Tag Archives: war on drugs

US Obligation to Mexican Immigrants

Forty-thousand lives will be lost this year to the terrorism in Mexico caused by US drug policy.

Since the US has shown little or no interest in stopping the terrorism it’s causing, can we at least have the decency to welcome and shelter Mexican citizens crossing our Southern border?

The United States Government has a moral obligation to facilitate easy immigration by all Mexican people seeking to escape the holocaust WE have caused in their homeland.  Those caught smuggling drugs from Mexico into the US are particularly vulnerable and must be given safe harbor.  For them, deportation is a death sentence.

iAmerica.org has up-to-date information (mainly intended for immigrant populations) about US immigration policy.  Join today to learn more and support DAPA/DACA+

Terrorism and Mass Graves in North America

Many would agree that Mexico is our best neighbor. Not only do we share a 2000-mile border, we share many common interests in commerce, international policy, religion, and the environment.

So why do Americans disregard, or simply ignore, the terrorism and wholesale murder of thousands of Mexican citizens caused by the US-led War on Drugs? Why don’t we care that our best neighbors are enduring the worst terrorism of the 21st century?

Perhaps it’s arrogance or discrimination.  Maybe both.  The fact remains that a majority of Americans don’t know what’s happening in Mexico – or they don’t care – or they think it’s somehow justifiable.

Based on new figures from Mexican authorities, the death toll from our War on Drugs now stands at approximately 800,000. If drugs remain illegal in the US for another 3-4 years, the death toll in Mexico could exceed one million. It will go even higher if the country erupts into civil war. There’s plenty of evidence the Mexican people have lost faith in their government, and evidence the lawlessness and terrorism are already out of control. The US State Department is considering closure of US Consulate offices in Mexico because it’s too dangerous for US personnel to remain in the country. There are now hundreds of mass graves across Mexico.  Thousands of reports of people simply vanishing.

Acapulco was once a popular destination for tourists. It’s now the most dangerous city in the Western Hemisphere. Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and other tourist destinations have also become quite unsafe.

I haven’t seen any figures that indicate terrorist groups in the middle east (or elsewhere in the world) have killed anywhere near the number of people dying in Mexico; yet we become very disturbed at news of a beheading or water-boarding overseas. Many methods employed by the cartels and gangs in Mexico, though, make water-boarding or beheading seem mild or even humane. Enforced disappearance might be the very worst type of terrorism – and it’s occurring at an alarming rate in Mexico. Other methods of torture and killing are simply too gruesome to comprehend.  Flaying alive, burying alive, boiling alive in acid and lye – the horror of Mexican terrorism is unprecedented.

Propaganda and half-truths about drugs have kept the American public in ignorance over the likely outcomes of drug legalization in the US for so long we’re not even willing to consider it. What’s more, the truths of our experience with prohibition in the 1920s have been forgotten. The per capita crime rate in the US fell by half when prohibition was ended. Alcohol addiction actually declined after prohibition ended, though not by much.*  More importantly, the rate of recovery from alcoholism increased significantly after prohibition was lifted in 1933.

But we’ve obviously not learned from our own experience.

On a balance, the impact of legalized recreational marijuana in three US states has been mainly positive.  Those states have abolished policies that cause loss of life.  Note that over half the Mexican cartels’ profits are derived from illegal marijuana in the US.  I’ve not seen a single report of death(s) caused by legal marijuana in Washington, Colorado or Alaska.  There’s bound to have been a few, no?

Illegal marijuana, on the other hand, is obviously contributing to horrific terrorism and thousands of deaths – right here in North America.

Legalization of drugs in the US would have many positive effects.  Regulation and taxation would insure greater safety in the drug-using population (drugs would no longer be diluted or concocted with unknown ingredients), greater numbers would seek recovery from addiction, and greatly increased funding for recovery programs and policies would assure those addicts get the help they need. Most importantly, legalization and regulation of recreational drugs in the US would stop the terrorism and killing in Mexico.

Opposition to legalization crosses all political and social lines, too.  It’s not a democratic problem.  It’s not a republican problem.  It’s really not a political problem at all.  It is our problem and it trumps every other problem we face today.

Before we go theorizing or delving into the potential dangers of legalizing recreational drugs, though (impossible without regulation), shouldn’t we first stop the killing? Shouldn’t we be the ones who stand up and stop the terrorism occurring in our neighbor’s homeland? It’s the worst terrorism of the 21st century and its occurring right here in North America. WE are accountable for these atrocities. WE are the cause.

We might advertise ourselves to be champions of freedom and peace in the world – great advocates for the victims of terrorism. But the truth, unfortunately, is that our behavior runs contrary to the ideals we claim to espouse. The American people and policies of their democratically elected government are causing the worst terrorism of the 21st century, and probably the worst terrorism ever experienced in North America.

 

* There is no proven correlation between addiction rates and availability of addictive substances. Drugs do not cause addiction.

The Cause of Addiction?

