NANCY REAGAN: PROPHET OR CONSERVATIVE CHATELAINE TO BE POOH-POOHED?
As an ardent Liberal, I remember back in the 1980s when Nancy Reagan first supported the seemingly simplistic anti-drug doctrine of ‘Just say NO’. Liberals everywhere pooh-poohed her as a neo-conservative white Christian chatelaine who was stuck in her ‘Leave it to Beaver’, and ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ world of 1950s Hollywood black and white la la land.
Upon closer examination of her exhortation, and as the tentacles of the Hell’s Angels drug empire spread ever further into the fabric of our post-modern society, her idea isn’t all that silly.
After all, our society constantly reminds us of the supremacy of market forces, and how the ‘Free Market’ must prevail in virtually all spheres of society. But upon what principles is the free market based?
Every day, free-willed individuals make free-willed choices concerning their behaviour: What to wear, where to go, what to eat or drink, how to behave, etc… They also have the free choice to consume or not consume illicit narcotics. I was taught in the 12 step program that if you don’t nourish the weeds in the garden, they won’t grow. You can choose to pull them out by the roots and water and fertilize your plants, flowers and shrubs so as to have a beautiful garden, whether it is literally, or figuratively.
Therefore, if more people made the choice not to consume illicit narcotics, there wouldn’t be such a big supply of them. The supply is there because the demand is there.
There’s something to be said for living a pure and upstanding life. The lawyer in the Bible who asked our Lord which was the greatest of the commandments was told, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,… (and) you shall love your neighbour as yourself’. Loving yourself means respecting your body, and what you put into it. The Bible also says that your body is a Temple, created by God. One wouldn’t want to desecrate a holy place such as a temple now would we?
In the song ‘Crazy Mama’ by the Rolling Stones, off of the ‘Black and Blue’ album, Mick Jagger sings that ‘Your old time religion is just superstition’. Maybe, just maybe, if more young people and not so young people lived by the principles laid out in the Biblical passages listed above, as opposed to what Mick and Keith and the boys have to say, there wouldn’t be such a problem with drug addiction, gambling, alcohol, prostitution, pornography, etc…
The government of Canada’s anti-drug policy from the early 1990s listed illicit drugs as ‘psychotropic substances’. They went on to say that this term related to an etymology which came from botany, which describes how plants have a natural tendency to ‘turn’ towards the sun, so as to capture the positive energy from its light. So ‘psychotropic’ refers to how these substances ‘turn’ the psyche, or mind. However, unlike plants, our minds are not always turned towards the light of knowledge and truth. On the contrary, these substances often turn our psyche towards the darkness of perversion, self-seeking and self-centred hedonistic pleasure-seeking and dissolute behaviour.
As Ronnie-James Dio said in his song ‘Don’t talk to strangers’, off of the ‘Holy Diver’ album, the narrator of the song takes on the persona of Satan, and describes himself, saying: ‘I’m danger, I’m the stranger. I, I’m darkness, I’m anger, I’m pain, I, forever, the evil song you sing inside your brain, drives you insane…’
All of these forces are unleashed as soon as you begin the process of consumption of narcotics. It’s like the proverbial Pandora’s box of creatures who lurch out at you as soon as you open up the cover. Or, as in the ancient legend, the man was given two doors to open: Would it be the Lady, or the Tiger? You just never know when you get on that Night Train, never to return, as Axl Rose put it from the song of the same name.
So, getting back to Nancy Reagan, we can ‘Just say NO’. As Steely Dan put it, in their song ‘Any Major Dude’, off of the ‘Pretzel Logic’ album, ‘When the demon is at your door, in the morning it won’t be there no more, any major dude will tell you…’ In this case, we can simply choose to not answer the door when we know that there’s a fire-breathing dragon waiting to blast us on the other side.
As my dearly-departed Mother was always fond of saying, it’s always good to ‘err on the side of caution’, or to ‘better be safe than sorry’. I’m glad I finally smartened up and listened to what my elders always told me when I was growing up, such as ‘A stitch in time saves nine’, or ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.
At age 45, being through what I have, if my advice can help even just one potentially errant lamb from being separated from the fold, then I will have done my Christian duty. And Nancy Reagan will have done her’s!!!!