Marijuana May Be Quasi Legal, But Let’s Be Honest, It Makes You Stupid
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
What are you smoking? It’s one of three questions we will ask today, but first we ask, What are you reading?—a question posed to politicians and others who expect to be taken seriously, often as a way of putting a candidate on the spot or giving him a chance to wax profound, because the expectation is a person ought to be reading something if he’s worth listening to.
A question that might as well be asked of any of us, though, is, What are you watching?, because televis-ion has become such a prolific enter-tainment medium, and because the response might be something like, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, TMX, Nancy Grace, and Everybody Loves Raymond reruns.
An interviewer might then say, but that must take hours every day—how do you find the time? And the answer goes something like this: Well, I’m not self-directed, I’m intellectually lazy, and I endlessly enjoy those five minutes of commercials around the clock interspersed with seven minutes of mindless programming.
This habit pattern works especi-ally well if you smoke dope, because while stoned your brain is neurochemically inhibited from maintaining an attention span (resulting in short term memory loss). Seven minutes of concentration for a stoner, you see, equates with about two hours of concentration for the able minded, and so television presents an appropriately dumbed down format for the former.
Reading books though is another story, and by comparison another dimension. Doing so, one follows a train of thought over a set of tracks that leads to a destination, stretching sinews of the mind over an elon-gated course so they might embrace a greater measure of mankind’s body of knowledge. The exercise of the mind, what’s more, by maintaining sustained attention while following a logic stream, creates neural pathways in the brain, electrical impulses that blaze new trails farther and farther into the inner reaches of consciousness (potentially). In the practice of meditation, similarly, deeper and deeper regions of the physical brain can be reached with greater and greater access to one’s innate potential to realize and experience the depths of the intui-tive self, all this by exercising the natural potential contained within your own cranium. This ultimate inner region, probed by practitioners for millennia, is specific, not metaphorical, and quaintly termed the Cave of Brahma.
The converse of this process, failure to exercise the brain’s faculties and push the envelope of attention, stultifies its powers, leaving its potential untapped and thwarted. Due to the repeated exercise of short attention spans (such as through TV and dope smoking), the brain’s neural pathways become set in place likes roots of a potted plant, or even worse, atrophy as they recede through neglect. Those of you who repot house plants know what occurs after the roots begin to expand into the larger pot—new shoots appear, the entire plant blossoms and grows like never before, and it’s a beautiful thing. Conversely, years of stultification in a small pot prevent the plant from taking its natural course of development. The corollary of short attention spans combined with prolonged neglect and abuse is that of repotting into even smaller pots—getting downright stupid.
It’s about sustained concentration and the will to exercise it, and how influences that keep us from plumbing the depths of the mind, or merely exceeding the practice of scratching its surface, prevent self-development. It’s as if God gave you a brain, a supremely magical cognitive gift that holds the potential of the universe, and you can find no better use for it than a door stop.
Two camps here comprising much of the modern world will undoubtedly squeal (apologies as the bearer of bad news)—stoners and TV addicts, though I’ve kept this article brief hoping both might follow along to this point (even as I admit that I myself have lingered in those camps at times for far too long, yet the experience might be counted as expertise pertaining to the subject at hand). The TV addict will say there’s much to watch that is worthwhile (this is true). Trouble is, it’s all passive, little effort is involved, and depending on the programming is designed for brevity, sound bites, and to keep your mind commercially suggestible, lazy, not pro active, so that you’ll suck up whatever they’re selling. The stoner will say that his mind expands and reaches new vistas (though he requires an agent outside of himself), and that’s probably true for a minute or two after getting off. But anyone who has ever been stoned and tried to read a book knows full well that simple reading is a near impossibility under the influence of marijuana, and that says it all. You find yourself reading the same sentence over and over again (if you are actually trying to comprehend) and soon give up entirely. It’s the reason people ask, What are you smoking? when your thought process fails—more simply, when you say something stupid. Multiply this effect over a period of time, especially the developmental years of adolescence, and you have a mentally thwarted human being.
Contrast this with the mind of an avid reader, someone developed in mathematics, languages, or an accomplished writer, a person who has put his brain to work and thereby grown into himself. Then, if there’s any doubt regarding the importance of attention span versus the influ-ences that subvert it, ask yourself which path you would have your children pursue.