I’ve been reading Johann Hari’s article, The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think, which the Huffington Post published last week. I’ve seen many references to the article on the internet, so it’s evidently spread quickly and been read by many. It’s basically an excellent essay. Flawed, mostly by ommission, but indubitably worth reading.

I disagree with Hari’s premise that addiction is caused by loss of connected’ness in society. There is too much evidence that genetics, early childhood trauma, brain physiology and chemistry, and other factors play significant roles in causing addiction. Unfortunately, we’ve not yet determined the exact cause, or combination of causes, that lead a young person to experiment with drugs and become hooked – while his peers (many with seemingly identical propensity to addiction) pass through experimentation unscathed. Insomuch as identifying a real cause for addiction is concerned Hari’s premise, at best, is merely another possibility we must add to the investigation.

However, I strongly agree that loss of connected’ness makes addiction worse; and I agree that our war on drugs contributes to our collective understanding that addiction is fundamentally a moral problem. It’s not. The reality, though, is that even long-recovered addicts – along with even the very best-intentioned of our helping professionals – harbor deep-seated beliefs about addiction that are moral in nature. This is not new. Since humans first discovered mind-altering chemicals (namely alcohol) the disease of addiction has been morally stigmatized.

The war on drugs, obviously, has worsened the dillemma by forcing addicts underground to a place where isolation from others only intensifies the terror, bewilderment, frustration and despair which become components of the downward spiral of active addiction. As Hari points out, stigmatization and ostracization are the exact opposite of what addicts most need if they are to recover.

I would argue, though, that loss of connected’ness is a serious and worsening problem for all of us – a problem we simply see more readily in the blank gaze of the addict. We’ve become a nation of hermits. I wholeheartedly agree with Hari’s statement that, “the rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.” We don’t need to limit our discussion of addiction, though, to drug-addiction, alcoholism, or the other better-known “addictions”. I’ve seen obsession with money, property and prestige destroy countless families and lives; yet our systems of government, education and media reinforce these addictions to such an extent we all suffer to some degree and, for the most part, we think it’s alright. We might even call it “the American Dream”, or conclude that it really is “what it’s all about.”

For the longest time I tried to live in smaller spaces, in multi-family housing, because I knew the psychic dangers of isolation and materialism; and because I felt, rightly or wrongly, there were other things in life that simply were more important.

But, even then, it was an uphill battle.

Even in complexes of tiny apartments where we see and hear our neighbors constantly, few people actually know their neighbors. I routinely tried to connect with neighbors, to at least know the names and phone numbers of the people living so close at hand; but I was clearly an exception and considered an oddball by many!

This phenomenon of hermitage only seems to worsen when we look at life in suburban neighborhoods. People live in homes for sometimes 10-20 years without ever knowing their neighbors. More times than not an ambulance shows up next door, we stand on the driveway and watch, but we’re clueless what really happened – and then we choose to remain clueless. Even in moments of enormous need, we find justification for not knowing or caring.

It’s a matter of priorities, I suppose; but it’s difficult to prioritize togetherness and caring for our neighbors when our social imprinting tells us that rent, the car payment, electricity, and our credit report are all more important than deep meaningful relationships with those around us.

It’s certainly worth pointing out, too, that Hari has stumbled onto a phenomenon that’s been well-known since the inception of Alcoholics Anonymous and the blossoming of 12-step recovery programs for numerous types of addiction. At least two thirds of successful recovery in these programs consists of connecting with others. Many would argue that almost none of the recovery process is a DIY proposition. Even the few steps that might be construed as “an inside job” cease to be effective if taken out of the context of connection, relationships, altruism, and deep human caring.

M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Travelled”, spotted the enormous value to all of us, of what came into the world with the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous, when he wrote, “the greatest positive event of the twentieth century occurred in Akron, Ohio. . . when Bill W. and Dr. Bob convened the first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It was not only the beginning of the self-help movement and the beginning of the integration of science and spirituality at a grass-roots level, but also the beginning of the community movement. . which is going to be the salvation not only of alcoholics and addicts but of us all.”

Hmm. The greatest positive event of the twentieth century.

To loosely paraphrase the AA tradition, we must hang together and work together. Otherwise, most of us will die alone. In the case of alcoholism or addiction it’s a form of death whose loneliness, bitterness, despair and sheer ugliness are unrivaled by any other death.

The symptoms of this psychic sickness which leads to annhilation of the alcoholic or addict, though, are symptoms we all share. Isolation and slavery to independence are evident in almost everything we experience, and they cause the longterm wholesale destruction of unity, togetherness, and deep commitments at every level to “be my brother’s keeper”.

To circle back, Hari’s article makes what might be it’s most significant point virtually by omission: that understanding causal relationships is relatively unimportant to solving some of society’s worst problems.  Understanding why the war on drugs causes more than 20,000 unsolved murders every year in Mexico is far less important than simply stopping the war and ending the carnage.  The importance of finding a cause of addiction pales in the light of knowing we have sure-fire solutions for addiction.  If anything, we need to reduce or abandon our quests for causes and begin applying known solutions to our world’s greater difficulties.