For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification~ Romans 14:7 and 19 NIV
I live in the state of Washington.
The state of Washington is famous (some would say infamous) for many things, some of them really wonderful, others not so much. Those things include (but are not limited to) Nirvana, evergreen trees, coffee shops, the Space Needle, apples, rain, seafood, Jimi Hendrix, and of course legalized marijuana.
Sadly, it’s marijuana that gets the most attention.
Typically when I talk to people from outside the state we eventually end up in a ridiculous discussion about drug use in general, and marijuana use in particular.
The conversation typically goes something like this:
Them: “So, you’re from Washington State?”
Them: “So is it true you can, like, buy pot anywhere?”
Me: (tired sigh) “well, not exactly. There are special stores where you can buy marijuana. You can’t get it at Wal-Mart yet. But, I’m sure that’s coming.”
Them: “I hear there are lots of tax benefits to legalizing marijuana. I bet your schools and roads have improved a lot.”
Me: (barely controlling an overwhelming impulse to roll my eyes) “Well, no. Actually the schools are pretty much just bad as they have always been and our roads have potholes roughly the same size as the craters on the moon. However, the riff-raff are taking over the state and our property taxes have gone up every year since marijuana was legalized. Oh, and fatal car crashes involving marijuana have more than doubled since it was legalized. Because of that our auto insurance rates have gone through the roof. So, I guess that’s something.”
Them: “I sure wish my state would legalize marijuana.”
Them: “I just think people should be able to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”
At this point, one of two things typically happens. If I’m feeling charitable I politely tag out and go find someone rational to talk to. If I’m in a bad mood or feeling feisty, I continue the conversation.
I typically begin with the above-mentioned facts regarding taxes, car crashes and insurance rates. I follow all of that up with a few statistics concerning the countless social ills that inevitably follow drug legalization. I usually include some statistics on addiction rates to harder drugs and point out the problems our society already has with children stuck in an overburdened foster care system because their parents are too addicted to drugs to care for them.
The other person typically snaps back with what they believe is the final and conclusive response to every point I have made thus far in the conversation:
“Well, it’s not like any of us are our brother’s keeper. Those are not my problems. Why should I be denied the “right” to use marijuana recreationally and responsibly just because some people move on to harder drugs or use drugs and drive.”
At this point if my sweet husband happens to be within earshot he places his hand gently on my arm and attempts to lead me away from the unfortunate chump who is about to get an earful of my feelings on this subject.
The things is:
I do believe to one degree or another we are our brother’s keeper. Each and every one of us has a sacred duty to look after the health and well being of the other seven billion souls who live on this planet whether we feel like it or not and this is not just about marijuana or drug legalization.
It’s about a little thing we call “being human”.
Decent people voluntarily set aside their own interests and avoid doing things that have the potential to hurt others or lead weak people astray. That is why past generations avoided things like smoking marijuana, cursing in public, using hard drugs, looking at porn in public spaces, and dumping their spouses for younger models. Not just because some of those things were unlawful but also because they had the good sense to understand that those things can and do cause harm to other people, especially children. And the culture was better off for it.
Christians are called to an even higher level of “being human” than the rest of humanity. The Apostle Paul went so far as to suggest we give up eating meat and drinking wine if our eating and drinking causes another person to stumble. I for one believe our society could use a fresh dose of that kind of thinking.