Pubdate: Sat, 29 Aug 2009
Source: Red Bluff Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Red Bluff Daily News
Author: Joe Harrop
Note: Joe Harrop is a retired educator with more than 30 years of 
service to the North State.
Bookmark: (Marijuana - California)


Franz Kafka is buried in Prague. So I decided to bring a collection of
some of his works with me to reread while we were in Prague. As it
turned out his grave was about a ten-minute walk from our hotel in the
new Jewish cemetery where people were buried only one deep as opposed
to at least ten deep in the old cemetery.

Kafka's spare, stark prose and surreal stories are both fascinating
and profound, and many students have been startled by their directness.

Many of us remember Gregor Samsa, who "awoke from unsettling dreams
one morning, he found himself transformed into a monstrous vermin,"
which most of us assumed was a cockroach. Kafka's story about Samsa,
"The Metamorphosis", has been required reading for many generations.
When Samsa awoke from his unsettling dreams he found himself living in
a nightmare, trapped in a new body within his own room, unable to
communicate with his family who had depended upon him, and who now did
not know how to meet his needs. Samsa finds himself listening through
the closed door of his room to learn what is going on and what his
family may be thinking. He suffers for a few months and dies.

I'm beginning to believe that reading Kafka in Red Bluff might have
been even more appropriate, given the condition of our state and
current events. Just last week I read several news items that made it
seem like we are part of someone's bad dream. For example, in Siskiyou
County more than a quarter million marijuana plants were Advertisement
Quantcast seized in a couple of days, and the statewide seizure of
plants is more than twice the number seized last year at this point.
There are reports of thefts from pot gardens in Tehama County where
there are avid discussions about how to regulate medical pot gardens.
On the page after the Siskiyou seizures was an ad for a doctor, who,
apparently for a fee of course, could certify someone as entitled to
use pot legally. The ad highlighted that marijuana was not just for
illnesses, but also for wellness, putting pot is the same category as
the "just pop a pill to feel better" approach to life or meditation.

On the next page of this particular paper was an article about pending
legislation that would permit Internet casinos in California, a
potentially significant source of tax revenue for our bankrupt state.
Others have suggested decriminalization of marijuana as another
potential source of new taxes.

This rational reminds me of a famous anecdote about George Bernard
Shaw. Shaw was attending a rather stuffy dinner and was becoming
bored. He wanted to liven things up a bit, so he turned to the
patriarchic lady on his left and asked, "would you go to bed with me
tonight for one million pounds?"

After recovering from the shock of the proposal, the lady replied "A
million pounds, why yes."

He followed his initial proposition up with, "How about for one
pound?" The indignant woman responded, "Of course not, what do you
think I am?"

Shaw trumped her indignation with, "Madame, we have already determined
what you are, now we are trying to find out your price."

It is easy for us to feel indignant about the state of our state and
demand that someone do something about it. According to some, our
cowardly representatives in Sacramento only have control of about
seven percent of the budget; they are operating with their hands tied
behind their backs. They are helpless as well as hapless. Whether this
is true or not, we keep expecting them to solve our problems and keep
our service levels up with no increase in costs (aka taxes).

Getting back to KafkaIt would be a simplification to generalize that
we are all Gregor Samsa, stuck in a dream world and unable to escape.
At the end of the story, however, Samsa's sister begins to blossom and
his family is stronger. Kafka gives us another message in one of his
shorter stories, "An Old Leaf." The concluding paragraph reads:

"We all ask ourselves: What will happen? How long can we endure this
burden and torment? The imperial palace has attracted the nomads, but
it does not know how to drive them away again. The gates stay shut;
the sentries, who before always marched in and out with pomp, now hide
inside behind barred windows. The salvation of our fatherland is left
to us craftsmen and tradespeople, but we are not equal to such a task,
nor indeed have we ever claimed to be capable of it. This is a
misunderstanding, and it is proving the ruin of us. [my emphasis]"

It is our responsibility to make our government functional. We cannot
sit by during this crisis, pointing fingers and proclaiming positions.
One organization that is attempting to do something is the Repair
California coalition. It wants to have a constitutional convention of
ordinary citizens to work on reforming our constitution.

People like you and I would be chosen at random to perform this task;
"craftsmen and tradespeople" who would not be politically beholden to
those who appointed them nor burdened by dreams of reelection. Since
it is highly unlikely our legislators will call for a convention,
Repair California will place some initiatives on the ballot in 2010 to
start their project. Whether this approach is realistic or not, it is
an affirmation that we can take charge of our future. And we must.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake