If you’ll indulge me a moment, I’d like to discuss two prominent examples of cognitive dissonance in relation to two ongoing debates – opposition to “sustainable living” as a concept, and hostility towards treating drug use as a health problem.
It’s always seemed a bit odd to me that anyone could seriously oppose the idea of people living as “sustainably” as possible. The opposite of “sustainable”, obviously, is “unsustainable” – and the point of something being “unsustainable” (the definition, in fact) is that you cannot keep doing it indefinitely. And of course no-one, least of all the “however I like” crowd, is advocating a style of living that they believe is doomed.
The problem is that most of the people opposing what “greenies” mean by “sustainable living” seem to have convinced themselves that their own lifestyle is itself actually sustainable. That fossil fuels will somehow magically last indefinitely; that emitting greenhouse gases will not have the effect on a large scale that it does in an actual greenhouse; that the more fresh water we use the more will somehow fall from the sky; that the planet will somehow develop a way of dealing with our waste that doesn’t affect our ability to live on it. The argument isn’t whether living “sustainably” is a sensible thing – even your hardest core anti-greenie doesn’t want to run out of water or electricity – it’s what living “sustainably” means.
Personally, I’d love to be convinced that doing whatever the hell I like with what appear to me to be limited resources will have no consequences whatsoever. I’m just yet to hear an argument along those lines that makes the slightest bit of sense.
Similarly, the argument for throwing drug users in prison. The primary reason why we proscribe certain substances is that we want to save members of the community who might be tempted from the negative effects of that drug. Criminalising drugs is not a method of addressing drug crime – almost by definition, it creates it – instead, it’s advocated as a means of addressing a potential health problem.
And yet the same people who justify their support for the “War on Drugs” on health grounds oppose dealing with drugs as a health problem once the War has been established. They oppose safe injecting rooms. They oppose spending public money on the massively overstretched programs to help drug addicts manage and conquer their addictions. They just want to send them to jail.
How does that make any sense? How can you justify a War on Drugs on the grounds of concern for users’ health, and then refuse to countenance measures to treat drug use as the health problem it is? How can you claim to care so much for users that you want the government to spend millions upon millions of dollars keeping drugs away from them, and then care nothing for their well-being when it fails?
Belief in the sustainability of unsustainability; viewing drugs as a health problem but not a health problem. Mindsets that only make sense if you don’t think them through.
ELSEWHERE: The Daily Telegraph – yes, the Daily Telegraph – published an article yesterday about the ludicrousness of refusing to allow sufferers of painful or terminal illnesses – such as cancer – to have access to medical marijuana and other cannabis-based medications.