Our still, small voice
By Edith Morgan
Not all of us have one. And of those who do, not all of us listen to it. It’s invisible, except in some Disney movies, where it is called “Jiminy Cricket,” or where it takes the shape of a small, mouthy dragon, as in “Mulan”, or where it is sometimes portrayed as sitting on our shoulder, on the opposite side from a devil figure, whispering into our ear and trying to guide us onto the right path.
I grew up in the era when Sigmund Freud was making his discoveries about the human psyche. We understood that there were three important parts, which should remain in balance: the id, the ego, and the superego.
Looking at our society today, it is obvious that the ego and the id are in great shape; but there is scant evidence of any superego in a number of our citizens: there appears to be no small, still voice speaking to us, and counseling us, and guiding us in our daily endeavors.
It is the voice of conscience that is so often missing, or drowned out by the clamor of the ego (taking selfies, starting nearly every sentence with “I,” pandering to our every whim, and indulging even when we know it is harmful.).
I bring this up now because these days we are looking to power and help outside of ourselves and blame external forces for our troubles.
The opioid crisis is a good example: Is there any adult out there who does not know about the addictive power of alcohol, nicotine, heroin, oxycontin, marijuana and all the other habit-forming substances out there?
I will admit that it is much more difficult for some of us to resist their appeal than it is for others. The penchant to become addicted seems to be far stronger in some of us than in others. We have all known people who can take a drink or two, or a cigarette or two, and not want any more. But we also know others who, on taking one drink, or one pill, or one cigarette, immediately crave another, and another and another.
When I was a school teacher, I was pretty sure I could spot the potential habit-formers among students as early as grade 1, and I believe that most teachers today can do the same, given a chance to think about it.
Wouldn’t it be a better preventive, if we could help those children right from the beginning, at least warn them, and help them to resist the siren call of addiction?
The so-called “War on Drugs” has been an expensive and violence-ridden failure, and we still have about the same number of addicts. Added to the street drugs, we now have so many pain killers, passed out like candy – acting as the gateway to street drugs.
How about funding immediate treatment, rather than the revolving door of jail?
How about insisting that treatment be long enough, good enough, and individualized enough to enable addictive personalities to stand up to their problem?
It would be cheaper, more effective and more humane.
And maybe we can get back to instilling that still, small voice inside us all that tells us “Don’t do this!”. Conscience is good for other decisions too, and putting up with a bit of discomfort once in a while certainly beats becoming an addict.