A Sunday Chat with Myself—”Our Passion to become Zombies”

“Marijuana is a much bigger part of the American addiction problem than most people – teens or adults – realize.” —John Walters

The Canadian government will be legalizing the recreational use of marihuana on Oct. 17 of this year, making Canada the first of the Group of Seven countries to do so. The government, in its great compassion and foresight, has placed some restrictions on who can use the stuff, but we know how well our youth follow adult advice! Right? I mean, we were youth once, and remember what we did when our elders told us not to do something? The news media isn’t throwing much common sense on the topic, either.

Dr. Robert Schwartz of the University of Toronto has some concerns. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Dr. Schwartz said, “One of the biggest accomplishments of tobacco control was to de-normalize the act of smoking, so there’s a fear that as smoking marijuana becomes more accepted, the act of smoking on a whole will [again] become more accepted.”

Marihuana has a known 33 carcinogens in it, so my question this Sunday is, “Why is our world suddenly become so fascinated with this drug that obviously has dangerous side effects?” Are we becoming a suicidal nation and, like lemmings, following each other to our eventual demise?

While giving a reason for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, our Prime Minister first had to admit that the present regulations on the non-medical use of the drug have not worked! So, is legalizing marihuana a better choice? Instead of financing expensive G7 summits and globetrotting on other “charitable” and business ventures, might it not be more financially sound to spend that money educating, especially the young, on the dangers of recreational use of marihuana?

Just imagine how great Canada could be if more of us spent time pursuing ventures that would benefit us and our neighbors, instead of selfishly indulging in harmful activities that just thoughtlessly lead to destruction!

I have a saying: Education, not Legislation!

Our society professes an absolute “free to choose” attitude. We’re “liberated!” That’s true, and it’s a good thing, but limiting ourselves with a need for only half truths can also be dangerous! The First Commandment our God—our Creator—has blessed us with is freedom of choice, but the Second Commandment, following very close on the heels of the First Commandment, states that we are responsible for our choices and no number of bailouts is going to prevent this! In other words, reaction to action—Karma—usually leads the unthinking person into a situation they hadn’t anticipated!

I have a saying that I love: “Education, not Legislation!”

In an article in the summer, 2018 edition of Apple, published by Alberta Health Services titled, “Clarity on Cannabis,” the magazine states, “Canadians use cannabis at some of the highest rates in the world. In 2015, one in five youths and nearly one-third of young adults said they used cannabis within the last year.”

Furthermore, in my view, to add insult to injury, financial investors are making huge profits on investing in companies that sell this stuff to the public. Money Morning, an investors email magazine, states: “Last year in 2017 the North American market for legal weed was just under $9 billion.” That’s a lot of money that could have been spent by the public on more healthy form of recreation!

And we all know that the financial market, as long as they’re getting good returns on their investments, aren’t going to concern themselves much about whether marihuana is safe to use or not! This is no different than our multi-billion dollar drug corporations concern about making us healthy by selling us their way-overpriced drugs; there’s just too much money involved for that to ever happen, and too many politicians in the pockets of these drug companies to ever hope for wisdom in legislative change—unless, by some freak of circumstance, the public unites and demands change!

Yes, there are some medical benefits to the use of prescription marihuana, like end-of life care; severe pain or persistent muscle spasms and spinal cord disease, where marijuana has been proven to be of benefit in lieu of equally(?) as harmful drugs. However, this doesn’t excuse the uncontrolled use of recreational marijuana.

Science Museum, London, explains it this way: “When part of your body is injured, special nerve endings send pain messages back to your brain. Painkilling drugs [like marihuana] interfere with these messages, either at the site of the injury, in the spinal cord or in the brain itself.” It’s the effect that this drug has on the brain that is of great concern to me. There is overwhelming data out there to prove that indiscriminate use of marihuana can make us into a nation of zombies, and there will be those who will recklessly venture that far! Are horror movies about our streets filled with zombies a portend of our future?

