How should we approach drug use in our society?
During prohibition, massive, organized criminal networks arose to serve the demand of a population that wanted alcohol. When it became apparent that these criminal endeavors cause a greater threat to society than legal consumption of alcohol, federal prohibition was rescinded by nullification of an unwise constitutional amendment. The problems were not only the well-armed criminals and speak-easy joints but also an agglomeration of side effects – concentration of crime (such as drinking, gambling, and prostitution), illness and harm due to tainted alcohol, illegal and prolific gun use, and so forth and so on. My cousin Fat used to carry a long pole on cattle drives to probe the sand hills of southwestern Kansas and, when Fat heard that thud of a buried bootlegger keg, the cowboys would have a bodacious party with booze and BBQ in the wilderness.
With Alcohol, the demand never waned, societal problems are huge but not as huge as organized crime, and we all know the many bad outcomes and behaviors associated with consumption of this drug. Our national and Western world symbols are full of subliminal statements that a good time cannot be had without alcohol – just take a look in a movie and see how often this product is shown, how many times someone “needs a drink”, and so forth.
The above two paragraphs could be applied to lots of drugs, notably marijuana, but also cocaine and the generic notion that some substance makes you better than you really are. After all, the supplement business lives and indeed thrives on that generic notion.
One way we know that the prohibition of such substances does grievous harm is the constant invention of new “legal” drugs to evade drug testing and outrun the addition of new chemicals to the controlled substances lists in legal codes. This results in more dangerous substances for which medicine has little knowledge and triage to offer.
One way we know the permitting such substances does grievous harm is the escalation of THC content offered for sale in states that permit marijuana. Higher levels of THC can and do result in psychotic behaviors, not a ravenous appetite. The abundance of illegal substances has overwhelmed law enforcement and the medical world especially because of the ever increasing potency of illegal narcotics, so potent that just some dust (of fentanyl) can cause an overdose through the skin of someone not acclimated to the drug. Such events can be deadly.
Mind-altering drug use creates societal problems which must be addressed
- Our approach has failed. We must admit this.
- Escapism is an innate human characteristic. We must embrace this.
- Story telling methods reveal causality. We must understand the story.
In wartime involving ground troop engagement, it is essential to win the hearts and minds of the indigenous population – to be seen and to be the agents of peace, mercy, and justice in a troubled place. We’ve had varying levels of success at this strategy, but we need it most urgently on the home front. The primary purpose of this strategy, beyond simply being the right thing to do, is to gain the trust of the indigenous population so that a few can keep order of the many.
The opposite tactic, fear and oppression (and imprisonment and torture and murder), is also used to great effect by some governments but almost always fails in the end by popular uprising and bloodshed, and it is not the right thing to do.
That said, these United States have the largest per-capita incarceration rate in the world, and the lion’s share (45% according to the federal bureau of prisons) of that is drug related. No doubt many other crimes are fed by the need for money for drugs. Accordingly, the first wise step is to freely admit that our approach is not working.
Embracing human nature
My momma done tol’ me, when I was in knee pants, my momma done tol’ me son … My momma was right, there’s blues in the night. Thus goes this famous song “Blues in the night” (Lyrics by Johnny Mercer) which would not have been so famous if it hadn’t been true for all of us.
Humans have apparently experienced both blues and celebrations using alcohol for at least five thousand years. Some of our earliest archaeological finds include beer making artifacts, and we know that the Bible discusses wine and “strong drink” (Shekar – Leviticus 10:9, also in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, et al.) – probably about 7-10% alcohol since no stills are known.
My grandmother, Edith, didn’t drink. But when she was tired and feeling low, she’d have her some Geritol which got her moving again. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Geritol was 24 proof (12% alcohol). Edith was not simple minded; she likely knew. Another friend would do the same thing with Nyquil which of course is 20 proof (10% alcohol). And we all know that there’s some truth to joke that you don’t see your non-drinking baptist friends at the liquor store because they duck behind the aisles when they see you come in. Lots of people in our society, most people, seek escapes from the reality that we have made. I certainly do, and I find it here writing or reading books or even working. I’ve addressed a lot of this need for distraction in my post Dealing with Stress and Pain.
