How many remember Soul to Soul’s ‘Back to Life’ hit of 1989? The classic tune and mesmerizing beats have had fans moving and crooning every time it comes through the air waves. The lyrics may not have been as strong as the beats of the song but they contain some strong lines that speak to certain aspects of today’ popular culture – ‘…Back to life, back to the present time, back from a fantasy…’ Consider these lines too – ‘Back to life back to the day we have, Let’s end this foolish game, Hear me out don’t let me waste away, Make up your mind so I know where I stand…’
The song-writers, Nellee Hooper, Richard Beresford, Carl Wheeler and Simon Law were not direct participants in the #EndSARS phenomenon. They were in a different generation and wrote about two realities: one past and a different one at the time of writing the song.
Yet if we consider the fact that much of the mayhem that followed the peaceful protests was carried out by persons suspected to have what is called a marijuana-induced reality, as against the reality on the ground, we might pay more attention to those specific lines. That is, those persons who unleashed untold mayhem and vandalism on the rest of society are suspected to have yielded their important faculties to marijuana and the drug had created various distorted views for them.
The medicinal use of marijuana has not been disputed. It contains chemicals that are useful for the body when used appropriately under medical supervision but when constantly used for simply recreational purposes, marijuana is not a healthy substance. It distorts reality. Blurring it and could make a user ‘see men as trees walking.’ It could even make users think they can do anything. They could believe they are the most powerful, the strongest or the greatest. Or whatever other distortion that comes to them. The key point is frequent marijuana use makes the user less sober and alert than he/she otherwise should be. This is the verdict of the countless research over time.
Frequent Recreational marijuana use takes users away from the present time into worlds of fantasies and make-belief. The possibilities inherent in that construct is at the heart of why marijuana trade is big business. People love escapes. And dreamworlds. Especially if the familiar reality is saturated by anxiety, headaches and pains. Loneliness, joblessness, hunger, disappointments, or just plain old curiosity, are some conditions that heighten the temptation to embrace an invitation to an alternative reality.
Psychiatrists and behaviourists sometimes speak of avoidance-avoidance tendencies among persons who do not like to face conflicts headlong.
Some of the young persons in Nigeria suspected to have embraced the marijuana-induced reality, live on the streets, with all kinds of broken dignities, personalities and dreams; they suffer loneliness, joblessness, and other ‘deprivations.’ For them marijuana is a gateway to another world, a ‘better’ world than what they have known. There are even those who have accommodation but who have ‘suffered’ the same fate as those living on the streets.
To give these persons an alternative to a marijuana-induced reality is an urgent and important challenge for everyone who appreciates the deeper implications of having an important segment of the population embrace a ‘false reality.’ Their task is to ‘end the foolish game and not let them waste away,’ using robust, effective and sustained engagement.