I’d like to close this ‘conversation’ on a positive note. in our Homo Sapiens’ 6,000 years on this earth, we’ve weathered equally as great, if not greater, disasters than the marihuana threat. During those brief 6,000 years we’ve been nearly wiped out as a species several times. So, instead of fear, let’s concentrate on the millions of us who are sensible enough to find our recreational needs through safer alternatives, so that Homo Sapiens can, again, live to tell our grandchildren about the stupid things some of us did when we were their age!

It’s just so unfortunate and sad that in this recreational marihuana craze we’re going to lose so many close friends, and even relatives, simply because many believed in liberated ‘half-truths,’ and not valued their lives more than they did!

“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.”  —Ronald Reagan

Me and Mortimer, Chapter Eight: “The Superior Craft of Whittling”

While I was havin’ my coffee this mornin’ before tacklin’ that stack of files the office clerk loaded on my desk last night, I was watching Mortimer use his prized wood chisels to carve the company logo into a oval slice of pine wood that the company had cut special for this project from a old pine tree that grew on the north side of the main company building. The company is buildin’ a new employee cafeteria on the spot where that pine tree was growin’, and the tree was in the way so it had to be cut down.

Mort’s been so busy carving on that piece of wood he ain’t even interested in talkin’ to me, even after I prodded him with questions about his so-called special love of wood carving, so I’ll just talk to you about things in general today.

The engineer wanted to cut down the tree and haul it to the dump, but a lot of the employees got together and asked the company to save a slab of the tree—sort of in memory of that tree many of the employees had had their open air lunch under in years past—and make it into a plaque and hang it on the wall in the new cafeteria. The boss thought it was a good, nostalgic idea.

Nostalgic nonsense from a bunch of employees who ain’t workin’ hard enough, if you ask me! A tree is a tree, and there’s a whole bunch more growin’ in the forest just west of town, if you ever want one—or a hundred, even, if you need more.

Anyway, gettin’ back to my story. The company is payin’ Mortimer extra to carve their logo into that piece of wood, and Mort’s sure taking his time in carving it! Every little detail has to be just so! Sez it’s pride in workmanship: doin’ a job right, he sez, but I think he’s just wastin’ a lot of time and company money. Sheesh! If that were me, it wouldn’t take more than a afternoon to finish that thing, and think of all the extra money I could pocket!

I always say, the guy that can make a dime without overworkin’ hisself is smarter than the guy working overtime for the same dime just to please the boss. But, I guess, each of us has his own values, and not all values are as superior as mine!

Mort really takes special pride in them wood chisels of his. Tells me that they was quite expensive when he bought them some years back when he took a design and wood carvin’ course at our local tech. I read stories where more modern wood carvers are now using electronic chisels instead of the old-fashioned hand chisels, but I guess ol’ Mort hasn’t modernized his ways yet.  Sez he feels that the real craft of wood carvin’ lies in using hand tools. Gives a fella a special pride and feel for the wood and the finished product that electronic chisels just can’t give you.

Mortimer thinks he knows a lot about design and wood carving, ‘specially since he took that course at Tech, but I tried to show him he really don’t know nothing about the real craft of wood carving, like I learned as a kid, and what we then used to call, whittling.

When I was a kid, in my home town where I grew up, a kid was considered just a baby until his dad figured he was growed up enough to own his own pocket knife. Then he’d be considered old enough to be part of the gang of the older kids.

I remember, on my sixth birthday, my dad presented me with my first pocket knife.

“Son,” he said, “I think your old enough where you can safely handle your own pocket knife!” I was real proud of my dad for figerin’ that I was a big kid now! I loved my dad, and I think he had more brains than Einstein’s pussy-cat!

My first knife was a Swiss Pocket Knife and had a black handle and had two blades, a small and a big blade. Never did figure out what the small blade was good for, so I just used the big blade for whittlin’ and carving things.