The bottom line is this: since the dawn of human civilization, chemical substances have been used to escape (or “broaden”) reality, to dull the edge of the ennui of daily existence, to help tolerate the intolerable, and to get through the blues of the night. This human need cannot be eliminated.
Homer writes of the lotus eaters which seems quite akin to opium dens; drugs of all sorts have been known for millennia, and lots of heroes used them. Indeed, Sigmund Freud used cocaine, Alexander the Great was likely an alcoholic, and the list goes on. Archaeology tells us not only of beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages but also of small tents and cannabis found in burial sites obviously to allow inhalation of “pot”.
Not much is new under the sun and drug use is endemic in and to our culture as the primary means of providing escape. We must accept and face this fact.
Understanding the Story
Coherent story telling is as old as human drug use. If we are to understand and improve society, we have to be able to tell and discuss the stories behind our problems. Rudyard Kipling gives some good advice on telling stories.
“I keep six honest serving-menRudyard Kipling, The Elephant’s Child
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!”
Let’s review the elements of this story to gain better insight.
Most likely, you’re thinking that this is an easy topic. “What” of course refers to drug use. I respectfully disagree. Let’s talk it out.
Throughout human history, the need to have something to “take the edge off” of life has been a staple of life, culture, and literature. Alcohol, beer in particular, has been in use since our earliest archaeological finds. Drugs are the mechanism by which the edge is dulled but the “what” is really the desire to dull that edge.
I myself still smoke, I used to drink, I understand that potent desire to have something to cut the tension, to give an enhanced sense of well being however false that impression may be. I personally find study and writing to be servants in this quest, and I know from my youth how powerful an escape into immersive readings of fiction can be. Readings such as the Lord of the Rings or the Dune Series or any of a number of books providing an alternative reality focused escape.
So, perhaps we are better defining what a bit more in tune with the nature of the human what, not the items involved:
What is the human need to achieve a temporary escape from or dulling of the stressors of daily life.
Why people need to escape or dull the edge is a complex problem. We often equate this why to addiction which is a circular reference – addiction occurred in the first place because people found it pleasing to use the substance, not simply because the substance existed or because they used it to dull pain.
Seduction: It is true that opioid pain medications can be seductive, I know, I’ve been prescribed these medications many time for intense pain and have taken them. The seduction occurs, at least partially, due to the fact that the efficacy of pain relief decreases well before the time for the next dose, leading some to take that dose early and there you go, you’re in an addictive cycle of increasing dosage. If you take these medications, you simply must follow the prescribed dosage and intervals.
Failure to rigidly follow directions can lead to addiction, seeking multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors, getting drugs off of the street, and thereby lead to an exit into a hard core addiction and the use of more potent substances as bodily tolerance builds up. To be sure, the “high” from opioids requires constantly escalating or intermittent dosages as the body becomes attuned to the effect of the drug. Control of pain does not, however, require that escalation. I’ve never fallen into the trap; I know people who have.
Many overdose deaths occur when people have been away from opioids long enough for their bodies to return to normal sensitivity and then resume drug use that their former escalated dosages resulting in bodily intolerance to and over dosage of the drug.
Peer Pressure/Exploration: Johnny did it and it looked like fun. Mary won’t go out with me if I don’t get with the group and share some (pick the substance). I just wanted to know what it was like (typical of LSD).
Peer pressure, exploration of sensation and sensuality, the notion of being cool, the thrill of being on the wrong side of the law, and false sense of impunity, the stories told in movies, the notion of super pills and super humans, all of these things lead people to make poor choices and end up with a habit to feed. I started smoking to look more adult in the threatre circle, and yes, to look more adult to a certain woman.
Life Sucks: Think of the movie Airplane and Lloyd Bridges – picked the wrong week to quit smoking, picked the wrong week to quit drinking, picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. Those scenes escalated as the tension in the comedy escalated – all were coping mechanisms for stress and the nature of life as we find it.
All of that is of course both a paradox and a losing proposition. It’s one thing to have an escape in a book or even a night drinking. It’s another thing for one’s ability to function in society to be diminished or completely eliminated as we see in Lloyd’s glue scene. Thus the paradox is that while the individual may indeed be freed from concern of reality at present, that freedom results in worse outcomes that must needs be tended to when reality returns thereby increasing the stress from which one sought to escape in the first place. Thus, the proposition loses as life descends to and depends on drug use, illegal activities, the constant risk of arrest, and usually the loss of livelihood.
