Recently, I went to a restaurant to meet a friend. When I arrived he was in a deep and thoughtful conversation with a young hostess. They were talking intensely about the paradox of California's new smoking law. Apparently, the newly passed law now considers individuals under the age of 21 as minors and precludes them from purchasing and/or smoking tobacco and/or using vapor-smoking devices.
Growing up in America there is a huge focus on, what I now know to be, dysfunctional rights of passage. Much of this, from my research, is created and promoted through music, film, TV, magazines and advertising narratives. These story lines are designed to shape our worldview and the mythology by which the public, you and I, are trained to establish our individual and collective self-image. Noam Chomsky, famed smartest man on the planet from MIT, calls all of this "manufactured consent."
Famed TV and film actors once and still portray the style of being cool, hip and looking sophisticated, intelligent and/or sexy when they smoke cigarettes. So as a result, young people smoke. Drinking a beer or hard liquor is portrayed at the center of fun and laughter were one gets loose and is more likely to pick up someone from the opposite sex. So, young people and adults drink. Gun wielding actors, especially those in crime and war films are modeled as macho, people who have the power (through the gun) to do good, defeat our enemies or disable/kill people who are acting in a life threatening way towards a person being victimized. So as a result, young people are drawn to play with toy guns. Unconscious parents enable them to do. Later, the familiarized grip of the toy gun morphes into a desire to hold and use the real thing. Guns are now used to hunt and kill defenseless animals. Enlisted military personal use them to hunt and kill people, whom our propaganda machine have told us, are bad and deserving of death.
The promoted narratives of these dysfunctional rights of passage never seemed to bring a focus to the downsides of getting lung cancer from smoking, injuring or killing yourself or another as a result of driving while being intoxicated, or killing yourself or others as a result of mishandling a gun or unconsciously taking the life of another person as a soldier. Yes, these realities do indeed occur beyond an attractively engineered narrative that is designed to keep us spiritually asleep and on the treadmill of consumerism.
Yes, these realities and tragedies could serve as a forewarning, yet most of the time, it doesn't. Most of us know someone who died of lung cancer and yet, we continue to smoke. Yes, most of us know of someone who has been seriously injured, died or killed someone else while under the influence and yet, we continue to drink and drive. Most of us know someone who has been killed by a gun or taken the life of an animal or another person with one and yet, as individuals and in society we continue to keep and use guns.
To bring this close to home, I recently learned of a teenage racing friend, who was now in his 50's, had died after a bullet discharged while he was in the process of dislodging it from the gun. Yes, all of these things do happen, and with regularly and yet, we continue to pursue the narrative of glamor sold to us by the media machine rather than consider the downside of tragedy that can likely occur. It is perhaps safe to say that those who play this Russian Roulette with life feel lucky or invincible against the odds that they don't think will happen to them. Indeed, we pray that it doesn't.
Now as for myself, I rarely drink and when I do I have glass of beer or wine. Having one to many, at my age and with my responsibilities is a life-crushing / altering event that I'm not prepared to risk, on any level. I did, admittedly, in my early 20's and on a rare occasion, probably have one to many drinks and drove as a result, irresponsibly. Lucky, I never had a crash, hurt anyone or got a DUI.
I'm not a smoker, and really never, have been. I did, admittedly, as a young teen puff (not inhale - it made me cough) on cigarettes because I thought it looked cool. My Dad saw me once doing this and later never said anything about it to me. I reflected about this and because of my respect for my Father I had the space to think 'Cigarettes can never make me be cool. Coolness comes from inside.' Now, I'm actually allergic to cigarette smoke and fearlessly ask people smoking near me, to move.
I'm not a hunter and was turned off by killing anything at a very early age and as a result of shooting a blue bird with my bee bee gun. I painfully watched it die after I had attempted to save it from my lack of good judgment and cruelty. Fortunately, I missed the Vietnam war draft, because of my young age, and as a result never had to fire a gun at another human being.
