Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wishful Thinking/Hypocritical Action

I think most of you know that I write a column for Skunk Magazine. It's an irreverent but tasty marijuana magazine out of Montreal. The column is called Drug War Follies. I get to write anything I damned well please about the drug war. Most of it is rotten stuff: whether it's about the awful situation in the Mexican states along the US/Mexican border or the imprisonment of non-violent drug users or how money can corrupt; nearly all of what I write is about pain. And that makes me angry. I'd rather be writing a column about how people were nice to each other today. I'd rather be writing about how the CEO's of every company and corporation in the world just decided to give their workers a little bit bigger piece of the pie and how they're all going to start training programs, with pay, for the jobless.
Freaking bleeding heart, I know.
So this is the opening of the new Drug War Follies column that I'm putting to bed just 48 hours before tipping out and heading to Peru for five weeks. This column will probably appear in about eight weeks.
Between the time this was written and the time you read this, several thousand marijuana users in the US will have been sent to mostly privatized jails around the country, another 1,000 people will have died in the Mexican Drug War, and untold suffering will have been unleashed on medical marijuana users. All of it pointless if peace and decency is an aim. Unfortunately, for many people, peace and decency only apply to those who make the rules; those who want to live by other rules, or change the rules, be damned.
And I wish that weren’t so.
I’m writing this as I prepare to head down to the Peruvian Amazon again, my home away from home here in bucolic Joshua, Texas. I’ve got a group to take out to the deep green. They’ll ride on overcrowded flat-bottomed riverboats under the Amazon sky. They’ll see fantastic jungle and hike in slightly terrifying swamps and have the opportunity to do all sorts of good medicines—like ayahuasca and magic shrooms and the Matses’ medicines sapo and nu-nu—some of which would land them in deep trouble here in North America. They will come back refreshed, renewed and ready to face the world with new strengths and abilities.
I wish everyone could join me. I wish everyone could take a few weeks off from serving jail time for non-violent drug crimes and come with me out to the deep woods. Hell, I wish the private prison profiteers would come with me: I guarantee that when they returned they’d understand that it ain’t fucking right to make money off people’s suffering. And to encourage more suffering to keep them private jail cells filled and the bottom line fat and happy. Hell, yes, I wish I could take Joe Arpaio out to the woods and have him drink ayahuasca and then come back a different person with a whole different set of beliefs.
I wish that between the time I finish this and the time you read it amnesty gets called for non-violent drug crimes and marijuana gets legalized. I wish that in the next several weeks ALL drugs would be legalized, which would end a lot of killing in Mexico and a lot of slavery on the pot farms in parts of Africa and elsewhere. And end the need for those damned prisons. And end the fear so many people face when they get that awful knock on the door, or have the door knocked in.
I wish all that peace and decency but I won’t hold my breath. Because to ever get there from here, short of divine intervention, is going to take work. Hard work. Education, protests, pulling money from the companies that support the private prisons run by GEO and the Corrections Corp. of America and other bottom feeders whose money comes directly in proportion to the amount of suffering that’s inflicted by criminalizing the behavior of good and decent folk.
That’s a lot of work that needs to be done. And here I am heading off to Peru instead of doing it. Sometimes I feel like a fucking hypocrite for sure.


Graccus said...

Peter have a great time giving those folks a great time. First met you just back from a trip with a seriously aggravated spider bite on your leg and I says to myself I need to travel with this character. OK next year ... screwed up again and invited a pretty lady to come visit this to get my priorities straight! Spiders, than the ladies!

tanya kilpatrick said...

thank u peter. i LOVE THIS blog on prisons and drugs. i'll be thinking about you and your travelers. i still remember our trip 2 years ago. yes it is life changing event for sure.!! enough of us will made a real difference on this beautiful planet. ment to email you before u left. just wondering if u got a small package from me? love you.tanya