This descent into a worse life is coupled with the loss of reason in drug altered mental processes. Where rational thought cannot prevail, good choices cannot be made. Drugs, like love and hate, are potent adversaries of rational thought.
But, you see, for many or even most, life does suck. The pressures of societal requirements are constant, and the poor are hard pressed. The rich seem to be given a pass on rampant drug use while the poor are incarcerated. In my world, it would be the other way around – the rich need to be an example because they are in the public eye and mercy should be applied most often to those hardest pressed, the poor and oppressed. That’s how we win the hearts and minds of the people, in a word, justice.
When, How, Where
I once knew of a case at my job where it became obvious that a worker showed up for work sober yet left the job drunk just about every day. Of course, no blood tests or breath tests were taken, it was just obvious that he was impaired. Over the course of time, they inspected everything on him and watched him intensely. He eventually retired, and they asked his secret which he told them. In his thermos was a balloon filled with vodka. After he was checked and got to his job, he’d use a pencil to break the balloon.
When is all the time for some people, after work for others, and on weekends for still others. It depends on the level of escapism, as does How which of course involves everything from cocktails to pills to huffing to snorting to injections to smoking. Some even seek highs by partial strangulation during sex or autoerotic asphyxiation, poor David Carradine.
So, we could say anytime, any way, anywhere.
NIH statistics tell us:
Prevalence of Drinking: According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.3 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.0 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 55.3 percent reported that they drank in the past month.NIH Website
The CDC tells us that, in 2017, 11.2% of the population over 12 years of age used illicit drugs, 50.7% used alcohol, and 22.4% used tobacco.
Who? The majority of the population.
Most of us, from time to time, engage in some form of chemical escapism as part of our normal lives to celebrate a good day or to dull the pain of a bad one. We often view the use of these chemicals as a reward, even a right and strongly assert that the liberty to take personal risks is our right and is essential to our society. Accordingly, our society views some substances as an individual risk-taker choice that does not impact others. “No harm, no foul.” This is the essential argument for legalization, along with the reality that our regulatory system of federal drug is relatively recent; drugs came under federal regulation with the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic act and that regulation and incarceration is not working well – we should duly note that this 1938 act was originally intended to protect people from tainted and unsafe drugs, not to limit what substances people could consume.
The “no-harm no foul” argument is contradicted by clear evidence of large scale impact caused by the use of chemical agents by one party on other parties. Evidence includes, but is not limited to, the following summary items.
- Alcohol is involved in many domestic disputes which can be quite dangerous and even deadly for those involved and the police officers responding to calls for help. This is also true of other chemical agents
- People insist in driving while impaired
- Some substances frequently cause aggressive behaviors and assaults (e.g., Meth)
- Persons cohabiting with chemical users are at risk due to aggressive behavior and irrational / psychotic episodes leading to assault, battery, and inability to safely perform normal activities of life (resulting in fires and other dangerous outcomes)
- Unless you’re using drugs on a rock in the middle of the ocean, you’re likely putting someone else in danger
From these two stories, a more complete story emerges.
Humans have long used chemical agents as reward and coping aid for their daily lives. Chemicals that provide a feeling of euphoria “enhanced feeling of well being” have long been sought after as “the cure”. Use of such substances is broad in our society and indeed throughout the world yet these United States are experiencing an unprecedented population of people addicted to chemical substances that pose a threat to the users as well as other members of society. This rise is a long and complex progression involving seductive, experimental, and stress based motivations for chemical use resulting in addiction and dependence. Some demographics, notably the poor, have long known that the “no harm no foul” mentality is wrong, and have endured the issues resulting from this problem which we only now begin to address as suburbia is also badly impacted. To be clear, illegal drug dealers, drug laws and enforcement, focused on people of color (including of course Asian migrants with opium dens) at the onset of large scale chemical dependence which in and of itself knows neither race nor ethnicity nor gender. Broad based white citizen use of Marijuana has led to several states breaking ranks with the Federal Government in legalizing this substance.
