Sometimes, people tell me I should feel grateful to live in a country where we are free to worship God in any way we choose. These statements always burn me from the inside out, like acid in my veins.
People mistake their personal situation for the general situation. They think that, because they are free, the entire country is free. The truth is, if you are a white Christian of a recognized denomination, you ARE free to practice your religion in America. But if you choose a different faith, there’s a gun butt to your jaw and a dank, dirty jail cell waiting for you.
In Rastafari culture, there is a very important religious ceremony known as a ‘Reasoning’. A reasoning is a simple event where the Rastas gather; smoke ganja; and discuss ethical, social and religious issues. Many people do this in America as well, without even realizing it is a sacred religious ritual. Unfortunately, reasoning is illegal in America.
There exists in America a similar custom which is tolerated by the law. It’s called ‘Holy Communion’. A Holy Communion is a simple event where the Christians gather, drink alcohol, and discuss ethical, social, and religious issues. Sound familiar?
My question is: What is the difference between the Communion and the Reasoning? If your mind is free of prejudice, there is no difference. But the bigots that comprise the ‘powers that be’ will always try to ‘teach’ you by installing their prejudice in your mind.
They say that cannabis is an evil plant that has no spiritual value, but my life experience says otherwise. These old eyes have personally witnessed the mystical effects of cannabis on the hearts and minds of my fellow humanity. I have seen ganja impart empathy and conscience to those who previously had none. Cannabis has transformed simpletons and petty materialists into theologians with complex philosophical ideas. Ganja has awakened the spirit of individualism and free thinking in those who were previously hard-coded robots. It has broadened the perspectives of many, and turned those who partook into better people than they were before they tried it.
Do you ever wonder why hippies care about the environment? Its because they have been reminded of their responsibility to it through the smoking of the sacred herb. Some people don’t smoke cannabis, and instead prefer alcohol. These tend to be the ones who care nothing of the fate of humanity. They are cut off and numb to the world, and spiritually dead inside.
Not to bag on alcohol too much, we all need a drink now and then, but I’m tired of this commonly propagated lie that alcohol is harmless and cannabis has no value. They say that cannabis is a petty escape from reality. That may be true of alcohol, but not of the sacred herb. Cannabis is a mild psychedelic. It is not an escape from reality, and anyone who uses it with that intention will be sorely disappointed. Cannabis amplifies reality. And if you have any skeletons in your closet, cannabis will shove them right in your face. That is why the evil ones cannot partake in it.
There is a saying amongst potheads: “Man made beer, and God made pot. God is perfect, man is not.”
But whatever your opinions of cannabis and alcohol are, there is one argument you must consider: The first amendment to the Constitution says that the government cannot prohibit anyone from the free exercise of their religion. Considering the fact that many religions view cannabis as a sacrament (including certain sects of Christianity), shouldn’t this make anti-pot laws unconstitutional?
Why should some denominations of Christianity be able to get together on Sunday, drink alcohol, say that it is a sacrament that helps them commune with the Holy Spirit, and that’s fine with the law. But if a Gnostic or Rastafarian church wants to do the same thing with pot, its a crime? Is this not a clear cut case of religious discrimination, and a government that prohibits the free exercise of one religion while legally respecting another?
Sadly, the pro-cannabis religions are a tiny minority, and their rights are swept under the rug. The problem is, anyone who isn’t directly effected by prohibition could really give a rat’s ass about someone else’s rights. People who aren’t effected by an unjust law are not going to fight it on general principle. Johnny Wasp, as he sips his wine after church, doesn’t care at all that the government violates the civil liberties of Rastafarians by locking them up for pot. It doesn’t effect him.
And our Supreme Court, composed of Justices who are supposedly our wise and uncorruptable social and intellectual betters, doesn’t give a rat’s ass either. They are so Eurocentric that they cannot even comprehend why cannabis could be considered a religious sacrament. And they are further motivated by psychological evidence that suggests pot users are more sympathetic to certain political causes. Political causes that the Justice’s wealthy constituents view as a threat (ie- socialism). Once again, capitalism trumps religion in America.
