Friday, May 25, 2012

Choom Gang: Reflecting on Obama's possible reflections on high school milieu has illustrated highlights of Obama's high school stoner life at the elite Punahou school in Hawai'i that accompany purported excerpts from David Maraniss's biography, Obama: The Story to be released June 19, 2012.

Certainly enthusiasm for getting stoned and drinking has been a feature of the high school and college lives of tens of millions of highly successful Americans.
How does an adult at age 40 or 50 look back at what were central features of the immature life in high school? Assuming these highlights are true, Obama's starchy rejection of marijuana legalization is a common adult reaction to a youthful marijuana enthusiasm.

One feature of a liberal education is exposure to Plato's dialogues. One of the most famous Platonic precepts (out of the mouth of Socrates, as usual) is what is now the cliche that the unexamined life is not worth living (The Apology, 38a).

Most of us by adulthood have looked back upon various features of our youth and regretted the periods or occasions of laziness and indolence, wandering, wasted opportunity, lust, dishonesty, miscellaneous misconduct, time wasted, foolishness, stupidity, etc.

Some of us may view our misconduct as a fairly common feature of immaturity, and view our past lives with toleration for our youth, if not with unalloyed pride. We may treasure our youthful mistakes and indiscretions, and feel that we learned from what seemed like lazy wandering or stoned indolence.

Others may deeply regret these acts and characteristics. They may associate all the features that accompanied the misconduct that is so now utterly inconsistent with their view of their contemporary selves with immaturity or vice. Thus those features, such as getting stoned, drinking, or tipping over cows or outhouses, become indistinguishable from driving intoxicated or drunk, or engaging in date rape and assault -- and thus intolerable.

Sometimes this regret and rejection leads to becoming a reformed crusader such as the former cigarette smoker or recovering alcoholic who takes on top of maintaining their recovery the mission of attempting to ban cigarettes or alcohol.

But far short of that approach is the simple association of disgust with the immaturity involved. "Getting stoned? That is just so immature," such a person feels.

How much, for example, might the strategic and ambitious Columbia and Harvard trained lawyer, University of Chicago law professor, Senator and President regret the carefree stoned days of his youth? How could I have been so immature? Even to contemplate it is barely tolerable.

Or given that Obama lives a life in which every minute of wakefulness is incomprehensibly precious, might he subconsciously feel the need to suppress the incipient envy of his carefree times getting stoned with his Choom gang? Legalizing marijuana? Who even has time to get stoned? Perhaps the buzz of a single glass of beer is the greatest permissible indulgence when any moment he may be called upon to respond to a crisis.

A politicians addicted to the news cycle easily takes on the perception that to be adult is to be ready at every moment to respond to any potential crisis. This is as distorted as the politicians lack of comprehension of the concept of privacy and anonymity.

Don't we consider sad the adult whose life seems to be stuck in constant reflection upon the glories or passions of their youth -- the man who was the star quarterback or receiver, the woman who thought her beauty and charm were at her zenith on the pep squad or upon being crowned at the pageant?

Yet absolutely no one proposes to outlaw the frivolities of beauty pageants or all manner of games involving balls of one type or another. Our cultural standards of what activities we judge to be wasted time remain remarkably "unexamined."

It is a public policy disaster when the regrets of the highly "examined" life of a person in power become a standard for dictating policies that consign the lives of ordinary citizens to be subjected to the police, the prosecutors, judges and jailers.

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