Long and mandatory sentence requirements passed under the Clinton administration which sought to deter drug use arguably compounded the problem. People, in many cases, serve more time for drug possession than they do for manslaughter, rape, or murder. This fact undermines the justice system and the common man hypothesis that undergirds merciful justice. Trust in the police has eroded as personal and vehicle searches for drugs and drug paraphernalia become the norm, with any probable cause being sought and used. Unhappily, rather than harassment, a large percentage of these searches does, indeed, find illegal chemical substances and methods of delivery.
Our simple solutions have been twofold: dry up supply and dry up demand. Neither has met with success and drug related violence has rapidly escalated due to the large amount of money involved. Selling drugs becomes a viable albeit illegal quick cash strategy for the poor and oppressed in a manner far less organized than alcohol distribution during prohibition, likely due to the weight and volume of product required for alcohol distribution.
Philanthropic and merciful charities, and government agencies, are making valiant attempts to stem the rising tide by compassionate enforcement and providing assistance in treatment. Police enforcement is becoming less rigid and tickets are more prevalent than incarceration (a good policy but one required by our full jails).
The story has neither solution nor ending because we’ve not really dealt with our worldview issues “what is wrong” and “what’s the solution”. It is to those questions that we now turn.
- Who are we?
- Where are we?
- What’s wrong?
- What’s the solution?
- What time is it?
When added to Kipling’s serving men, these questions provide the meta-narrative that allows for holistic readings of works from ancient or, indeed, modern authors as well as better understanding of our political and cultural divisions which are often, perhaps most often, a result of groups having different answers to these questions. Let’s have a crack at answers for these questions as we look for the solution to our problem.
Who are we?
We are Americans, a group of loud mouthed bold argumentative people determined to make the great experiment launched by our founders work for every person in our country. We are generous, donating more to charitable causes per capita than any other country in the world. We are also wealthy in comparison to those countries, and are truly the “1%” of the world.
As Americans, we know that our system has flaws, we know that our society has done terrible things, we know that our justice system is unjust especially towards the poor and people of color. Across the board, we are determined to fix our systems, but we lack agreement on what the fixes are.
We live in a land of constant disagreement and frustration. Our government is often deadlocked and seems to ignore basic facts. We are stuck in a long war in Afghanistan and Iraq, but so long as the wars are off-shore, we don’t really mind. When they come to the homeland, we become united as we saw immediately after the events of 9-11-2001.
Our freedom loving culture accepts outspoken and tempestuous demonstrations and debates. This is our heritage. Violent insurgency is not tolerable, yet the situation with illegal chemical use is tantamount to a violent insurgency without a political purpose. It is as if a large percentage of the population decided to ignore stop signs and stop lights.
Where are we?
We are in the United State of America, a land of opportunity and self governance. We enjoy many freedoms and liberties, and thrive on the freedom to innovate and disagree.
We are experiencing a crisis of illegal substance use and abuse resulting in violence towards and between dealers and users, overdose deaths, deaths and injury to first responders, and deaths and injury of innocent bystanders and drivers. Medical and rehabilitation facilities are overwhelmed. Police carry Narcan to render life saving first aid to those who have overdosed.
The illegal drug trade is flush with cash. It involves a lot more than illegal drugs, also including human trafficking (enslavement), prostitution, gambling, violent gangs, assassinations, and other impacts of what amounts to concentrated manifest evil among us.
We have tried stiff penalties to curb demand and drug dealing to no avail. We have tried intercepting drug shipments with some success but always leading to more sophisticated methods of delivery from foreign countries and labs within our homeland. The amount of money involved facilitates design and procurement of special aircraft to evade detection as well as custom designed submarines. Intervention is spotty at best.
In some cases, various groups view drug use as endemic and important for their cultural identity. This is especially true with Marijuana use. There is wide disagreement on what should and should not be legal to consume further feeding the problem inasmuch as data indicates escalation from one substance to a more potent substance. This is perhaps facilitated by drug dealers offering samples of encouraging the use of new substances; after one is in the illegal realm, many things are possible.
Gun violence has become rampant, at least partially fueled by the drug business. The use of automatic weapons is on the rise, and our police have become militarized in response treating citizens as though they were an enemy soldier. This has occurred for good reason and is not simply “police brutality”.
All of these things form a close parallel with the era of alcohol prohibition yet the alcohol prohibition problem involved almost purely domestic sources while this problem involves sources and issues spanning the entire globe.
