Human Suffering

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Human Suffering - Happiness & the Relief of Human Suffering
Do individual happiness and the relief of human suffering really represent the supreme expressions of good in society today? Are things that cause us happiness as individuals always good for us? Does human suffering ever involve a higher good? Defining morality in terms of happiness and suffering proves too simplistic. For example, many psychotropic drugs cause the user to experience euphoria, an extreme sense of happiness, yet these same drugs can cause physical addiction and organ damage, leading to death over long periods of use. You have stated previously, “When one looks at our drug laws -- the only organizing principle that appears to make sense of them is that anything which might radically eclipse prayer or procreative sexuality as a source of pleasure has been outlawed.”87 Most readers will readily see the exaggeration and anti-Christian rhetoric in such a statement. You point out, “In particular, any drug (LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, MDMA, marijuana, etc.) to which spiritual or religious significance has been ascribed by its users has been prohibited.”88 Like all drugs, even those in regular use, the desired effects come laden with undesirable side-effects that affect members of the population unevenly. LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and Ecstasy (MDMA) are all hallucinogens that offer the user side-effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, tachycardia (increased heart rate), dizziness, headaches, and anxiety. These drugs may also result in a long-term side-effect known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) that can lead to life-long anxiety issues and sleep disorders. Psychotropic drugs provide instant gratification, but come with a heavy price tag.

While you won’t likely have much success convincing your readers that such dangerous street drugs should be legalized, you clearly think that “nearly everything human beings do. . .is more dangerous than smoking marijuana in the privacy of one’s own home.”89 After all, as you say, “drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen account for an estimated 7,600 deaths each year in the United States alone, [but] marijuana kills no one.”90 While apparently harmless, from your estimation, marijuana has begun to gain recognition for the danger it presents.

    Marijuana use is much more dangerous than believed and hundreds of young people die each year in "accidents" caused by their prolonged use of the drug, according to Britain's most senior coroner. Hamish Turner, the president of the Coroners’ Society, told The Telegraph that the marijuana, often portrayed as harmless, has increasingly been the cause of deaths that have been reported as accidents or suicides.91
While the opinion of one coroner offers only anecdotal support, let’s consider what the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reports.
    The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) collects information on deaths involving drug abuse that were identified and submitted by 128 death investigation jurisdictions in 42 metropolitan areas across the United States. Cannabis ranked among the 10 most common drugs in 16 cities, including Detroit (74 deaths), Dallas (65), and Kansas City (63). Marijuana is very often reported in combination with other substances; in metropolitan areas that reported any marijuana in drug abuse deaths, an average of 79 percent of those deaths involved marijuana and at least one other substance.92
What about the concept of human suffering? Is suffering always perceived negatively? Should we avoid it at all costs? Occasionally short-term pain acts as a warning device so that we can avoid long-term suffering. When we experience unexpected physical pain, it can serve as an admonishment that our health may be in jeopardy. If we address this indicator at an early stage, we often can look back and view that pain as a blessing.

If you would like to participate in the relief of human suffering, and help save children from difficult conditions, please consider the sponsorship programs at Compassion International.

Keep Reading!

Read Page 1 of Letter To A Christian Nation: A Response.


Footnotes:
87 Ibid., p. 160.
88 Ibid., pg. 160-161.
89 Ibid., p. 161.
90 Ibid.
91 http://alcoholism.about.com/b/a/039646.htm.
92 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Mortality Data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2001 (PDF), January 2003, see http://dawninfo.samhsa.gov/old_dawn/pubs_94_02/mepubs/
files/DAWN2001/DAWN2001.pdf.


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