I STRIVE TO LIVE AND WORK from a place of gratitude and to use the tools at my disposal to create right action. But what is “right action”? How can it be identified? Right action can be generated through combining information with the desire to do right, but without enough information you get the cliché of good intentions and the road to hell.
How do we assess right and wrong to form beliefs and opinions in a world saturated with information and competing viewpoints? How do we identify sources as reliable or not? In a post-modern vein, truth becomes relative to the experience of the individual, subordinating an objective truth that can now be distorted or denied. I’ve heard our current reality described as “post-truth”.
But what are the degrees of relativity? Can we ever see the world with total truth and clarity if our perception is colored by the sum totality of experience lived? If we accept for the sake of discussion a relativity to individual (little t) truth, what larger commonalities can we draw? How do we compare unique experiences to gather data and offer a more informed understanding of truths that may be offered as objective (Big T) Truths?
The distortion or denial of objective truths has always been an issue for human beings reflecting wide gaps in what people believe vs. what is tangible and real. There exists a push-pull dynamic between individual truth and objective reality. This dialectic is complicated by the power that individuals have to shape the lens of perception through which those less powerful view the world.
Societies are organized under assertions that are offered as objective truths. Laws and customs create subjective truths that are held by groups and populations. A federal government that criminalizes cannabis puts forth a negative propaganda campaign that posits as objective truth a need for cannabis prohibition. This portrayal is shown to be both subjective and incorrect by the current scientific body of evidence and the trove of historical human experience that demonstrate otherwise.
Cannabis returns towards normalization, but there is still a long way to go. Citizen conversation and participation in democratic processes are needed now, more than ever, to continue the journey that has been carried for so many years by so many participants of cannabis culture.
It has been a profound experience to go from ignoring the political system to spending large amounts of my time learning and trying to act on the system. I appreciate the efforts of those who have gone before me, working in the darkness of cannabis prohibition. I pay homage to the many who have given love, effort and too often liberty for the struggle.
My father always taught us to “question authority, but to do so with respect.” This forms the basis for my attempts at interaction with policy and politics. Always question authority; seek to understand other perspectives and evaluate what is offered. Be prepared to point out needed changes, suggestions or inconsistencies, but do so with respect in support of dialogue and further understanding for all.
Democracy is a monumental process that exists in a continuum; America has always had a system of deep class differences that have defined the governing from the governed. Information is power; exponential increases in the ability to access knowledge create exponential potential for positive actuation of citizens.
When I was a kid, we were given two heavy boxes containing a set of full Encyclopedia Britannica. It was an amazing trove of information, though because it was locked in stasis, portions of it became outdated. Though this made for the possibility of a person learning incomplete, or even incorrect information, it was till a tremendous wealth of knowledge.
When you wanted to know about something, you went to the shelf and pulled out a book and looked through it until you found what you were looking for. You had to know the title and where to look in the sections. The information was finite and contained.
Fast forward to today, I can search the collective knowledge set encompassed by what we call the hive-mind from my smartphone to access the sum human totality of information that exists on a given subject. Modern technology coupled with the internet has created a phenomenon similar to a hive of bees, acting in simultaneous concert for the benefit of the greater whole.
The accessibility of knowledge has evolved. What was an individual process involving a specific physical location with the action of opening a book and leafing to the correct page (while having an accurate idea of what to look for), has become an ability to cross-reference, search by keyword and refine a search to sift and process information. This can be can done almost anywhere, and at any time. This fundamental connection to information systems and analytical tools is an exponential change in the ability for humans to access knowledge.
This exponential change can be compared in a limited way to the evolutionary shift from primates to humans. Humans became capable of more complex processes that increased in a greater-than-linear fashion over time. Computing has done the same thing, except that as Thomas Friedman notes in “Thank You for Being Late”, the rate of change is expanding exponentially as is the magnitude of the change.
The ability to connect to a larger consciousness that possesses infinite knowledge is a reality to which we must give great thought. We must adjust our systems of learning and education so that humans learn how to interact with the hive-mind.
We need a broad discussion about right action that focuses on commonalities and builds the agreement to disagree. We need to participate in the democratic process, questioning authority with respect and an interest to learn. We need to reflect on and consider the continuum between subjective and objective truths. Peace be the journey.
Casey O’Neill co-operates Happy Day Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises two acres of Clean Green Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. He is a stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers as vice-chair of development for California Growers Association. He works to support Mendocino County policy-makers in crafting sensible regulations. You can find his radio show on podcast at HappyDay Farms Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or soundcloud. HappyDay Farms website: http://www.happydayfarmscsa.com