It’s hard not to notice these days that there is something not right about the state of affairs in our country.

We are supposed to be living as free people in a free country — we long ago shed the dictators, kings, and tyrants that ruled the masses for tens of thousands of years, subjecting people to their whims.

We have clawed our way here, climbing on the backs of giants, people who put their lives on the line to get us here. The sacrifices of our forebears have been many and great: they have died in trenches, been beheaded for blasphemy, and been hanged for treason. The purging of academics, and academia, has been a regular occurrence over the centuries, along with removing anyone else who dares speak up against the policies or beliefs of rulers.

It is with great effort, loss, and perseverance that those who came before have gotten us to here, but where are we?

Growing up I was taught that our free and democratic country, with elected public servants instead of rulers, meant that we could do or not do as we choose provided we weren’t harming others. I learned that there were principles of fundamental justice in place that meant, among other things, if accused of a crime we are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. I believed that a ‘crime’ meant that one had intentionally caused harm to someone else.

Of course, as it turns out not much of that is actually true. It really does seem that we are living under a dictatorship, with all kinds of rules and laws that certainly do not respect us as free individuals. In fact, the tyrants and dictators are still very much in control thanks to loopholes and lobbyists. ‘Lobbyist’, for the most part, is a fancy spin-doctored term for people with great leverage who threaten and bribe public servants behind closed doors to get the interests of their masters protected at the public’s expense.

Our system of government has been co-opted by the very people it was meant to protect us from, and the majority of people don’t get it or understand how important, valuable, and hard fought for our freedom is.

Those tyrants and dictators of the past are the corporate and financial elite of today and they are very well leveraged and sophisticated. They still have an agenda of economic domination, of exploiting and controlling the masses, and monopolizing the products we purchase. They keep us divided, distracted, entertained, confused, overwhelmed, overworked, over-taxed, under-paid, stressed, angry, and drunk.

We are brought up to ‘just obey’ the authorities. We are told police officers are peace officers who are there to serve and protect us and that we can trust them. We believe we live in freedom, with democracy, and by the Golden Rule. But the truth is that police are policy enforcers for corporate interests, and really we are free to obey because the real golden rule is that ‘they who have the gold make the rules’. Our democracy is more like a dumbocracy…an idiocracy in the making.

The system our forebears fought and died for, the one that we are born into, is not what it should be: the freedom to obey is not what they died for! Reality is upside-down, backwards, and inside-out compared to what it should be. Our natural, inalienable right to be free is grossly violated by our public servants and the system itself to benefit those who are the enemy of freedom, the same tyrants we have been fighting against for generations.

The best example of this is the legal prohibition of certain drugs. If it was the public’s best interest driving these laws, they would be about trying to either eliminate or minimize the harm from the abuse of drugs. Instead, drug policy is driven by drug companies who promote oxycodone and the like but successfully lobby to prohibit drugs we can grow for ourselves. All while the government gets drunk on revenue from selling and taxing liquor, which results in alcohol being glorified while cannabis has been demonized.

If the government knew more than we do, if they had the public’s interest at heart, if a drug had no potential benefits, and if  just because the government said so no one would use the bad drug, then maybe it would be a good idea to prohibit such a drug. But none of that is true. Prohibition increases the demand and makes drug abuse issues worse.

There are no good or bad drugs, just good or bad relationships with drugs. Still the bigger issue is that, because our government’s policies are driven by protecting private interests instead of balancing evidence-based policies with respecting individual rights and freedoms, we end up with policies that are resulting in major harm at great cost to the taxpayers. Worse yet, these laws make no sense, which causes great disrespect for governments, police, and good laws.

How many times have police stopped to check to see what people are smoking? If what they are smoking is commercial tobacco, it’s all good — even though that drug is responsible for millions of deaths annually worldwide. On the other hand, if what they are smoking is cannabis, then they are committing a crime and can be subjected to considerable harm — not from the drug, which has never killed anyone and has been used as medicine for centuries, but from the police and the courts.

How many times, if police had not stopped to harass smokers, could they have instead used that time to prevent actual violence or property damage?

This is why continued cannabis prohibition is the most obvious and glaring example of how our world is upside down and we are very much not free.