Sometimes when I leave Colorado, I feel like I'm entering a different planet. You might think, "Well, of course Andy, you guys made weed legal before any other state." And that's for sure a difference, but there's something about living in a place where people accept people for people.
At least in my community, there's a level handedness about people's ideas. If they want to smoke weed, then it's just another thing. If they want to talk left winged politics, then it's just another thing. Actually, I use it as an opportunity to present a different way of thinking. But in reality, nobody really cares. Ideas don't interfere with the social musings we enjoy.
When I travel then, I have to calibrate my own way of hearing different ideas to the way different parts of the country hear them. For example:
I was just in Little Rock at a Christian School.
My message was simple, "THE issue in the Teen world today is Loneliness masked by their constant connectivity online."
Pretty simple, RIGHT?
Well, to set up my thesis, I use several other issues people may think are THE issue, and I quickly try to show the audience how those ideas are symptoms of a core issue of ALONE.
Sexuality and Dating are an issue. We have to talk about them. The stats are grim for healthy relationships between boys and girls in school. But it's not THE issue.
Faith Issues in the Public Square is a topic that we need to address, but it's not THE issue we need to deal with.
Education all around is important, but at the end of the day, it's not THE issue teenagers are worrying about.
THE issue we see clearly at the core of all these other problems is LONELINESS.
So I used "Drug Abuse" as one of the issues we need to talk about.
Feeling rather confident I get the Marijuana issue since I AM from Colorado. I told a room full of Jr. HIgh Students, Teachers, and Administrators that we need to talk about it. "I believe in 5 years, legal recreational use is going to be legal in all 50 states. We have to talk about it, but it's not THE issue."
Well, I started getting emails.
Evidently some of the teachers were uncomfortable with my take on talking about Weed. Now mind you, I didn't encourage anyone to go smoke Marijuana in Jr. High. In fact, just the opposite. I can make a case that Marijuana is MOST dangerous in the age just past puberty. As their brains are connecting at a rapid rate, healthy living is important to make sure all those connections happen in a reasonably healthy way. (see EAT HEALTHY as an underpinning here)
But the teachers in the Jr. High weren't concerned with the fact I was trying to make a case to alleviate loneliness from our communities. No, they were more concerned with keeping the silence of smoking Marijuana in the presence of 7th-9th graders in their private school.
I'm a big boy.
I can take the criticism.
I can answer the emails.
I can even stand toe to toe with someone who thinks different than me. (insert Colorado community here)
But when teachers at an academy are unwilling to breach a topic that will INVADE their school within the next 5 years, it's absolutely ludicrous.
Weed is a PLAGUE in the public and private schools of America.
If you get a chance to sit down with your average teenager from anywhere in the country today, you'll find alarming percentages of pot heads in the schools. What was once a movie for adults to laugh and scoff at, is now a real deal in the hallways of high schools today. And what's more, it's TOTALLY accepted.
It's a non-conversation.
Where it was once a place of exclusion for "THOSE" kids, now it's just something like, "Yea...they smoke weed." And that's the end of the conversation. There's no shame. There's no guilt. There's no categorization. Athletes are smoking, Academics are smoking, Gamers are smoking, Fringe kids are smoking, Musicians are smoking, It's just the way it is.
To my teacher friends, "YOU are really hurting your students if you don't have an open discussion about what they are going to face in the next year or so. If you think your school is free from the Cannibas Revolution, you'll turn around in three years and it will have overgrown you." (pun intended)
To my parent friends, "No longer can you hide behind the shadows of 'I don't want them to know something they don't need to know at this age.' If your kid is over 10, it's time to start talking about the affects of Marijuana in your home. I promise, if you fail on this one, you're going to find the drug paraphernalia in your home before you know it."
We all think we can protect our kids from the ills of the world. But in reality, all we can do is coach them through it. You're not going to stop introduction to substances to your kid. You can't be with them every hour of their lives. But you can begin to coach them. Early and Often, you can set up boundaries they know they have to respect to live in your home.
If you wait...it's too late.