22 June 2014

Pope Francis...on the legalization of drugs...a partial agreement

Sorry for the link to NBC, but tis the link that was shared with me...Pope Francis' words here

In yesterday's thought of the day, I was alluding to this particular point, but I thought it a good idea to expand upon this point.

In our day where we have the government lusting for power and seeking to control every aspect of our lives, I can see really why people don't want the government involved in the regulation of drugs and such things like that. Seeing also our overcrowded prison systems, and the criminal activities that are involved in the drug war, I can see why the temptation to want to legalize drugs is here. Some points for consideration though:

1) Criminals will disobey laws regardless of whether they're there or not. That is to say, a criminal isn't going to suddenly behave morally because a law is passed for x. Those with the intent of breaking the law, will do so regardless of the consequence. This is of course not a good use of the free will they've been allotted, but hey, who am I to judge? :p

2) Drugs in of themselves are not an intrinsic evil. That is to say drugs can be used for good, or for evil, can be used to better you or make you sick. As with virtually anything, if one over uses something it is potentially harmful.

Now I did mention yesterday how the war on drugs in my humble opinion is a waste of money and resources. Why? I'm of the opinion that the money that is spent attempting to snuff out drugs could be better spent in other places, such as infastructure, the actual poor, you know those famous left wing pet causes that they pretend to care for, those ones :p....

But before we can even begin to have this discussion, we first need to figure out what role is the state supposed to play? Is the state supposed to play the moral police a la Saudi Arabia and other fundamentalist countries? Is the state supposed to just get out the way? Or is the answer somewhere in the middle? As I proceed to quote the catechism for a bunch of times...join me after the citations

CCC 1897 Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all."15 
By "authority" one means the quality by virtue of which persons or institutions make laws and give orders to men and expect obedience from them.

CCC 1898 Every human community needs an authority to govern it.16 The foundation of such authority lies in human nature. It is necessary for the unity of the state. Its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society.

CCC 1903-04 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, "authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse."23 "It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds. This is the principle of the 'rule of law,' in which the law is sovereign and not the arbitrary will of men."

CCC 1880A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. As an assembly that is at once visible and spiritual, a society endures through time: it gathers up the past and prepares for the future. By means of society, each man is established as an "heir" and receives certain "talents" that enrich his identity and whose fruits he must develop.3He rightly owes loyalty to the communities of which he is part and respect to those in authority who have charge of the common good.

CCC 1881: Each community is defined by its purpose and consequently obeys specific rules; but "the human person . . . is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions."4

CCC 1882: Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man; they are necessary to him. To promote the participation of the greatest number in the life of a society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions must be encouraged "on both national and international levels, which relate to economic and social goals, to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs."5 This "socialization" also expresses the natural tendency for human beings to associate with one another for the sake of attaining objectives that exceed individual capacities. It develops the qualities of the person, especially the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps guarantee his rights.6

CCC 1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. the teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."7

CCC 1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.

CCC 1886: Society is essential to the fulfillment of the human vocation. To attain this aim, respect must be accorded to the just hierarchy of values, which "subordinates physical and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones:"8
Human society must primarily be considered something pertaining to the spiritual. Through it, in the bright light of truth, men should share their knowledge, be able to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations, be inspired to seek spiritual values; mutually derive genuine pleasure from the beautiful, of whatever order it be; always be readily disposed to pass on to others the best of their own cultural heritage; and eagerly strive to make their own the spiritual achievements of others. These benefits not only influence, but at the same time give aim and scope to all that has bearing on cultural expressions, economic, and social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all other structures by which society is outwardly established and constantly developed.9

Virtually no one would argue that a government is not necessary for the basic functioning of society. Where people disagree is how said government should function.

The sense from the Catechism, is that the role of government is to preserve the order of society, for the sake of the common good...and in this context we can understand why there are regulations of particular goods and services and why certain laws are on the books.

Most certainly drugs fall into this category as well and I'm going to preface the next part by making a distinction. Decriminalization in my context would mean removing the jail portion of the punishment of an activity. Delegalization would be to take the laws off the books entirely. 

I would say the responsibility primarily belongs to the individual to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to use temperance in the use of drugs for good or for ill. In other words, know your limit and don't go beyond it. It is NOT the role of government to ensure that you stay within your limit. It's a violation of the misuse of free will. It is however the responsibility for the government to keep order in society, thus if one acts out of line or does something wrong, the government should step in with this particular situation. 

I would be for the removal of jail sentences for the possession of drugs. As I think jail should be used for real crimes (rape, murder, things like that). It's a complicated scenario to me...I'd rather see the resources for law enforcement be used appropriately (on say illegal immigration) rather than the drug war, but this is my opinion.

Pope Francis is right by saying we should say no to illegal drugs, but perhaps we should place responsibility on the individual first?

What are your thoughts?

Pax Vobis

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