I think you know by now, I am of the double standards school of operating. Do as I say not as I do. For example, I take a on the right side of morality judgement when it comes to my cost centres and drink and drugs, though much less judgemental when it comes to others and their recreational pursuits (I’m so glad my cost centres think I’m too boring to read my writing!)
It’s fascinated me how we humans need ‘get out’ clauses from our day to day. Somehow we have turned life into a circus which would tear us apart if we did not have escapism. Therapy, alcohol, drugs, religion — all man made inventions to cope with our existence and disappear from ourselves. It is odd we would choose to live this way Or perhaps this was always inevitable — our hunger for more: knowledge, ability, materialism. Sentiment cannot keep pace. But this is too simplistic. These tools of evasion have endured for thousands of years; guzzled by us in seemingly simpler times. I wonder then the quirk of human nature that demands respite.
‘Fermented beverages’ have existed for thousands of years in various guises across many different cultures. In China from c7,000 BC, India c3,000years ago, Babylonia and ancient Greece. Alcohol was probably not so much invented as discovered; a by product of rotten fruit, fermented grain or rice. As to why we started consuming? Well it turns out we have been able to tolerate alcohol for longer than we have been human — but we have no answer as to why. For drugs the historical legacy is more mixed and pre-dates written history (c5,500BC). Cannabis seeds have been discovered in archeological digs in Asia dated c8,000 BC, Opium was experimented with in Europe in c6,000 BC and there are reports of people getting high on Weed in c450 BC. Psychedelics may also have been used by American indigenous tribes several thousand years ago. Peyote has been carbon dated to 4,000 BC in North America, Magic mushrooms in Mexico were consumed by tribes in Oaxaca, c500 BC — possibly earlier and, there was the brewing of Ayahuasca tea by Amazonian tribes. Why? Same answer. We don’t really know. Per-chance it was spiritual or ritual usage or perhaps they also used drugs — this class termed psychedelics, as a form of escapism. Life was not easy then either. War, death from plagues, power struggles were all regular features of existence.
Whatever the reasons, in modern times, the desire to engross ourselves in alcohol or drugs raises mixed opinions. We aren’t really sure of what we think because in truth it’s nuanced and complicated. Harmless fun, confidence boosting, taking the edge off, party enhancing, potent and disruptive, void filling, begetter of violence and crime, addictive…deathly. Ask me tomorrow and I might have a different view of this continuum than today. But to me it is a continuum. Used in excess any dis-inhibitor can be devastating for an individual and for the fabric of society; physically destroying lives and taking people down dangerous selfish pathways. My sense is we probably think of hard drugs (heroin for example) as a pied piper on this road, but I am amazed and frightened at human ingenuity in finding our way out of our heads through everyday items such as glue, helium capsules, cough syrup, nutmeg, motion sickness tablets….let alone what is illicit. Don’t mis-understand me. I’m well aware taking Cocaine is not the same as a glass of red with dinner but from why we want to tuck in to its impact on us, deconstructing this tangle of inebriation is not simplistic.
But let’s be honest. Without much pondering, many of us have experimented with drink and drugs. I like to think there were no unintended consequences from my doing so; that I have always had control over my needs. Although I love being that witty, brilliant individual I’ve always wanted to be after vino, like an alter ego, I can pack that character up at whim. I think it is mostly normal to fit in that camp. But we don’t all do. I’m sure we all know stories of those who have scurried down the dangerous selfish pathway without volition. I’m sure at some point they thought they were normal too. Which is why as a parent you are torn. You desperately justify allowing your cost centres to also experiment; by encouraging support in a safe environment you rationalise you are protecting them from the excesses of the world and themselves. But you never know if you are doing the right thing. That just perhaps your Laissez Faire attitude is what might push them down the merry road to hell.
And it’s not just humans who enjoy substance abuse. Many different birds get drunk on fermenting fruit; so can squirrels, monkeys and elephants. Possibly accidentally. Dolphins are known to use pufferfish to get high as a pufferfish will inflate and secrete a psychoactive poison when it is threatened. I found this unattributable quote: ‘Groups of dolphins will capture a pufferfish and pass it around, rather as college students will pass the bong, if the bong were yellow, spiky, and very unhappy about the situation’.
But intoxication fits in my theory (another) of how to solve for world peace. You know what is coming. When we take the edge off somehow everyone is more amenable; somehow problems are not so intractable. Somehow I like everyone and wish them success and happiness. Aren’t those the ingredients for progress? Do you think a bottle of wine should be a prerequisite when going into verbal combat?
I stated earlier double standards are my parenting MO. If I am honest, this is key to how I pass down those virtues we all think we should have. Work hard at school (more than I ever did)…don’t swear…(I’m a trooper)….there’s more to life than money…..(I’ve been investing in the stock market roulette since 15)….be kind to people, you don’t know what is going on for them (there are many people I’d like to punch in the face)….don’t binge drink…..
Don’t judge me. Just have another drink….