Now, back to the conversation with the young and thoughtful restaurant hostess. Though I have an occasional drink, I also don't condone this. I definitely don't smoke and don't condone this. I don't use a gun to hunt/kill and/or protect myself and also don't condone this. However, with all this said there here is a bigger picture at hand that stinks of moral hypocrisy. Simply stated, the US government encourages and allows men and women to enlist in the military once they turn 18. Then, they are de facto authorized and chartered by the US Military, voting Politicians and our society at large to kill and take another persons life in the name of war. So, let me get this right, at age eighteen you are responsible enough to kill and take another persons life and yet not, at this same age, someone who is not responsible enough to smoke and/or drink. Does this sound a little crazy?
Franky, I'm philosophically and intellectually befuddled by the blatant hypocrisy and mind numbing stupidity of elected officials and/or our society at large who have voted to mandate that a person who has just turned 18 has the spiritual, intellectual, philosophical and moral discernment to know when and under what circumstance that they can take another persons life. Again, really, a person whose 18 (or any age for this matter) really has the wisdom to kill a person that they know nothing about and/or then stand responsible for the horrific daisy chain of events that follow the heartbreak and suffering for all who have loved this person throughout their life.
History and our madness continues to repeat itself when our 18 year and older US soldiers failed to have the discernment to see through the propagandized lie that lead them to murder some 1.5 million Iraqi people. These people, who had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 event were actually victimized by the lie of the propaganda machine that lead us to war. And, yes, I could go on and on about this situation and other similar US lead war agendas however, this is not the point.
The point to the craziness is this: We grant God-like (create life take life) permission to an 18 year old to kill and take the soul of another person and yet, we won't, until this person turns the age of 21, authorize them to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes and/or use vapor devices. Come on !!! This is a totally irrational and insane level of thinking. Are you with me on this?
Well, if you are, here is what I suggest we establish as a mandate for our elected officials and/or society who believe in this irrational thinking and have voted for the 21 year of age law that designates adult freedoms and liberties as a right of passage.
I propose we implement a special law that makes it a contractual imperative for any and all Board members, stockholders and/or executive team members of any and all companies who manufacture and distribute any part, element or system of military weaponry including: wiring harnesses, nuts/bolts/screws/rivets, circuit boards, computer systems and software, design elements, fabricated enclosures, fuel, oil/lubricants, tires, chassis, bullets, bombs, missiles, trucks, tanks, planes, ships etc. or service thereto, and/or any member of the US Government who votes to go to war, under any circumstances, to be forever required to indenture, enroll and enlist their children and grandchildren into one of the US military branches for first strike and front line battlefield engagement operations.
Maybe with this contractual imperative in place decision making adults will step back, understand and embody the wise teachings of the Native American people who require, before entering the sweat lodge of spiritual transformation, to say the prayerful words of "Let Nothing Be Done to Harm the Children." Perhaps this contract will compel each of us, before we ever consider going to war, to have us search for what the Jesus figure said, "the kingdom of heaven which dwells within." Perhaps with this place found, and as parents, we will better model only empowering rights of passage to our children...Ones, that inspire only loving wisdom and healthy habits that honor our divine body temples. After all, whether we realize it or not, our children view parents in the light of being their God creators. Perhaps with this knowledge of the heart, we will insightfully follow the true meaning of the Jesus figure quote when he stated, "love our/thy our neighbors as ourselves." Yes, in truth, we are not able to love another until we are first able to hold love and compassion for ourselves.
When each of us are able to choose and express our true and authentic state of BEING, I believe that our individual and collective cultural attractions toward dysfunctional rights of passage will dissolve and fall away. In this true state of BEING, we will not nor ever see 'others' as enemies (meaning 'Not Friend"), we will only know them as our friends.
All great spiritual texts define that when we are in our truest state of love, when we listen to the heart and honor our body temple, we will most likely choose to attract only life affirming foods, substances and experiences. In this, our truest state of SELF, we can only know each person as our brother and sister. Perhaps with the suggested contractual imperative in place, everyone will mindfully embody the teachings of the Course in Miracles that states, "The Salvation of the World Depends on You." Indeed, the salvation of our world depends on each of us authentically loving ourselves so that we can BE and then DO our best. Amen. Let it be so.