Now that I was part of the Big Kids Gang, we’d spend a lot of our time in the willow bushes by the town gravel pit. By using a trick only us Big Kids knew, we could whittle real-workin’ whistles out of a piece of willow bark. I remember, we’d blow and blow on them whistles, thinkin’ it was lots of fun, and that’s how we spent a lot of our summer afternoons.

One problem we Big Kids had with pocket knives was that most of us would end up cutting our thumbs with the knife until we learned to respect and use them properly. ‘Cause I was smarter than most of the other Big Kids, I only cut my thumb twice before I learned to use it properly, but Reggie Allred was just the opposite. Reggie was bigger than me, had curly black hair, and was the goofball of our group. He cut his thumb more times than a duck said “Quack!” after laying its batch of eggs in the marsh.

Reggie and I became best friends. I remember once, Reggie convinced me to join him in sneakin’ under widow Anne’s window in the afternoon while she was trying to sleep—she slept a lot in the afternoons—and we’d try to drive her crazy with our constant whistlin’. She took it for a while, and we were almost ready to give up on our prank, thinkin’ it wasn’t working, when she complained to my dad, so my dad took away my pocket knife for a week and made me promise never to bother widow Anne again.

Anyway, all this reminiscin’ is meant to show you what real whittling—or wood carving really is. Kids now-a-days, with their iPads, just don’t know what real fun and craftsmanship is about!

Anyway, it’s getting’ near lunch time and I still have to do all that filing. Normally, I’d just leave the filing and do it all on Friday afternoon, but my wife made Mort promise to snitch on me and tell her if I ever slacked off again, ‘cause if I did, that meant no supper and no TV when I got home from work, so I’ll stop talkin’ for a bit and do the filing, then I’ll talk to you again after lunch.

——————————

Well, ol’ Mort never even took all of his lunch time that he’s entitled to, he’s so involved in carving that company logo. I think that’s treasonous on his part—I mean, not takin’ all of his lunch time. If he keeps doing that, pretty soon the company will expect the same from the rest of us, and I ain’t about to sacrifice my free time! No, sir! We got union laws in this company, and I aims to respect them!

Oh—before I go home early this afternoon—goin’ home early ‘cause I finished my filing, so no use staying around here, I gotta tell you something. In case you hadn’t already hear about it, Mortimer’s getting married this Saturday! That’s right. He’s finally found someone that’ll tolerate his company brownnosing attitude and marry him! Me and the wife got an invite to his wedding. I wanted to go fishing this Saturday, but one look from my wife—she shoulda been a Sergeant Major, I tell you; I pity the guy who’d ever say “no” to her!

My wife bought them a expensive Wedgewood bone china breakfast set as a wedding present. When I heard what she spent on that breakfast set, I was gonna mention to her that I coulda, instead, bought that expensive fishing tackle box with all the fish hooks I’d ever need in it, that I always wanted, but I hadn’t finished my supper yet, so decided to say nothing!

I haven’t met his future wife yet, but I hope she’s gonna be good and firm with Mort, ‘cause that guy can sure use some smartening up, if you ask me! I gave you an example earlier, where Mortimer didn’t even believe me when I explained to him that whittling was a superior art to wood carving, and that’s just a small sample about the way he thinks!

Oh well, not everyone can have the superior upbringing like I had. Some of us, like ol’ Mort, for example, just gotta learn the hard way that you gotta grab what’s yours, and not wait for someone to hand it to you—like Mort not taking his full lunch hour at noon today. That’s breaking union rules, and it can get me so mad!

Sheesh!

I turns to Mort, who’s got his back to me, and sez, “Good night, Mort. I’m goin’ home now. Don’t forget to lock the shed when you leave!” I figured I’d best tell him that I was leaving, in case he turns around and finds I’m not here anymore.

 

A Sunday Chat with Myself: Are we an Advanced Society?

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” —Søren Kierkesgaard

This morning I sat myself comfortably into my office chair, leaned back, took a deep breath, held it for a moment, then slowly exhaled.

