I recently started attending an ethical explorations group that’s reading and discussing the 1998 book Drugs, edited by Jeffrey Schaler, and while I’m thoroughly enjoying the banter and ideas being spouted, two things have gotten my back up in my first two sessions:
- Ageism against youth, and
- Dehumanization of drug users
The ageism is some genu-wine, real-deal, “Kids these days, with their music and clothes and not giving a damn.” (I’m serious. I just covered my face in shock.)
The term the youth gets tossed out a lot. If drugs were legalized, the youth would go crazy using drugs.
The youth. Who… who are these youth? These shifty youth who all need to be taught how to be a proper citizen and how to work hard?
Are these youth truly, at their core, so much different than the last generation, and the last?
The dehumanization of drug users is equally disappointing. One woman–and two of us protested this very quickly–said that drug users were already “worthless people”. Not even addicts. Just users.
And yet in the same discussion, one woman remarked something to the effect of, “Having an addict in your family is so embarrassing. I never worried about [her kids or grandkids?] getting into drugs. They just had to remember their uncle to not want to.”
So who are the youth so doomed to fail, again? Her children? Me? My sister?
Who are these worthless addicts? Her brother? Struggling members of all of our families?
I feel like my place in this group could be to keep reminding these people that there are faces at the ends of their stereotypes and dismissals. I can share stories of what I’ve seen, what stories and plights people have shared with me, and hopefully soften the discussion into one that isn’t so dismissive.
Why come together to explore the ethics of a dilemma if your compassion for the people involved is blocked by pity?