Friday, September 13, 2013

A Fly On the Wall, September 13, 2013

Theatre of Madness
by Jim Murchison

I had to call 911 after an encounter with a street person a couple of days ago. The young man was very drunk and looking for a cigarette and was totally harmless to me but after we parted I heard horns honking and three times I thought: this next car is going to hit him for sure. He made it to the other side where he crumpled down on the mission steps.

Fortunately no one was hurt and no vehicles ran off the road, but it was dramatic and frightening and it affected me for a while. There is a lot that happens in life everyday and I meet a lot of street people in the course of a month. Each one has a story but society in general just wants them forgotten about. During the Vancouver Olympics there were special projects to either employ or hide street people.

Why do we cut from the things that inform and inspire us and then act surprised that our world seems jaded, apathetic and bigoted?

I truly don’t believe that society can save everyone, but I think a mark of civilization is that it cares about addressing a problem rather than masking it. The amount of money that is put into world fairs, sports and extravaganzas to allegedly enrich a community and stimulate business is so out of proportion to investment in humanity, art and expression that it makes me ponder what life is all about.

This street person made me think about what we value. The greatest addiction issue in society is alcoholism. We want to get tough on drugs and prostitution and yet the government has complete control on tobacco, alcohol and gambling. Allegedly the taxes and other revenue we get from these things goes into funding things like the addiction research foundation, sports and medical research. I am not convinced.

So what is my point? We continue to focus on penalties and enforcement above education and rehabilitation. I personally don’t smoke marijuana but when I did I definitely inhaled. I have seen many a life destroyed by alcohol but can’t think of any that have been ruined by weed, yet so much money and effort is wasted fighting the battle rather than just legalizing it.

My final point in this meandering rant of mine is that not only do we not afford ourselves the opportunity to make money on sure-fire revenue and by extension save on impossible enforcement expenses, but when the need to save occurs, cutting funding for education and arts is usually the first recommendation. If you ask why, you will be told that times are tough, we have to cut back and we have to start somewhere.  
Why do we cut from the things that inform and inspire us and then act surprised that our world seems jaded, apathetic and bigoted? If we ever needed imagination and inspiration it is now, but seeds need to be planted if we ever want to harvest the ideas of the future. I am speaking of the next big actual social evolution, not some virtual social networking program. I don't have the answers. I'm hoping someone does.     

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