Think Before You Fire

One might think that there is basically nothing that a marijuana bud and a firearm have in common. I would beg to differ. Yes, one may be a plant that is grown while the other sprouts from a factory and no; they do not look anything like each other.   Sure, one was used by people marching for peace and the other by those marching to war.  There is, however, an important way they are similar.  Both have a mystique in our culture (on a side note, another similarity is that both are “fired”).

By “mystique” I am referring to the extreme passion and emotion that marijuana and firearms can evoke.  People who love them tend to have a visceral reaction to the thought of having them taken away.   They not only refuse to consider any problems they cause, but can be aggressive in defending them.  Those that are fully and adamantly against firearms and marijuana tend to have the same emotional reaction to the issues, but from the opposite side.   It is almost as if these things exude not only a polarizing power but the power to close one’s mind.

Firearms and marijuana can have benefits.  Firearms can provide a sense of security and reassurance.  They can be used to provide food and for fun and sport such as skeet shooting.   Marijuana has been shown to have medicinal benefits for patients suffering from certain illnesses.  Some would additionally argue that the use of marijuana creates different perspectives in thought and art.

There is, however, evidence that these things can be extremely harmful.  Research demonstrates that marijuana use, especially daily, can lead to problems such as lack of productivity, indulgence in other drugs, psychosis, short term memory impairment, loss of motivation, anxiety, depression, legal problems, and certain types of cancer.  It can be an expensive and time-consuming habit.  It can therefore disrupt one’s life.

As far as damage from firearms is concerned, over the last year in the United States, we have endured gun violence once reserved for our worst nightmares. The frequency of mass shootings has increased horrifically.  We cannot simply blame firearms.   However, we must ask why, in a country where firearms are so easily accessible, there are significantly more random shootings than in any other country in the world.

No question that indulging in a passion can be a beneficial thing.  It can lead to happiness and resilience.  There can be a darker side to the pursuit of a passion as well.  People may become so enamored with their interests that they develop tunnel vision; trapped in a closed mind. They see their way of doing things as the only way and fail to appreciate alternatives. This mindset is harmful. The body and mind function healthiest when there is a balance; when moderation and thoughtfulness are practiced.   The closed mind limits the benefit of dialogue and education.  It perpetuates fear and hate.  It invites anger and resentment.  All of these emotions tend to create negativity and inhibit the ability to think clearly.

I am not writing this article as a pitch for or against gun control or for or against legalization of marijuana. I am writing to encourage people to approach any polarizing issue that doesn’t have concrete right or wrong answers with an open mind. I urge that people research all sides of an issue and engage in dialogue and conversation about it, not arguments.   Nobody wins arguments and nobody is listening during an argument.

Polarizing issues like gun control and legalization of marijuana will always exist.  Polarizing things like guns and marijuana will always be available.  There will never be a universal agreement about how to eliminate or regulate these things.  Even if these things were eliminated, people have other ways to get high and other ways to kill.  Our time and energy would best be spent accepting these facts and working towards a solution in how to use them in the most prudent and safe way possible.

2 thoughts on “Think Before You Fire

  1. Sara Conway says:

    Dr. Sarche,
    I found this article quite interesting; while I never paired the two controversiesin my mind, your well thought out comparisons led me to realize their commonality. I believe you are correct in saying “The body and mind function healthiest when there is a balance; when moderation and thoughtfulness are practiced.” I hope the leaders of this great nation take note as well!

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