A video that has gone viral in the last week or so features a Rabbi, a Priest, and an Atheist smoking weed together and then subsequently engaging in a “deep” conversation. When I first saw the video show up on my Facebook news-feed, I promptly ignored it (for reasons that I will get to soon), but after a few friends have called this video to my attention I decided that I had to watch.
For those that have not seen the video – here is the link.
I usually like to give somewhat lengthy introductions in my posts before getting to the main point, but for this one I think I may break tradition. This video is one of the most pathetic things I have seen in a while. Watching this video, I actually got noticeably upset at many different points. The 3 panelists in the video are attempting to engage in a pseudo-intellectual conversation, only to continuously be interrupted by periodic comments of “I am so high right now” or the director/cameraman encouraging them to continue smoking. There are so many problems that I had with this video that I don’t even know where to start, so I guess I will chose at random.
In my opinion, one of the most important traits that an individual or community can have is an acceptance of pluralistic ideals. What this means is that I can have my own opinions on politics, religion, etc. but I do not think that people who do not agree with me are either stupid or immoral. I fully understand that there are very smart and upright people who have very different worldviews than me, and I not only accept these people into my life, but greatly value their input. The biggest problem with this video is that it encourages the exact opposite worldview.
The message that this video, and the 3 people in the video, are expressing is that “weed is good because it allows you to see things differently and promotes mutual understanding.” Now let us take a step back and analyze this message. Do we really want to accept that getting high is the best way, or even a good way, to promote better understanding between different groups? Is this truly better than a conversation where everyone is in complete control of their rational faculties and able to have a serious discussion, not broken up by coughing and encouragement to continue smoking.
This video received over 43 million views on Facebook, and I am sure that number has increased by the time you are reading this post. It is easy to see why. This video had a seemingly positive message, and was fairly entertaining, but I truly think that its overall message is very detrimental. There are very explicit reasons for Atheist, Jews, and Christians to all hate each other. Just take a look throughout history, regarding how these groups treated each other. The only way to fix this problem is through rational conversation and constructive dialogue.
In this video we have a young, gay, atheist, a man clearly hurt by religion, talking to a Rabbi and Priest about God. This man clearly had some deep qualms against religion, and I can understand why. However, the conversation was never able to get to a “deep” level. Yes, they all ended by giving each other blessings, but I can assure you that meeting did not end with mutual understanding – the most clear cut precursor to empathy.
Over the last couple of years I have had countless conversations with people who have fundamentally different worldviews then I do, and the majority of the time it is a positive experience. It is a true shame that this video could not have been a discussion based around empathy or mutual understanding between the 3 panelists. Maybe then, the Rabbi and Priest could begin to understand how hard it is for gay people in religious communities. Maybe then, the Atheist could understand the power and meaning of religion, and its overall importance. Maybe the Priest and Rabbis could have talked about the implicit biases that exist between the Christian and Jewish communities. Smoking weed does nothing to account for the fact that the Bible says to punish both gay people and atheists, or that many atheists feel that religion needs to be completely abolished as soon as possible.
Again, the only way to fix these problems is through dialogue and conversation. The Rabbi could have explained the historical reasons for various laws against the LGBT community, and that most Jewish communities now have found ways to re-interpret or revise these ancient laws. The Atheist could have explained his philosophy to the religious panelists, and they could have all come to a better understanding of each other’s position. Instead, the three panelists, and the millions of people viewing the video, will all go home having participated in or witnessed an interesting event, all maintaining their same worldviews and biases against other groups.
This is not a tirade against smoking weed in general, there are many different circumstances when weed is not only fine, but it can actually improve an experience. Additionally, there is ample research being done on the positive effects of weed in a multiplicity of occasions. Rather, this article is a critique of the belief that weed or any other “quick fix” will be able to solve any of the serious problems that we have in our world.
Marx said that religion is the opiate of the people, but in today’s day and age it is instant gratification that is the true opiate of the masses. Religion, at least for me, represents a lifelong endeavor to search for the truth and good in the world, while trying to promote a universal ideal in the world. Religion and serious philosophical/intellectual discussion are difficult, smoking weed is easy. Instant gratification, as shown in this video, represents a worldview where people wish to hide all of the real problems and instead bury all of their problems by pretending that they do not exist.
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