Live and let live

I was entertaining myself watching YouTube videos the other day. Specifically, I put “drunk drivers” in the search bar and started watching. What you typically get is footage of people taking sobriety tests and failing spectacularly. One very hilarious one was a woman who stubbornly insisted she had consumed zero alcoholic beverages. The standard “heel to toe” test, where you put one foot in front of the other, heel against toe, and take 9 steps forward and 9 steps back to the original spot, was particularly hilarious. And for the following 20 minutes, she insisted she passed the test and should be free to go. The officer told her she was under arrest for suspicion of DUI, and she yelled, “I am not suspicion!”

(Pausing to allow the reader to laugh uproariously.)

Some videos involve a lengthy chase where the drunk driver refuses to stop. Most of the time, these end in the drunk driver plowing into another vehicle. In the comments section of one of these chases, someone said, “Alcohol should be banned. All other dangerous things are banned, so alcohol should be banned also.” Someone replied, “That’s already been done, and it didn’t work. It did give birth to organized crime though.”

That got me to thinking about people’s attitude about booze and drugs. Along with that, my daily Bible study right now is going through all 200 passages that contain the word “believe.” There are a lot of accounts of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, mainly the Pharisees, who stubbornly refused to believe in Jesus. Not only that, but these leaders were also very fond of getting in people’s business, telling them how they are supposed to act, think, and feel. Of course, that continues to this day.

I’ve written before that there’s a big difference between being religious and being spiritual. You can spot religious people very easily. They constantly quote religious clichés and parts of well-known Bible verses. Another popular trait is that they will condemn just about anything the rest of the world perceives as fun and laying down rules for others. These people are convinced that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into grape juice – it couldn’t have been wine, because consuming even one drop of an alcoholic beverage is a sin! All the substances that can alter your state of mind and body are also forbidden (most laws embrace this rule). Fun things like watching sitcoms or a good crime drama are also frowned upon, because most TV is from the devil.

About 40 years ago, the First Lady started the “Just Say No” campaign to convince everyone to swear off drug use. Of course, government has a long history of trying to force people into preferred choices. People hold the insane belief that if something is banned, no one will ever pursue it. The 18th Amendment, banning the sale of alcohol, was the biggest catastrophe. Of course, alcohol continued to be bought and sold, giving rise to bootlegging (and probably NASCAR, as many of the early stars were moonshine runners in the Appalachian mountains). It also birthed the Mafia and organized crime – families and groups of businessmen sought to establish territories where they could dominate the alcohol trade and build immense wealth. By the time the US came to its senses and repealed the 18th amendment with the 21st amendment, the damage was done. Organized crime rings were here to stay. The drug trade became the object of their activities. The “Just Say No” campaign has done absolutely nothing to stop the use of drugs. On the contrary, drug use is at an all-time high today.

I am all-in on many of the basic policies of the Libertarian Party, including “ending the war on drugs.” I think there should be no substance that is illegal – booze, pot, cocaine, meth, heroin, any of it.

“Dude, I thought you said you’re a Christian,” you might be thinking. “Doesn’t the Bible forbid these things?” Not necessarily. For example, contrary to what religious people will tell you, the Bible does not forbid consuming alcohol. It forbids getting drunk. I happen to love the taste of red wine and a well-prepared margarita. “Well, what’s the limit? How many drinks can you drink?” If you are seeking to find a line between drunk and sober so you can get as close to it as possible without crossing it, you are drinking for the wrong reasons. It should be about enjoying something and not desiring to push the boundary.

All the other substances that alter your state of being, such as the aforementioned drugs, should follow the same line of thinking. Marijuana is long known to have painkilling properties. Just because some people want to consume so much of it that they melt into the couch and down an entire box of Twinkies, the rest of us should not be forbidden to use it.

But let’s put the religious/morality part of the discussion to the side for a minute. There are many people who want nothing to do with religion or spirituality. They want to live their lives their way, and that may include consuming massive amounts of mind (and body) altering substances. No matter how much you may desire that they avoid these things, you cannot force them to abandon them. From the time humans were created all the way to the year 2021, using religion, laws, or any other method to force people into a certain way of living has been a spectacular failure. Every method used has done nothing to stop the consumption or observance of things other people object to. Banning or restricting consumption of these substances has not, is not, and never will result in the end of their consumption. We need to end the use of laws in the feeble attempt to do so. You have to let people make their own choices, even if those choices are destructive.

It’s absolutely true that you can use laws to keep people from harming others when using these things. It’s good to make it a crime to operate a vehicle when you have consumed enough of something that your mind is not in top condition. No one should be free to use and then harm someone else’s life or property.

Do I think drinking so much that you can no longer spell your own name is stupid? Yes. Do I think using meth until your teeth are nothing but nubs is completely idiotic? Also yes. But if that’s what you want to do inside your home, go right ahead. Just stay off the road and don’t go trying to exact revenge on an adversary in your altered state. Sleep it off first.

Getting back to the religion part of the discussion… If you call yourself a Christian, you obviously need to obey all the commands of the Bible. But if the person next to you doesn’t want to follow it, you’re wasting your time judging and preaching at them. You can certainly discuss things with people, but God is the ultimate judge, not you. Yes, the Bible does forbid homosexuality. But simply shouting that at people does no good. Same-sex attraction is not a choice. If someone says to me, “I’m a homosexual,” me preaching at them isn’t going to change that. If that person says, “what do you think about me being a homosexual,” then we can talk. (For the record, no one has ever asked me that second question.) I know numerous people who identify as gay or non-binary. They are people just as I am. When I see them, I just want to know if they think the Panthers are for real this year or how are they handling these brutal summers as global warming turns the entire planet into a blast furnace.

The bottom line is, live and let live. No matter how much you think you may be helping people, enacting laws or (figuratively) beating them over the head with a Bible to force them into your way of thinking and behaving is always a lost cause. Let people make their own choices and ensure those around you that you are there for them if they need a helping hand. Be kind to people. Chances are that they may see that vice they’re using the same way you do. If so, they’ll turn to you for help if you haven’t spent all your life telling them how wrong they are.

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