By Roberta Russell
Humanity is racing toward a future of mass extinctions, escalating heath-crises, climate-induced disruptions to society, human overpopulation and over consumption.
E.O. Wilson, an entomologist and author of The Social Conquest of Earth and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, talks about the adaptive concept of euosociality. This state is defined by cooperative brood care, overlapping generations and division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive groups. The survival of the group is more important than the individual. This state exists in certain insects. Partly because they cooperate, they have survived for millions of years longer than human beings. Consequently, there are many more ants surviving in the world today than people, even measured by weight!
We are in a more precarious position than most people realize. Even though we are besieged by unprecedented heat waves, torrents of rain and droughts, and a spreading, mutating plague of COVID-19, most of us live in our own little worlds, our attention consumed by daily chores and rituals, paying the bills, jobs, child-care, the rituals of family birthdays, and the ebb and flow of perceived slights and affirmations. All the while, we have only a dim, nagging awareness of the world around us disintegrating.
Psychoactive plants and fungi have been used to change our consciousness for as long as there have been cultures. To accomplish the extreme changes that are necessary to arrest our path of insidious mass destruction, we need to transmute our dim, passive awareness into an active and cohesive effort to stop the destruction and heal the world.
How can we raise consciousness to do that?
Not coincidentally, perhaps, there is now a dramatic rise in the use, aceptance and legality of mind-altering plants. According to Michael Pollan, author of This is Your Mind on Plants, 2021 (number five this week on Amazon charts), voters have leapt ahead of politicians and see the potential of certain illicit drugs as powerful tools for healing and raising consciousness.
In Oregon 59 percent of voters supported decriminalization of small quantities of all drugs, even heroine and cocaine, as well as legalization of psilocybin therapy. Licensing of growers of so-called magic mushrooms is in the works with a plan to train facilitators to administer them in 2023.
A new drug reform movement called Decriminalize Nature has persuaded some local governments including Washington DC to make plant medicines legal, including psilocybin, ayahuasca, iboga and the cactuses that produce mescaline.
In California the State Senate recently passed a bill that would legalize the “social sharing” of psychedelics, including LSD and MDMA a.k.a. Ecstasy.
Decriminalizing these powerful compounds may be the first step in figuring out how to safely weave their transformative power into our society. Formerly illicit, cannabis is now legal in 18 states.
An unexpected visit from the savvy, favorite grandson of my recently departed friend, opened my eyes to the vastly increased presence of consciousness altering drugs commonly used today. Many of these are legal or on the path to becoming prescription drugs.
There is the commonly reported, but still illegal increased awareness born of micro-dosing of LSD or mushrooms, without the more dramatic effects of a full dose. CBD gummies and Marijuana by prescription and without for depression or pain are also on the rise.
The use of psychoactive drugs with high-minded intentions, not just escape, can put us on a more earth-conscious path that spreads rapidly through companions and our online presence. Whatever it takes, be it serious thought, meditation, or even consciousness-raising plants, to survive in the long run, we must learn and adjust.
This week I am going to look for an all-electric car that can go 400 miles without refueling. If you would like to share what you are doing, please do (email@example.com). In unity there is strength.
Roberta Russell is the author of R.D. Laing & Me: Lessons in Love with R.D. Laing, (Hillgarth Press, 1992), Report on Effective Psychotherapy: Legislative Testimony (Hillgarth Press, 1981, 1994), and Report on Permanent Weight Loss (Columbia Academic Commons, 2017). She has also been a contributor to various international magazines and journals including: Psychologie Heute (Germany), Japan Times (Japan), The Psychologist (U.K.), Human Potential Magazine (U.K.), Changes (U.K.), Clinical Psychology Forum (U.K.), Psychoanalytic Studies (U.K.), and Bottom Line (USA). Occasionally, Roberta hosts a New York City cable television show, called Lifetalk, which has featured interviews with movers and shakers in controversial areas of psychology, weight loss, nutrition, medicine, the environment, and population growth.