We live in a country where selfishness is our only principal. With that weak of a foundation, of course minority rights will be trampled by the ensconced majority culture. If it were THEIR church being raided with SWAT teams and THEIR holy sacrament confiscated, there would be a countrywide revolution the next day. But they could give a fuck if it happens to their neighbor, whose unconventional beliefs seem weird, scary, and mockable.
The truth is, the persecution of cannabis users is just a small part of a much bigger plot to completely eliminate certain trains of thought from the minds of humanity. This coincides with the systematic genocide of the world’s indigenous cultures. Religions have existed for millenia that consider certain plants sacred and holy. Then, the white man stole their land and made their culture against the law.
But the genocide of the Native American and other indigenous races isn’t enough for the American Government. They also feel the need to completely eliminate indigenous cultures from American society. They won’t be satisfied until the last member of these races is dead, and all records of their culture’s existence is destroyed. They do not want these cultures’ ideas to ‘pollute’ our minds and jeopardize the control that our leaders have over us.
The last thing the ‘powers that be’ want is for members of their own race to convert to these alien ways of thinking. Thus, they do not recognize the rights of white people to partake in the cultures of other races. This runs contrary to our country’s professed ideals of many races and cultures coexisting harmoniously.
We live in a multicultural melting pot society, which means that different people living beside eachother will eventually adopt eachother’s customs. Although I am white, I am not strictly the product of white society. MTV and the public school system raised me, just as much as my parents did.
I see American society as a kind of cultural buffet. As an American citizen, I feel entitled to pick and choose which cultural customs to adopt personally. Thus, its unfair for the government or anyone else to say that I am not a Rasta, just because I am white. To me, a person who decides to follow a particular religion is a legitimate practitioner of said religion, regardless of race or cultural heritage. If a fat, rich white kid from New Jersey truly believes in Rasta ideals, then he IS a Rasta.
Sadly, the religious organizations controlled by indigenous races are so scarred by the white man’s transgressions, they tend to distrust us. This is exemplified by my quest to consume and understand the mystical and hallucinogenic catcus known as Peyote.
I tried everywhere to get this stuff. No one cold get it. Not hippies, not gangstas, not even the Mafia! Finally, I came to the conclusion that the only person who could hook me up was a real bonafide Native American.
So I went to their churches, and got the door slammed in my face many times. I asked Native Americans that I knew in every day life to let me in, and they angrily spurned my attempts.
Eventually, I got close enough to one of these guys to get him to really talk to me about it. But he was still reluctant to take me to his tribe’s peyote ceremony. When I asked him why, he would always respond:
“Its ours. Its not for your kind.”
But he knew that I was sensitive to the Native Americans’ plight, and he knew I understood that their race was dying. And so I said to him:
“If you don’t share your culture with me, then it dies with you.”
Understanding that all I wanted was to understand, he let me into the inner circle. Realizing that I was truly with them in Spirit, my friend and his tribe allowed me to partake. And I learned much wisdom that I will never forget, and carry with me into the world at large.
By converting followers of different races, the Native Americans can ensure that their culture lives on, even if their race dies out. One of the great things about culture is that it outlives the people who create it. Unfortunately, Rastafarians can be victim to this same paranoia about white people, but I have won their trust as well in times past.
The knowledge that curiosity about other peoples’ ways of thinking has given me has transformed me into a much better person than I used to be. And I credit both that and my complex understanding of theology to the consumption of entheogenic substances. So you’re never going to convince me that these chemicals don’t have spiritual value.
Instead, I will know that I am oppressed, and that Freedom of Religion in this country is a lie and a sham. It is yet another benefit of conformity that belongs to everyone else but me and the people I care about. I will know that I am a slave to a system which does not just try to control my body, but my mind and soul as well. I will know that not only my behavior, but my very way of thinking is being controlled by a crooked organization that is trying to fuck me and everyone else. And I will know that this is bullshit.
And whenever someone congratulates me on living in the Land of the Free where everything is gorgeous and rosy, I will always feel a mixture of both sadness and anger in my heart.