I was totally Relaxed and free of all the ‘happenings’ of the past week.

Sunday morning—it was that time of week for me to escape from the world and think metaphysically: to reflect on how the past week had impacted my life. For me, gratitude is the first thought that comes to mind, like being forever grateful for my overall health, income security, a nice, comfortable home, specialized, well-trained police that shield me reasonably well from predators … even our weather has been quite normal, compared to some of the storms, floods, forest fires and heat waves that are plaguing the rest of the country. It is such a joy to feel how lucky a person I am!

Our advanced society has given me many comforts, safety and protection that other nations, especially less developed ones, don’t enjoy. For example, the desperate “boat people” we hear about who sell everything they have and give it to a risky and mostly dubious “helper,” then, shoves them onto overcrowded boats where they must gamble their very lives to come to my country where they hope for a better life: a way of life I take for granted almost daily.

However, as I continued in my “grateful reverie,” my Super Self started challenging my good feelings. Sure, I had a lot of things in my life that brought me pleasure and comfort—I lack from nothing, physically—but how am I doing in my spiritual evolution? After all, I did come from somewhere other than this earthly, physical world—and for a reason, and I’m sure it wasn’t to just see how much worldly stuff I could collect!

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens

According to Zecharia Sitchin’s view (he’s renowned for his translations of early Sumerian writings into English), the Adamic race had its origin “quite suddenly”—over a period of just a few thousand years, evolutionarily-speaking—in this fertile region some 6,000 years ago. That 6,000 years, has given us enough time to evolve physically to a modest degree, but what about our spiritual evolution? Sure, as I said earlier, we have a lot of nice, modern things in our lives—homes, TV, wireless communications, good health plans, etc.— but in some other ways, spiritually, we’re still as barbaric as we were in our beginning! Envy, hate, greed, lust, cheating, lying—I still can’t leave my home without locking my doors due to the risk of home invasion: do you see change?

On the other hand, I subscribe to several charitable and meditation groups and we do a tremendous amount of good in helping to raise the level of human consciousness. My Church, alone, sponsors several charities to help individuals improve their lives, like food and clothing banks, disaster relief, educational foundations and research funding.

The bottom line is, we are moving forward, both in physical technologies, and in spiritual growth and compassion. It’s simply a matter of what side of the fence we focus our thoughts on as we analyse the world. Personally, I’ll take the cheerful, compassionate, grateful side, and leave the negative, fearful stuff up to the subscribers of the evening news media!

“When the light is imminent, the darkness gets agitated.” —Dr. Barbara De Angelis, Gaia TV

Me and Mortimer

Sometimes life just ain’t fair! Take this mornin’ for example. My wife and kids got up early, even before the neighborhood sparrows had started their infernal, irritatin’ chatter, so that she and the kids could get a early start on their trip to Vancouver Island. The kids, especially, was up even before my wife got outa bed, yellin’ and screemin’ and runnin’ around all excited and makin’ enough noise to wake a grave digger’s catch of the day!

Of course, the family decided—without my input, as usual—to use the family car for their holiday, which meant I would have to catch the bus to work all this week.

Before she closed the door behind her on the way out, my wife made sure I was awake so I wouldn’t sleep in and be late for work. Sheesh! As if anyone could sleep through the racket those kids was makin’!

I glanced at the alarm clock. Seven o’clock? I ain’t gettin’ up this early, so I rolled over to catch a few extra zees before I’d hafta face the day for real. Besides, it only takes me fifteen minutes to drive to work, so, why get up this early?

Like I said, sometimes life puts you behind the eight ball, no matter what you do. Those extra zees I decided to take turned into an hour-long nap, and I still had to make some breakfast before heading out to work! And, I’d completely forgotten that I’d have to take the bus all this week, which means it takes longer to get to work than by car.

Of course, bein’ late, I missed the bus I shoulda took, so I had to wait for the next one, which made me half hour late to get to work! Sometimes, I swear, if I didn’t have any bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all!

