The fact that someone gives me an adolescent, bratty response doesn’t change the fact that they may be making decisions that affect my life without consulting me.

But by the same token, “none of your beeswax” would be a very appropriate response to many things being discussed today as if we actually have some say-so in the conclusion.

1. How somebody worships God.

None of your beeswax.

2. Someone’s sexual orientation.

Not your beeswax.

3. The personal freedoms we are meant to enjoy in this country despite our differences.

Removed from your beeswax.

America may have become more intelligent or technologically savvy, but with the introduction of Facebook and social media, it has also become more intrusive, opinionated and mean.

Some things are none of my beeswax.

I suppose the genesis of the term is that whatever a bee needs to do to make honey is none of my damn business.

Exactly.

I think I’ll just stand on the other end of your life and enjoy your honey. How you get it there is up to you. But understand–we are human.

It better be sweet.

 

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Beer

Beer: (n) an alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermented malt and flavored with hops.Dictionary B

I like good taste.

This does not mean I have good taste. Let me make that distinction before it is thrust upon me.

I am one of those odd people who has never smoked marijuana, taken recreational drugs or chugged beer.

It isn’t a moral issue to me.

It isn’t any kind of sense that I am superior by abstaining.

It’s just that I’m a “watcher.”

Yes, if I had been a cave man, I would have stood back and observed what happened when my buddies ate the berries from a nearby bush, to see if they keeled over and died. I might have had a growling belly while I watched them devour the treats, but then would have been very grateful later as I saw them convulsing on the ground–delighted I delayed.

I never liked what beer does to people, and I certainly found it to be personally distasteful.

Marijuana always seemed to take people to a different place, when I was completely satisfied with the place I had located, renovated and furnished inside me.

People who drank beer also smelled of beer, or threw up a lot. (And by the way, as bad as the brew may be going in, it is even worse coming out.)

I’m always reluctant to discuss this matter because it seems I’m taking a self-righteous profile against Milwaukee’s finest. But honestly, I’ve been to Milwaukee, and the frothing stuff in the brown bottles is not their finest.

So I have come to the same conclusion on the subject with beer that I have with many things I’ve encountered in my life:

  • I’m glad you enjoy it.
  • I’m not preaching against it.
  • But I would rather not participate.

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Barbiturate

Barbiturate: (n) a class of drugs used as sedatives and hypnoticsDictionary B

The classic two are religion and politics. Those are the subjects to avoid at the dinner table.

Let me add a third: drugs.

It certainly is difficult to make a firm stand on the issue of drugs, which to some people are viewed as medication, others as recreational and to many ailing, salvation. Almost any statement you make about drugs will offend someone, somewhere.

So it is with tippy-toes and fairy feet that I step into this discussion, understanding that everything I’m about to say could be erroneous and disagreeable.

I believe in God, therefore I contend that He made Earth. Since He made our Earth and He is a wise and just Creator, He placed within the confines of this magical puzzle clues on how to make our lives work and become better. That includes roots, berries, twigs, branches and any variety of natural substances which can be curried, melted and configured to treat humanity.

And since this same God gave human beings free will, what was meant for good can certainly be perverted for evil.

So what is our responsibility?

If marijuana helps young children who are suffering with terminal diseases to endure their treatments, then we must understand that it is not innately evil, but rather, in need of the wisdom of purpose.

Matter of fact, when I look in the mirror, I see a natural substance called “me,” which is equally in need of the wisdom of purpose. After all, I can abuse myself or I can use the elements of my chemistry to create an abundant life.

So the same heroin that is sold on the street which addicts, is given to those in pain so they have a chance to recuperate instead of dying in agony.

The same caffeine that we enjoy in coffee, that peps us up, when taken in extremes, can create heart palpitations and high blood pressure.

Why did God believe that He could give us such a mixed bag of possibilities, and that we would somehow eventually find the better choices?

It is the same reason that He placed, in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil right next to the Tree of Life:

He loves us, believes in us … and trusts us to take our barbiturates and use them for needed sleep, instead of overdosing and destroying ourselves.

