How Stimulants Play a Central Role in Daily Life.
The topic of stimulants and recreational use of certain plants in today's society is hotly debated - yet it is frequently poorly understood by those who discuss it. The attitudes presented tend to be a confused mesh of prejudice and ignorance. The main reason for this confusion is the arbitrary terminology and the corresponding stigmatisation, along with social attitudes derived from the environment we live in.
The truth is that the segregated differences between plants are often rather narrow, while the actual nature of a plant is much more fluid and broad. A common kitchen variety of a plant, such as celery for example can be either a vegetable (roots or stems) or a herb used for flavouring (seeds, leaves). However, used in the correct way it can also be a medicinal agent. It simply comes down to how it is applied.
In the case of stimulants we first have to define the terminology. Generally speaking it is any agent that affects the central nervous system in some way (psychoactive). But this could include just about any plant, as all plants affect consciousness directly or indirectly. Normally the type of plants classified as stimulants are strong drugs, inebriants, which bring to mind illegal drugs used by those we like to declare as 'social degenerates'. Yet, these types of plants should properly be classified as medicinal plants since all of them also have powerful medicinal properties. Stimulants can be addictive - and they can also be found in just about anybody's kitchen cupboard -- the most common stimulants are plants such as coffee, tea, sugar, cocoa and tobacco. In fact, more people are addicted to sugar, coffee and tobacco than any other substances in history.
The social role of stimulants is not just to provide energy or mental fuel. Rather, they directly impact the social fabric of our society. Stimulant use is often ritualized and as such performs some specific social function, such as gratification or reward, or joining one's associated social group, confirming social bonds and reinforcing social status. The Japanese tea ceremony represents just one extreme, where the ceremony itself and all the little innuendos and gestures that go with it are far more significant than the actual brew itself.
If you find these ideas a little too far out, just try to participate in such a ritualized stimulant sharing without actually partaking of the same substance, e.g. going out to the tavern with a drinking crowd without drinking any alcohol. Or, try abstaining from all such stimulants for a period of perhaps 6 months and observe the mental changes that will set you socially apart from your environment.
Stimulants affect everybody's life, one way or another, though mostly it happens unconsciously. Many social changes could be affected globally if we chose to deal with this topic in a more conscious way. But who wants to start the day without their beloved cup o' Joe or spot of tea? And what would we do without that soothing candy bar or sugar jolt to help us through the day? Stimulants can be and are a positive part of daily life. Used intelligently and caefully, they can enhance our awareness, engage our senses, and activate our natural vitality.
©2007 4 Organics
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