Fortunately for me, when I finally did get to work, Mortimer was already out mowin’ the grass around the company parking lot, so he never noticed me sneak in late and wouldn’t be able to snitch the fact that I was late again to my wife—or, so at least, I thought.

Meanwhile, back to the present.

That Mortimer!  Sometimes I have to shake my head when I see how he forgets his priorities. He forgot to make coffee again, leaving that responsibility up to me. How many times must I tell him, first guy into the office in the morning, makes the coffee!

So, naturally, the first thing I had to do was make a fresh pot of coffee. While I was waitin’ for the water to boil, I opened the mornin’ paper and read the headline: “Senator Drymann refuses to support Parliament’s bill to buy ten new fighter jets for our armed forces.”

For you folks out there who don’t know, Drymann’s the guy our Prime Minister recently appointed to The Upper Chamber and he’s been makin’ a real name for hisself among the flower power radicals by refusin’ to support any kind of bill the government tries to introduce that will increase defense spending.

Sheesh! You’d think those young tree-huggen’, pot smokin’  radicals had better things to do than spend their time parading in front of the parliament buildings, acting like they knew better than us old folks do about what’s best for the country.

That news headline got me so mad at ol’ Drymann I was ready to sit down and write to him and tell him he was wrong for not supporting our troops … but I see the water in the coffee pot’s boilin’ so, instead, I had to close the paper and go make the coffee. At the same time I was makin’ the coffee, Mortimer comes into our office, grass stains all over his knees where he’s been kneeling, and oil all over his hands.

“You have to come and help me with the lawn mower,” he sez to me, completely ignorin’ the fact that I was already busy with my own priority—makin’ the coffee—and didn’t have time to help him with his stupid lawn mower. “The blade broke and I need someone to help me tilt the mower and hold it so I can unscrew the broken blade and install a new one.”

I was about to give Mortimer a piece of my mind for interrupting my important coffee-making chore and to go find someone that was doing nothin’ that could help him with his lawn mower … but then I thought, maybe this could be a good time to discuss Drymann’s stupid decision with him and see what he thinks, so I turned off the boiling water and went out to the parking lot with him instead.

“Here—I’ll lift up the mower on this end, and I want you to hold it in that position while I take off the blade.” Mortimer lifts up the side of the mower and waits for me to grab hold.

“Why don’tcha just get a piece of two-by-four and prop up the mower? Then you wouldn’t need my help.”

“Just hold it steady—like this!” He snaps at me.

Sheesh! I thought it was a good idea. Anyway, I dismiss ol’ Mort’s snarky comment, thinkin’ he’s probably having a bad morning, with his lawn mower being broken and all that, so I asks him, “What ya think of Drymann’s decision not to support our troops?”

Mortimer stops unscrewing the bolts on the lawn mower blade and looks up at me, sort of funny like, like as if I hadn’t made myself clear.

“You know,” I sez, making it more simple so even Mort could understand, “voting against the bill for our government to buy those ten new jets.”

“I think Senator Drymann made a very responsible decision in voting against that purchase,” Mort turns back to unscrewing the bolts and removes the broken blade. “I’d like to see our country become more interested in promoting peace, rather than fighting wars we don’t need to get involved in.”

Huh!” Mort’s remark shocked me to the core. I hadn’t expected that kinda unpatriotic talk from him! “You mean, we shouldn’t defend our country and not give our troops the best fightin’ machines we can?” I didn’t think Mort was that kind of guy, not supporting our government in fighting terrorism.

“Defending our country can often be better accomplished through peaceful talks, rather than preparing for war.”

“Well, I say, the best way to have peace is to prepare for war!” I snapped back at Mortimer in a finality that prevented any chance for him to disagree with my superior views. He now had finished attaching the new blade, so I was able to let go of my end of the lawn mower. Good thing, ‘cause my arms was getting’ pretty tired holding up that stupid, stinky thing.

