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Entries in drug war (1)

Friday
Oct082004

D And The Drug War

In redoing this entire site in 2011, I also went in search of writings that I could add into the chronology. This letter is addressed some party that I just don't remember the name of, but it is a good telling of one of the stories dear to Kelli and me, and one thing that brought us closer together into our present relationship.

To whom it may concern:

I regret that I am not able to contribute financially to your cause, but let me pass on a story that you may find shows my concern for the issue of the failed drug war.

A little over three years ago a friend of ours was killed. The three of us had grown up together in the same church, a liberal protestant denomination. This young man named D was a clever guy. He was always the one who could be counted on to think outside the box. He was the one who smuggled lighters to school and to the mountain retreats the church had. He brought the booze too as a partying teenager. This of course didn’t make him a bad guy, just a guy who liked to push things a little.

D was smart. D was caring and compassionate. But eventually in his early 20s or so, he got into selling drugs. One could say his liberal hippy parents exposed him to it, and indeed they did introduce him to marijuana. D’s father is a mathematician and philosopher who worked for the Navy and other defense-related firms, and his mother was a consummate mother to him and his three siblings, both bringing the kids a bold outlook on life from allowing them to explore and make mistakes, but always with a teachable moment attached. Mother and father are both great people, and their position on sharing pot with the kids was that it would be better if they initiated it than if the kids got into it from a street connection. It was sort of like drinking beer in Germany in that regard.

D was smart, as I said, and he honed that while a student at UC Santa Cruz. It's hard to hold down a real job while at college, so I am sure he enhanced his income with some side show drug sales, which of course led to more and more of the same. I guess he found how lucrative it was and probably had a hard time justifying a reversal toward a “real job” that an “honest” person would be working. This doesn’t make him a bad guy, just a capitalist in the celebrated American tradition.

He never carried a gun. He never armed himself but with the martial arts. He knew he was in a dangerous trade, but he was there solely for the money and the adventure. His mind was always running ahead of most others; he just did this because it wasn’t boring, and it paid well. He never hurt anyone in a criminal way. He just provided a service for people who wanted to pay.

He got into trouble with the law and at one point, I believe he spent a year in jail. His dad tried to get him to renounce all this after one of D’s customers threatened him (dad) at gunpoint in his own home, and I sense that he came to regret somewhat introducing him to pot all those years ago. I don’t know; it’s still a sore topic to bring up. D got to be a bigger and bigger player in the business around San Diego. He drove different cars every few weeks, changed his cell phone number, and he had bodyguards. He was a big guy in his field. But he was still D. Distant from us, but still D. By now he knew he was pushing his luck. But it was so lucrative.

He was killed in a bad deal in his apartment on August 6, 2001. Shot in the head.

And for what? Some say he deserved it, or deserved to be punished. Nonsense. He was a human being who was in a good paying business. No one deserves to be killed like that at the age of 25. D was a peace loving young man who ran on the outside, but even within his trade, he ran on the outside, choosing never to arm himself. I think that takes a lot of faith in God to do. I don’t believe he sold drugs to undermine society or to create havoc. For him, it wasn’t some loser job that is the standard fare for a college grad here. No burger flipping, gas pumping, or bartending for D.

I think the problem is that there is a market for it at all. Or more specifically, that there is such a lucrative market. What is the problem that makes all these people want to use drugs such that a pretty decent fellow like D would be drawn to it as a business opportunity instead of anything else that a college graduate would be able to get in the “real world” if he were to play that game? Why is this drug dealing business so damned lucrative? Hey, not a lot of people would laugh at being able to make thousands of dollars a week. The difference between most of us and D is that he just went and did it while the rest of us still slaved away at our desks.

To me, the answer is that we in America are a miserable bunch. Look at the newspapers every day and see stories of how our government, educational systems, and economy are in a state of entropy. Or see how people are devalued because they aren’t skinny enough, fast enough, hip enough, bad enough, sexy enough, tan enough, white enough, black enough, endowed enough or whatever. See how consumerism keeps people in fear of not being able to keep up. See how much energy and time and money it takes to hold your own against your neighbors who have X, Y, and Z. People are totally devalued in our society, and I find it no surprise that drug use is rampant. Can you blame people for wanting to forget for a few hours the misery that is their lives? Or their futures? Can you blame a suburban teenager for getting high when his suburb is cut off from any culturally redeeming facilities? Can you blame an out of work defense worker who made a living wage for 25 years only to find he got fired or laid off before his retirement was up? Can you blame the college students for wanting to explore the life they couldn’t while at home?

We can keep jailing people for being unhappy and depressed, but I think at the rate we are going, we’re going to need a lot more jails! The billions upon billions spent on ethically bankrupt wars (Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Drugs, Terror, Clinton, etc.) could be spent so much more wisely than they are now. But I guess it doesn’t make good evening news to show that there are people in counseling and retraining and any other basically reconstructive program that would make people feel more useful to society. No, instead we are left with “if it bleeds, it leads.”

My wife learned about D’s death from the evening news. I heard about it from her. She was a total mess.

Thank you for your work. Hope this helps keep you motivated.