Growing up in a fundamentalist, Pentecostal church-cult setting, I periodically heard testimonies of alcoholics, drug addicts, and other unfortunates who had turned their lives around completely after having a come-to-Jesus conversion, spiritual cleansing, and renewal.
However, after taking a course called "Introduction to New Testament" at a liberal seminary and after doing other independent religious research, I would now say there may not be a Second Coming or a literal God who has infinite love, knowledge, and power. Furthermore, reincarnation may just be a warm and fuzzy fantasy--not literally true--as described in the Hindu, yoga, and Buddhist scriptures.
"The peace that passes all understanding," agape, or unconditional love, and the shikinah glory mentioned in the Old and New Testaments; the blissful, "enlightened" state of loving-kindness described in Eastern traditions; and the euphoric, psychedelic experiences of other truth seekers--all such experiences can provide hope and a sense of well-being, and they can even improve a person's psychological adjustment and social relationships. But it is when a person becomes dogmatic and intolerant of the beliefs of others--when no one knows anything with absolute certainty about these perennial questions--that conflicts arise. When religious, political, and economic beliefs become institutionalized and publicly sanctioned, any brave and courageous "free thinkers," who break free of their social conditioning, are criticized and shunned. In previous centuries, they could be executed.
The US government does not want marijuana and other drugs legalized if the CIA can covertly sabotage democratically elected, often socialist, governments (that are perceived as a threat to US transnational corporations) using illegal drug money. Drug legalization would make the prices go way down, which means the government would not be able to easily engage in illegal political activities, unbeknownst to the average American.
But there also is an entirely different reason that consciousness-altering drugs are illegal for mainstream consumption. They cause individuals to think independently and to question the official, cultural myths about what is true and valuable--myths that keeps the masses obedient and subservient. Individuals who have had mystical or spiritual experiences from marijuana and psychedelics often do not buy into consumerist materialism and war addiction mentality that the mainstream media and government promote.
If the constitution, our supreme civil document, can be amended and abolished more easily; if hemp can be legally cultivated, as it was before 1937, for industrial, medical, and agricultural reasons; and if marijuana can be legalized for private home use and spiritual purposes in every state--we the people can create a new civilization that is ecologically and culturally sustainable.
Roger Copple is 63 years old. He retired 3 years ago in 2010 from teaching general elementary, mostly 3rd grade, and high school special education in Indianapolis. He now lives in the Bradenton/Sarasota area of Florida. He lives in one of those 55+ communities and misses seeing young people when he looks out the window. He is deeply grateful that he stuck it out to get a teacher's pension and started getting his Social Security early at age 62. He now hopes to make a contribution to society through further study, reflection, and writing.