What’s the solution?
The solution to our problems is to reduce the need not to reduce the demand. As we’ve discussed, the need cannot be eliminated but it can be reduced by taking into account what it is that makes people want to chemically escape in the first place and dealing with those root causes holistically and individually as best we can.
We’ve discussed several roots for the need: Seduction, Peer Pressure/Exploration, and Life Sucks. The solutions must be effective in reducing all three, so three separate solutions are required.
Our present approach is to severely restrict the use of opioids for pain management – both short and long term. This is contradicted by studies in recent wars showing that long term “phantom” pain results from allowing intense pain to persist vs. immediate use of morphine. Therefore the solution requires balance between what is a good medical practice and what allows someone to fall into the seductive trap of opioids. By the way, this is also true for other medications such as Valium and Xanax; opioids are far from the only chemical causing problems in our society (Meth is not opium based, for instance).
The best way to do this is for patients to have an on-going relationship with a personal physician that is tracking their progress, and for that physician to be aware of the pitfalls of medications. It is essential to detect and deter dependence building behaviors early on in the patient being treated, and to network doctors and pharmacies to detect doctor shopping the Rxs for the same pills in different places. I once knew a wealthy addict who would fly around the country keeping doctor’s appointments to feed his habit “legally”.
Our changes to medical care have not helped this situation because personal relationships with the PCP are on the wane. We need to address this gap for all persons, we need to educate all persons on the importance of keeping on their medical dose / time requirements, and we need to provide some additional medication in skewed dosages to reduce the pain levels between opioid doses (as the opioid wears off). For over the counter drugs, this can be done with Ibuprofen and Tylenol which can be taken, according to my doctor, concurrently thereby allowing them to be separated in time to even out the wear-off pain cycle. Do consult your doctor before trying such a strategy.
In summary, the solution here is complex and requires engagement between the patient and the treating physician on a personal level. Dose quantities should be reduced forcing more frequent interaction with they physician to ensure that dependence is not developing and that pain is managed. At any rate, that’s my solution.
Peer Pressure / Experimentation
We see, in statistics, significant drug use in persons as young as 12 years old. One supposes this is to look adult and to fit in with the older crowd. I simply can’t imagine this but it appears to be true according to data that I trust.
That being said, we must be sending a societal message that drug use is something that grown-ups do. Some can recall the funny drunk in the Andy Griffith Show, more can recall the wife “sleeping with prince Valium” in Beetlejuice. There’s no telling how many television and movie episodes show drug use as a matter of fact “no harm no foul” thing. Indeed, Pulp Fiction is one of the view movies where I’ve seen a correct overdose depiction, but it nullifies that by a single shot of adrenaline making the OD’d character “good to go”.
I know from someone dear to me that used to jog the trails of Kingwood, Texas (aka Kingweed) that it was very difficult to address marijuana use in the schools when the parents often had a bong sitting on their patio tables visible from those greenbelt trails. At the same time, I knew a dear man whose son died alone in an Embassy Suites in Dallas after taking an overdose of black tar heroin. My friend could not forgive himself for tolerating his son’s marijuana use (my friend had smoked quite a bit in college) which he believed to have enabled his son’s death.
The simple solution is to blame the parents, the lack of nuclear families, the schools, and so forth. That is not a solution at all; it is an affixing of blame.
There does not seem to be an adequate solution to this problem. People are people and they will experiment with all sorts of things, not the least of which is sex (drugs and rock & roll).
There are, however, possible steps to reduce this trend. As I’ve written, I don’t believe that people get the real picture of what drug use entails – the bad and the good. I for one, as I’ve written in my book, have visited people in detox facilities and “looney bins” – notably my mother. I’ve seen people living in a different and distinctly unpleasant world, yelling and screaming and restrained. I’ve known people who’ve had unplanned LSD trips after taking a single dose (sometimes this happens – another trip without another dose). Yet I don’t see these bad outcomes depicted in our TV shows and media except as an arrest or something like that. The experimenter will believe that this can’t happen to them. Our message must be “this can certainly happen to you”. We need to press our media, TV, and Movie creators to make sure that the true impact of drug use comes through in their offerings. That’s a first step.