Mortimer just shrugged off my superior argument, and, instead, began priming the engine on the lawn mower. “That’s why it’s such a privilege to live in a democratic country like ours where each of us can express our opinion, and not be silenced by dictatorial rule.” The mower started real easy so Mort wasted no time in leaving me stand there while he finished cutting the lawn.

“Yeah? Well, I think ol’ Drymann’s just a sleezy politician not caring about whether our country’s defended or not!” I shouted after Mortimer, but I don’t think he heard me over the racket that noise machine of his was making.

Having to walk all the way back to my office in the tool shed from the parking lot really left me tired. I looked at the stack of files on my desk that needed putting away, and that made me feel even more tired. At that point, I really wanted to quit—but I knew my wife would get really angry at me if I did, so I started filing …

… “Coffee!” I shouted aloud. With havin’ to help Mortimer, and him getting me angry about how Drymann was letting down our troops, made me completely forget that I hadn’t had my coffee this morning. I walked over to the table and turned on the coffee pot, then sat down and again open the morning paper, ignorin’ the headlines about Drymann.

I needed a rest!

A Sunday Chat with Myself—More on Gratitude

“Gratitude  is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” — Cicero

At my age I need a little more rest than a younger man might need, so I frequently retire during the day for a short nap. We have a large long-haired grey cat who, as soon as he sees me heading towards the bedroom, follows and snuggles up against my chest. I comment to other family members that we (the cat and I) are enjoying some “quality time” together: he is enjoying my company, and I am enjoying his company.

I have no problem believing that I can have ‘quality time’ with a cat because I believe that there is only life—consciousness—in the universe. The cat, in consciousness, is equal to my consciousness. Conscious awareness is like living in an infinite cosmic ocean of self-awareness that I—and my cat—are all part of. I look at it this way: take a cup of water out of the ocean. That cup of water, although briefly separated from the ocean, is still “ocean.” So, there is no difference between my consciousness and the cat’s consciousness. We’re all … uh, consciousness!

… But yet, there is something different between me and my cat. Although we share similarities – consciousness – we have different destinies: different callings. For the cat, as long as it is fed and watered, and receives its share of love and comfort in my home, it is quite content to live out its days with me as being … well, just a cat!

On the other hand, I need more in my life. I need physical and intellectual challenges. I need more than the simple ‘animalistic’ need to love and to be loved. I need recognition of being of some importance in life! So, what is it in me that makes me crave love, affection, learning, etc., while my cat is quite content to live a simple life? And, more importantly, how do I go about fulfilling these cravings that I have?

Through self awareness, I realize that if I do something nice for a person I get a really good feeling for my effort. That seems to be my reward: if I do something nice to a person, I am rewarded by feeling good, so there is truth to the Biblical saying, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If I do something that makes another person feel good, I feel good in return.

On the flip side, if I do something mean to another person, the result can leave me with some uncomfortable, guilty feelings; or, if another person does something mean to me, I can feel hurt and angry. Furthermore, I have a choice in how I wish to treat the world, or choose how I wish to react to how the world treats me.

And that’s what makes me—my self—different from that of my cat: I have a broader range of choice of how I choose to react to the world around me.

Desire, “the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state,” also comes into play here. As far as I know, my cat has basic animal survival instincts that can only be related to desire—it needs shelter, food and an assurance of safety, but I can, through my more evolved attributes of desires, actually manipulate what I wish to accomplish, or not accomplish through my desires. In other words, I feel that I can accomplish, through my extra God-given gifts of choice and desire, much more in life than my cat can.

I have so much more to be grateful for than my cat has!

Or do I?

On second thought, maybe it’s my cat, not me, that has been given a God-given gift of simplicity that I don’t yet understand, and through that simplicity, has gained more reason to be thankful than I do through my complexities in life. So, when the cat and I snuggle up on our bed to enjoy our “quality time,” I feel that both of us are silently, each in our individual way, giving prayerful thanks and appreciation for all that our Creator has blessed us with.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”  — Epicurus