There is no doubt about it; the 60s was the decade in which the counter culture went mainstream. It was the time of “Make love, not war” and “turn on, tune out, drop out” which gave some kind of legitimacy to the new movement. The ramifications of this period still linger today. Many pop artists such as the Beatles were revered and a number of their songs brought drug use into the consciousness.
Prior to the 60′s you could make the argument that drug use was around, but it certainly was not mainstream, nor was it talked about in any other way than being a scourge upon society when it was present.
My children, for some time, refused to believe that I didn’t at least smoke marijuana since I went to uni in the 60′s. I had to virtually swear on the Bible that I never touched the stuff. In fact, I never saw any marijuana being smoked at uni. You know the saying, “If you can remember the 60′s, you weren’t there”. Well I was there all right; even went to some parties. Sure there was alcohol, but I never saw drugs. Apparently, I was an oddball exception. I must have had oddball friends as well, since none of them touched the stuff.
The times in which we grew up (some more quickly than others) were very tumultuous with the Vietnam War, Watergate in the U.S. and women’s liberation, which caused a sudden shift in societal mores and expectations.
Let’s fast forward to today. We as seniors have grown up; at least our bodies have (sometimes to our disgust), though our brains are often still fixed in adolescence. While some baby boomers still continue to dabble into drugs, it is now rampant in the younger generation. In fact, we can state that a significant amount of the crime experienced today in western society is due to drugs such as marijuana, crack cocaine, amphetamines, heroin and the list goes on. Are we as baby boomers to blame for this state of affairs?
I believe that there are two answers to this question. First of all, our generation broke the mould. You could argue that regardless, at some point society would have made the transition. But we were at the vanguard of this change, so we have to take some degree of responsibility. In addition, today, the baby boomers are the leaders in government and social services. You could also argue that in some jurisdictions they are actually contributing to the problem.
The legalization of what was considered “illegal” is moving forward relentlessly. Drug use is becoming more tolerated. Two U.S. states have now legalized marijuana. The justification is that since alcohol is bad, then marijuana is no worse, so it should be legalized. This is contrary to research showing it to be a toxic substance to the brain and addictive in many cases. There are other problems resulting with people driving while impaired with marijuana, black marketers selling it to avoid government taxes and very quickly it has been documented that marijuana shops, which deal in cash, are being burglarized at an alarming rate.
The second point we could ask ourselves is why is drug use so rampant? Why do people need such a crutch that can be so deadly. It seems that the breakdown of the family structure has a lot to do with it. People that are lacking in the ability to sustain themselves financially get into drug trafficking. In many areas children don’t know their father (or mother) so the traditional discipline is gone and it is easy for young people to slip into the drug culture.
While I personally don’t feel responsible for the drug situation today, I think our generation has to take responsibility for it as a whole. The best way of doing so is to educate and assist young people to shift from the illusion that drugs can enhance their lives by reframing the mindset of society.
Do you think that our generation is somewhat responsible for the presence and problems of drugs in society today?