A second step may be to retreat from the notion that college is a time of discovery. I lived at home during college, which is perhaps the best case. Discovery should occur with the mentoring and guidance of adults that have been there already, not with the advice of other young people who, as Marcus Agrippa put it, “have just learned to piss in a pot”. College students, like high school students, need more room to grow but they also desperately need mentors and counselors in this process. People who can alert the parents (or authorities) early if a problem is developing.
On the bright side, I can tell you that I work with a lot of employees fresh from college. These people give me hope: their skills are amazing, their diligence and ethics are highly developed, and they do a damn fine job. Therefore, in all of this, we must remember that we seek to help, not to control.
Data do not provide the categories that I’ve used, nor do they support binning into those categories. That said, and based on history, this is probably the largest reason for chemical use: life sucks and then you die leading to the conclusion “let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”.
If we lack hope for the future, descent into hedonistic pleasures, where they can be found, is inevitable. Our problems with increasing chemical use may be an indicator that we live in a society dominated by stories with bad endings and people who have little hope of bettering their existences. No hope that “it gets better” as the Trevor Project puts it. It doesn’t get better, it gets worse – that’s what we hear from every media outlet.
The god-like status of celebrities and wealthy individuals hearkens all the way back to Greco-Roman culture whereupon some turned to worship the living demigods among them because that relationship brought about real, tangible, benefits. This, in large measure, is the story of the Mafia and other organized criminal endeavors, providing protection and justice in a system that fails, but doing that for a high price and outside of the law. After all, the rise of Rome was possible because of mutual protection arrangements with client states, and the sure knowledge that violation of those agreements by a client of Rome would result in obliteration of the client state and its population. It was, in large measure, a protection racket. So too, the gangs in Mexico and America.
It is clear that we do not want to admit to or to address this problem. Our difficulties in so doing are perhaps because we do not want to admit that hopelessness is broad based in our culture. We’d rather relegate it to people who are not like us: the poor, the homeless, people of color, LGBTQ, and the list of groups assumed to be hopeless or partially hopeless grows. While the efforts to reach and address these groups are an important and very positive step in the right direction, we must, we simply must, face the fact that this ennui is dominant in our society across all boundaries. Our nation faces the new “great depression” – not economic depression but, rather, cynicism and despair.
Several actions need to be taken to remedy this depressed state of being, and to be sure promises are not actions. There are lots of differing even opposing opinions of what those actions must be, so let me not embark on my personal views but, rather, espouse the need for visionary leadership with an articulate and fact based view of the future, how we will move to eradicate predatory and usurious lending (title loans, credit cards that bump interest rates on a single missed payment increasing the likelihood of default, and so forth), to pay living wages, to provide affordable housing, to eliminate tax havens encouraging gentrification and incredible price rises in areas where affordable housing exists and so forth and so on.
This is the solution. Accountable, visionary leadership. That’s near impossible to come by, but we need to make the American tale a success story, not a mythology of times passsed.
What time is it?
In N. T. Wright’s theological circles whence these questions come, “time” is generally relative to the eschaton – the end, the day of the Lord, Judgement day, and the study of the eschaton, eschatology, to craft actions to be held in the right on that day.
In this post, “What time is it” refers avoidance of a dystopian future where hope is lost and (1) The maxim hard work pays off in the end becomes untrue and (2) our society decays and falls into the confused state that Rome fell into leading to the dark ages.
What time is it? It’s time to save our country, to ask what we can do for our country rather than demanding services from her. We must care for each other!
It’s time to embrace each other with the sure knowledge that our society is built on a platform that is made to constantly change. It’s time to work together to learn about each other and our cultures, to understand what rules are laws are oppressive and what rules and laws work well.
It’s time to admit to our failures, to admit that the formal hostilities of the civil war concluded with informal bigotry and hate ensconced in our land as a pitiful excuse to withhold equal protection and integration from the formerly enslaved. So, too, for all peoples of color, all recent arrivals, and all whom our society has oppressed and repressed – the women, the LGBTQ, the “other”. It’s time to embrace each other and use everything and everyone we’ve got to come together and make the changes in America that lead to lives that are filled with hope rather than despair. That’s what time it is.
And, yes, we can do it. Only loud mouthed, pig headed Americans could be up to this task, and we most assuredly are.