Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Carl Sagan and Marijuana

Author:Greg Pierce
Posted:8/23/1999; 9:39:41 AM
Topic:Carl Sagan and Marijuana
Msg #:9794 (In response to 9792)
Prev/Next:9793 / 9795

I don't know when Cosmos originally aired, but I'm guessing around 1980. I was young (born '68), so there's quite a bit I don't remember about it, but there's quite a bit I do (my parents made me watch a lot of PBS, for which i'm grateful).

The part that struck me most, like stepping back from the Earth into space, was a beautiful illustration of the magical complexity of the universe we live in.

One ingredient at a time, first water, then carbon, etc...Sagan filled a tank with the chemical equivalent of a human body.

It helped me understand that while humans are so much more than a pile of common elements, we are also still bound to way those elements interact in predictable--and unpredictable--ways.

Drugs, by definition, play with that chemical balance. Some are healers, other harmful--many are both. Western society's intrigue with toying with that balance has been a central driving force of it's development...the New World likely would never have been colonized if not for sensory experiences offerred by tobacco, coffee and sugar cane--the sanctioned drugs of our modern society. Before that, trade routes to the orient largely developed due to the craving for exotic spices.

To a certain extent, a culture's outlook is a function of the drugs that it consumes. Alcohol, sugar, caffiene are compatible w/ the aggressiveness and rigid heirarchy of capitalism. Tribal cultures that emphasized oneness and natural harmony tended to use marijuana, natural halucenagenics [sp?] and other drugs that encouraged a more peaceful way of living.

Is one right and the other wrong? No. But I think dicotomy between legal and illegal drugs is largely enforced by the desire to find consistency in our culture...which is, perhaps, unfortunate.

I would hope that a better understanding of the influence of drugs in our culture would promote a more sensible attitude towards their consumption.


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