I have an idea.
Let’s create a village of 1000-2500 people. Let’s tell them that they HAVE TO go there; that their entire lives depend on it. And let’s create rules and standards and let’s make 10% of the people in the village responsible for enforcing these rules and standards. The Enforcers will have no ability to punish or motivate the other 90%–you know, the Regulars– and they will mostly lack the skills to inspire anyone, but we’ll give them the responsibility anyway.
Now let’s make it the responsibility of the Enforcers to tell everyone in the village that they are not allowed to eat sugar because sugar is bad for them and will ruin their lives. The Enforcers will think of the village as a ‘safe zone’ where everyone will agree that sugar is bad and no one will choose to eat it.
Except that the Regulars in the village have found many sources for sugar. And they share it amongst themselves secretly. A lot of them eat sugar at least once per week and some eat sugar every day. Many of the Enforcers know about this and pretend not to know and continue to tell everyone how bad eating sugar is. Some of the Enforcers even eat sugar too, but of course they would never admit this.
Everyone outside the village is enraged that so many Regulars in the village are eating sugar. They blame the Enforcers and they look for a few of the Regulars to blame the sugar-eating on. No one ever considers that maybe all the Regulars should leave the village to get away from the available sugar because, after all, the entire future of the Regulars depends on them being IN the village and following–or pretending to follow–the rules and standards of the Enforcers.
Hundreds of villages like this continue to exist and every one has the same problem–the Enforcers say ‘Don’t eat sugar’ but the Regulars find and eat sugar as often as they want. Every village continues as it always has.
You know what I’ve just described, right?
And you know what the sugar is, right?
A friend’s 15-year-old daughter just completed a big project and presentation on drug use and it’s dangers for one of her classes. I commented to the friend that I’m sure it’s great project, but what was the point? To get kids not to use drugs? Because it’s going to have absolutely no effect on that decision whatsoever.
My friend was somewhat offended. ”So how are kids supposed to learn that drugs are bad if they don’t learn it at school?”
Let’s just say that she and I will not being seeing eye-to-eye on that issue.
I think drug education begins in the home at an early age. Last winter the police raided a house in my neighbourhood that was a marijuana grow-op. I told my children exactly what had been going on in that house as we watched the officers remove hundreds of plants. I explained how some people choose to do things to their bodies that feel good for a while but do long-term damage that they may not discover for a long time. I explained how sometimes people feel so sad or broken or angry or lonely or scared or confused that they don’t care if they damage their bodies–they just want to feel better. I explained that sometimes when we are with people who act that way that we might get confused and think that we might need to put drugs into our bodies too to make us feel good.
My daughters looked at me in surprise. Why wouldn’t we already feel good? Why would we wreck our perfectly healthy bodies? Why indeed.
Friends, it is not enough for parents and teachers to say “Don’t use drugs. Drugs are bad.” My Partner-Guy’s 17-year-old niece estimates that 3/4 of the kids in her highschool use illegal or illegally obtained drugs or excessive alcohol at least once per week and that of those kids, 1/2 do it every day. Her numbers may be a little off, but that is apparently her experience. The Don’t-Use-Drugs message isn’t working, and parents, teachers, administrators and journalists(!) need to stop being shocked by the number of kids using drugs.
You can’t create a village where drugs are easily accessible and then tell kids not to use them. Is 75% of the general population using illegal or illegally obtained drugs at least once per week? I kind of doubt it. So why have we created a place for kids to create a culture where drugs are more or less OK that is unique only to them? Why do we sanction this behaviour as ‘normal’? Why do we expect teens to ‘rebel’ and ‘experiment’ and then act with moral outrage that they didn’t learn any better how to behave?
I’m not a perfect parent and I don’t know what the future holds for my children and I. But I know from the research that people who feel hurt or scared or lonely or unloved or confused or violated or neglected or angry are far more likely to abuse their bodies with drugs than people who are secure, confident, self-motivated and loved. I am grateful for the knowledge and tools to raise my children where they can experience security, confidence and love as a daily part of their lives. I can’t live their lives for them or protect them from every upset or disappointment, and I don’t want to. But I can give them tools to handle the hard times. I can accept them as they are every day. I can inspire them to pursue their full potentials.
And I can keep them out of the artificial culture created in schools so that they can live authentically and grow in their own truth and wisdom.
Yes. I can.