Charlie's Blog: In Through the Out Door


In Through the Out Door

People who don't take care of their drums really annoy me.

I have always thought In Through the Out Door was the coolest title for an album that I have ever heard. Of course, it wasn't the best album Zep ever made due to the fact that Bonham was drunk, and Page was strung out on heroin. This left Jones and Plant to make the album with the two others showing up to do their parts. It is Led Zeppelin's last album together as a band. Bonham would die the following year from an excess of drink. I cite the quotation above as an irony. The man could take care of his drums, but he couldn't take care of himself.

I have had my share of dealing with drunks and drug addicts. My only advice to people is that if you are dealing with someone like this then you need to put them out of your life. I don't believe in enabling or interventions or any of that crap. One of two things will happen with these people. They will either come to their senses and get clean and sober. Or, they will drink and drug themselves into an early grave. You can't save these people.

This seems like a cold and heartless attitude to take, but it comes from experience. Alcoholism and drug abuse cover over a much deeper spiritual emptiness. People are miserable, so drugs and alcohol give relief from that misery. That spiritual state is what separates the recreational user from the hardcore addict. Drunks and addicts don't always find a way out through religion. Some just realize that drugs and drink just don't do the trick, and they stop with the substance abuse. Others aren't so lucky.

To untie these people and set them adrift on the sea of their own misery takes a certain level of faith and common sense. The people that find this hardest are the parents of teenagers. You have to try and get them help while they are minors, but you must cut them loose and put them out once they hit 18. Any parent who disobeys this dictum will only prolong the agony for themselves and for their children. Parents blame themselves for the failures of their children, but they shouldn't. I know of families that have produced clergy and convicts from the same parents. It only goes to show that people have free will, and they don't always make the right choices with that free will. I have yet to meet the parent who encouraged their children in a life of crime, vice, and deceit. Even Don Corleone wanted his son, Michael, to go straight in The Godfather.

This brings us to the War on Drugs. As a libertarian, I was against it. As a born again conservative, I am still against it. The only difference between then and now is that I favor decriminalization instead of legalization. What's the difference? I will explain.

The current War on Drugs is based on the same flawed logic of Prohibition which is that evil resides in a substance. If you eliminate the supply of the substance, you will have eliminated the evil. The result of this flawed logic are thousands incarcerated, drug cartels threatening everyone, and virtually no dint in the problem. I have personally heard stories of people who operate within the GOP who campaign hard for drug warriors and drug war policy and then go home to smoke dope and snort coke. One of the most famous cases involves Thomas Ravenel who was a Republican busted for cocaine. Today, Ravenel advocates for legalization.

Legalization of drugs is the libertarian approach, but it is flawed as well. This is because it stops focusing on the supply side of the problem but does nothing on the demand side except to encourage it. Libertarians are fond of arguing for marijuana legalization because weed is relatively benign compared to other substances including alcohol. Yet, their arguments sound ridiculous when it comes to heroin and crystal meth.

Decriminalization takes the approach that you focus on the demand side of the problem. Basically, people need to seek help and treatment. Prison is not treatment as we see that we can't even keep drugs out of our jails. Decriminalization keeps the stigma but lessens the penalties. Fines, confiscation, and mandatory treatment do a better job. This is what Portugal did, and the results have been fabulous with a decline in drug usage, incarceration, and violent crime. Basically, decriminalization focuses on the source of the problem which is the drug user. Once demand is lessened and eliminated, supply doesn't matter.

We already take a similar approach with alcohol abuse. Most law enforcement agencies target public drunkenness and drunk driving. DUI/DWI convictions can be a nightmare for offenders. But if you applied the drug war mentality to the present problems, you would go after bars and taverns and liquor stores while people were driving drunk and killing people left and right. Those places would be out of business to be replaced by an Al Capone. But with the libertarian approach, people could drive drunk until they crashed their cars into other cars. They would make the argument that auto insurers would police the problem except they also want to make it legal to drive without insurance. Neither side seems like common sense to me. The present policy is the correct one. Drive drunk and lose your license and your ride. Pay fines and go to treatment.

I find most policy prescriptions go to the extremes. Either you have libertarians who take freedom to the extreme or you get tough talking fascists that want to take it to the other extreme. I find the best policies prevent the bad while leaving freedom for the good. For instance, I can go with a wall on our southern border, but I also think it should be easier for Mexicans to come here legally and become citizens. People can't tolerate this mean between extremes, so they want all or nothing. This is just dumb.

Today is Good Friday. I have been reflecting upon my life, and I feel ashamed that I am not more vigilant in my prayers. If there is a secret to happiness in this life, it is this. Always maintain your life of prayer. Don't ever neglect it. Pray the Rosary daily. Do the Morning Offering. Pray the Angelus. Perform the Act of Contrition each night before bed. I find that when I adhere to my Plan of Life that my stresses and anxieties lessen. I feel strengthened and refreshed. I suspect the reason the Lord allows us to get stressed out is to drive us to our knees and pray.

The story of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane comes to mind. Jesus asks his disciples to pray one hour with Him, and they couldn't manage it. Jesus rebukes them and exhorts them to pray because they are going to be tested in this time of trial. Then, our Lord prays earnestly and intently. He is facing His ultimate trial. Yet, in this time of prayer, He finds strength. Tradition has it that an angel came and comforted our Lord in this time. If the Son of God needed to pray, we definitely need to pray.

This Lent has made resolve to pray as I should. Prayer matters. Prayer works. I have also made other resolutions to be more serious about my life, my projects, my work, and my apostolate. I feel like I am merely playing at becoming a saint instead of pursuing it with serious intention. There is really only one true and valuable ambition in life, and that is sainthood.