Pubdate: Sat, 13 Nov 2010
Source: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, CA)
Column: It's A Gray Area
Copyright: 2010 Daily Pilot
Author: James P. Gray


After the recent election was over, one of my friends confided to me
that in the final analysis that he was unable to vote in favor of
Proposition 19, which would have treated marijuana like alcohol for
adults. The reason was that marijuana is harmful, especially to
children, and if the initiative passed it would be yet one more
compromise and retreat away from our value system.

I really understand his concerns.

Almost everywhere we look today, we seem to be losing ground in what
is healthy about our way of life. The examples are familiar to us all,
such as the managers of the city of Bell and other cities ostensibly
manipulating the finances so as to pay themselves unconscionable
salaries and benefits, professional baseball players taking steroids,
young people valuing their membership in juvenile gangs more than
obtaining an education, and many more. So now we "legalize" marijuana,
thus allowing additional moral backsliding and decay? For many people,
this was simply too much, and they registered their protest at the

My response is that we should follow the advice of Confucius, who
said, "The first rule in being a wise leader is that you must first
define the problem."

So in that regard, we must remember that marijuana itself is not the
problem, nor is it city finances, steroids, or even gangs. Those are
just the symptoms. The problems - and the resolutions - are presented
by the way we deal with these matters, and promoting viable
alternatives to those harmful choices.

That is where values come into play. We must change the direction of
the political landscape to favor programs that work, regardless of
what today's so-called political wisdom would have us believe.

So what works? Basically four things: education, treatment and
prevention, positive financial incentives, and individual

So how can each of us help to change the direction of our country? The
first part of the question is answered by the old saying that "the
world is run by those who show up." And the remainder of the question
is answered by saying that all we have to do is again become
Americans! Rekindle the "can do" spirit at every level of our society
by rewarding success, stigmatizing laziness and "entitlements," be
open and available for scrutiny in almost every public thing we do,
and focus upon things that work. 
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