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Anthony, Susan B.

dictionary with letter A

Anthony, Susan B. : U.S. social reformer and leader of the woman suffragette movement.

It puts a chill down my spine.

Often I just think about who I would be, what I would do and where I would place myself in the thinking of a particular era, when some miscarriage of justice was all the rage.

Would I have had the courage to sign the Declaration of Independence, or would I be a loyal Tory to King George?

Would I have treated the Native Americans with respect, honoring their lands, or just rolled over the prairie in my Conestoga wagon, assuming that God was my co-pilot?

What would have been my stance on slavery?

And certainly, as I read the name Susan B. Anthony, I am curious if I would have seen the wisdom, practicality and right for women to be participating citizens with the vote, or if my fear of rocking the boat would have caused me to surrender to the social doldrums.

I think about it a lot, because other things come up every day which are the fresh, new subject lines for the story of history–whether it’s abortion, nation building, gay rights, legalized marijuana, immigration or any number of conflicts which “boil, boil, toil and trouble” in our society.

  • Where are the parallels?
  • Where are the similarities?
  • Where are the differences?

Because even though some causes appear to have a righteous basis, like Prohibition, when they’re placed within the context of a democratic society, they end up being miserable failures.

Would I have marched with Ms. Anthony to lobby for women to have their natural authority to cast a ballot?

I like to think about this.

I don’t ever want to become comfortable in my beliefs and convictions simply because they have paid rent inside of me for a long time. I am prepared to evict all tenets which fail to prove their solvency.

Would I fight for women? The only way to be sure of that is to place myself on the battlefield today, as my sisters continue to struggle to gain equal footing in a society which is much too dominated by macho ruffians. 

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Amsterdam

dictionary with letter A

Amsterdam: (n): the capital and largest city of the Netherlands.

There are two things that tickle me about myself:

  • My sporadic moments of inspirational genius
  • And the remainder of my life, where I nearly drown in a pool of my own stupidity

So when I looked at the dictionary and saw that my word for the day was “Amsterdam”, I reached into the recesses of my experience to find what I knew about this city in Holland.

First of all, I am not certain whether you should refer to it as the Netherlands or Holland. If I were a native, I would certainly prefer Holland, instead of being called “the land of nothing.”

I guess what tickled me the most was that I have this strange collage of data-bits in my brain, ranging from Hans Christian Anderson, a little boy with his finger in the dyke, wooden shoes, tulips, rampant marijuana smoking and legal prostitution.

Trying to figure out how I would unite all of these ideas into a common theme for my essay this morning just produced a giggle-fest somewhere down deep in my soul.

I suppose I could be cute and say that Hans Christian Anderson was on his way to take a tulip to his favorite prostitute, sporting freshly-carved wooden shoes, when he came upon the boy who was in charge of protecting the dyke, who instead had become quite stoned, toking his bong, causing water to begin to flood into the community, so Hans, with great regret in his heart, stuck his tulip into the hole, realizing that he had lost his rendezvous with a lover, but saved a people.

Honestly, ladies and gentlemen … that’s the best I can do.

 

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Age of Consent

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Age of consent: (n) the age at which a person’s, particularly a girl’s, consent to sexual intercourse is valid by law.

I am thoroughly convinced that a conservative philosophy would work beautifully if those who pursued it were actually faithful.

Likewise, I have no doubt that a liberal agenda would be equally as positive if the people adhering to its tenets would not swerve from their conviction.

The problem is inconsistency–and nowhere does this show up in our society any more than in our dealings with our children–and especially with our teenagers. Let me give you an example.

Teenagers are supposed to have the wisdom to study for school, take care of their lockers, drive a car, decide what college they want to go to, study for the SAT, make good choices on not drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, and control their hormones.

Yet by the same token, we turn right around and say they are irresponsible, childish, silly, that their brains don’t fully develop until they’re twenty-five years of age, and that they are just as capable of lying as they are of breaking out in acne.

We have to make up our minds.

If our children are able to drive a car down the street, are they not also mature enough to make decisions about their own sexuality?

We don’t want our children to be drug dependent, while simultaneously living in a society that has a free flow of alcohol and is discussing legalizing marijuana–to further deaden their personalities.

They can’t drink until they’re twenty-one, yet in every movie or television show, we see high school students freely consuming alcohol products, as if they just stopped off at the local party store and picked up a bunch.

Somewhere along the line, we need to get a handle on what we really believe the young humans are capable of achieving and what we think they aren’t.

I firmly believe that the teenagers who came through my house were capable of doing anything at all–as long as they were adequately motivated and supervised. I believe they were nearly worthless if left to their own initiative.

I don’t know whether that is a positive or a negative–it’s just my finding. To me, young humans are very similar to guns. In the hands of the right individual, who is responsible and willing to point the implement in the correct direction, there can possibly be a powerful use. But guns left lying around will always fall into the wrong hands.

Such is the case with the teenager.

So it is time for our society to realize that when puberty is striking people at the age of twelve or thirteen, to ask these individuals to withhold their urges for ten years in order to complete a college education is not only ridiculous, but may be the definition of impossible.

So what am I saying about the age of consent? I know we have to have a legal number so as to run our society in a prudent way–but I do think it is the duty of all parents to sit down with their children and candidly walk through the entire process of human sexuality–and let them know the consequences of all actions.

So what is the age of consent?

I really do not think human beings are able to consent to their own choice in sexuality until they have been taught what is destructive and what is valuable. For some folks, that means they probably shouldn’t kiss until they’re thirty. But for other kids, it could be much younger.

Our culture is desperately in need of some consistency. I welcome the concept of freedom … as long as it is intentionally and ferociously linked to responsibility.

Affront

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Affront: (n) an action or remark that causes outrage or offense

Sixty years.

If you think about it, it’s not really that long. But in sixty years of life, I have been offered many ideas, which, as time has passed, have gone from being the common sense of my day to being opinions that AFFRONT.

Let me give you some examples:

When I was eight years old, I was told that black people were inferior. They weren’t “bad,” just more or less one step up from monkeys, but a step down from my Midwest, white friends and family. Yet you can see, if I held any part of that conviction today, I would affront many–or maybe even most–people.

When I was fourteen years old I was told that rock and roll was “of the devil.” Matter of fact, I read a book about how the beat came from Africa and had the potential to turn us into animals instead of enlightened creatures of Eden. Alas, if I promoted this idea today, there would be great possibility of affrontation.

May I proceed?

All through my teenage years, I was told by my church and even my school that a woman’s place was “in the home.” Interestingly, most of the girls in my senior class were encouraged to take Home Economics, and any boy who might decide to join the class would be ridiculed right out of the school. Move ahead. Stating such a premise in public nowadays would put you in danger of being shunned, if not stoned.

I go on.

When my wife became pregnant with our first child and we were not ready, we considered abortion. But because our upbringing and the world around us told us it was murder, we passed. Now, if you were to state that abortion is murder in a public arena, you would be labeled an ultra-conservative right-wing nut.

Can I give you another one?

“Marijuana is a dangerous drug.” I grew up with that conviction. But just the other day I discovered that fifty-eight percent of the country now contend that it should be legalized. How “backwoods-bumpkin” would you look to disagree?

And finally, throughout my childhood and even my young adult years, it was common knowledge that homosexuality was abnormal. Move ahead a couple of decades. Such an assertion would be met with violent opposition and you certainly should be prepared to be ostracized.

It reminds me of the question that a governor once asked a convicted felon right before his execution. His name was Pilate and he said, “What is truth?”

Is truth what is best for human beings, or what is easiest to sell to the masses? It may take a generation that decides to discuss and learn what is functional instead of getting up in arms over their cause to finally arrive at what works for the human family.

Who knows? Maybe sixty years from now.