Saturday, March 15, 2008

Different Kinds of People

My life as it currently is takes me into different segments of society and sometimes it's a little confusing to get them all sorted out.

I meet a lot of religious Christians, and they assume I'm one because I don't make a habit (other than HERE) of announcing the fact that I don't currently line up with any particular conventional theology. I do go to a liberal church, though, so 2-3 days a week I am in close contact with people whose worldview is way different from people I meet other days.

Case in point: As part of my involvement with my neighborhood association, I have had the opportunity to attend local law-enforcement meetings. At the one I went to last week, there was a woman who was completely, unabashedly rabid on the subject of prostitution. She described how, when she sees a man inviting a young lady into his car, she will get behind the car, make a show of taking down the tag number, and sometimes follow one or both occupants if they later go into a nearby establishment. The police officer there had to urge her, more than once, to behave in a more circumspect manner, for her own protection. He said the local hookers are armed with two things most of the time: A blade, and a sexually transmitted disease, and very often they're high on some potent substances that make them much less likely to be intimidated by Joe or Jane Citizen. She is much better off, he said, just keeping her cell phone handy and calling the PD. Her descriptions were so vivid, it was truly fascinating.

So the following night, at a church meeting, I mentioned to a fellow congregant with whom I'm very friendly about how she ought to try attending some of these meetings -- they are true eye-openers. I mentioned that apparently our town's prostitution problems are quite something. My friend pretty much blew me off without listening to much more of what I had to say. She said, in effect, that with all that's going on in the world, people should have more to worry about than what prostitutes are doing.

This is a live-and-let-live attitude, and I share it about 75% of the time. But after having attended the meeting the night before, I had become slightly, temporarily, infused with the sense that I should, at all times, be looking out my window, prepared to call the police and report the slightest irregularity.

At work, everyone's white, respectably middle- or upper middle-class and they live in the "nice" part of town. Many of them ask me how it feels to live in my neighborhood. I look them straight in the eye and say "Well, it only takes me 10 minutes to get here every morning."

But if I internalize this and jokingly mention to someone at church that I live in "the 'hood" [ALL my neighbors call it that, unashamedly], I get disapproving looks. as in, how can you be so un-PC?

My fellow church-goers, most very well educated and mostly quite liberal politically, are of a very different mindset from my neighbors and co-workers. And as usual, I'm pretty much in the middle. Story of my life. I definitely believe that "the drug war" is making a mess of things. ~But~ I'm also happy when I hear stories of meth labs being busted, because the drug clearly devastates the users.

At least, that's what all the news stories say. But then you read columns in the off-the-beaten-track websites and papers that say no, the "meth epidemic" is simply the 21st century's version of "reefer madness," and that people really, truly need to be left alone to deal with their own vices rather than turning harmless junkies into criminals.

And where am I in all of this? I've never used pot, other than the one time someone passed me a pipe, I inhaled and felt absolutely nothing. No other drugs whatsoever. I like to drink but don't get to do it very often because more often than not, I'm the designated driver.

Oh, before I sign off, one more thing. It stopped raining a few hours ago. Now I hear gunshots.

1 comment:

PG said...

One way in which meth definitely is worse than pot: it destroys your teeth. There are teenagers in Kentucky who wear dentures because of their meth use. I am doubtful that we should put people in prison for using meth, but I don't think we should be indifferent to it either. Pot, in contrast, seems to be no worse for people than alcohol is; unless we're going to ban all mind-altering substances, we should just establish what effects we're OK with. For example, a substance that impairs you temporarily but doesn't have many long term effects and isn't highly addictive probably should be legal (alcohol, pot). A substance that is highly addictive is much more suspect, because people are more likely to become junkies rather than use it recreationally. I know many people who use nicotine and marijuana only occasionally, and I myself drink only occasionally (if I'm addicted to anything, it's probably refined sugars -- I get an almost-daily urge for those that I've rarely felt for alcohol).