Where Are We Going?

There is an old story dating from who knows when that talks about the Camel’s nose and the tent his master occupies.  It goes something like this:

One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in.  “Master”, he said, “let me put my nose in your tent.  It’s cold and stormy out here.”  “By all means,” said the Arab, “and welcome” as he turned over and went to sleep.

A little later the Arab awoke to find the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also.  The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, “I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent.  It is difficult standing out here.”  “Yes, you may put your forelegs within”, said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.

Finally, the camel said, “May I not stand wholly inside?  I keep the tent open by standing as I do.”  “Yes, yes,” said the Arab.  “Come wholly inside.  Perhaps it will be better for both of us.”  So the camel crowded in.  The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep.  When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself.

True, this is an old, old tale but one, I believe, that we should remember lest we end up as the man did…out in the cold wondering what the heck happened to us when all we were trying to do was be nice and hospitable.

We have a nearly perfect story like this but it is a current story and it is happening in California where the ‘heroin’ habit is the camel with its nose under the tent.  The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that two new heroin injection sites will open this July, likely making San Francisco the first city in the nation to “embrace the controversial model of allowing drug users to shoot up under supervision.”

If that is not the modern version of the Camel story, I don’t think there is a modern version, yet we know better and the proof lies before our very eyes if we’ll but look around us.  That same article noted that while San Francisco can ‘celebrate’ being the first in the nation to take such action, other cities, including Seattle, Baltimore and Philadelphia are now talking about opening their own safe injection facilities.  Such facilities already exist in Canada, Australia, and Europe.

We are moving from neighborhood needle exchanges to full-fledged injection facilities.  What is next?  Maybe the government will take on the work of supplying the heroin to assure that it is ‘safe’ for use.  San Francisco is the same city that legalized marijuana and the city elders were remembered as having said: “we won’t tolerate harder drugs.”  So much for the city elders’ resolve.  I wonder how many of them stop by a “shoot-up” center on their way to city meetings so they can make even more such well-informed and well-intentioned decisions.

Having family in Colorado, I have railed about that state and it’s embracing of marijuana, and about where that is likely to lead ultimately.  California was one of those early “Marijuana use” states and we can see readily where that took, and is still taking, that state.  Where there are as yet “unclaimed tax dollars” to be found, there are officials only too happy to play the same game that California embarked on some time earlier.  If anything, Colorado might be ahead of California in terms of where it has come in the relatively short time marijuana has been legalized.  The line between real medical need and contrived medical need simply creating a recreational need is dimmer and dimmer as tax revenues grow and more is needed to match the increased spending of that revenue stream.

The proverbial marijuana camel has its nose under the tent flap of the United States and it will not go away until it, too, has come fully into our tent, thus leaving no room for us who have stood by and watched this happen.  We will not be able to claim, before the ultimate judge, that we had no way of knowing where that was to lead us.  We already see where that takes us, and we’re virtually out of time to do anything substantive about that problem we’ve created for ourselves.

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