Central Europe. The Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, etc. All countries whose inhabitants are today and every day convinced by their political representation that they are the true island of democracy, humanity, empathy, law and justice. Conversely, the same political representation presents them to other countries as the greatest hotbed of intolerance, oppression, dictation and utter injustice.
We are reminded of the times of lack of freedom under the swastika and the red star, when a man who had a different opinion than the official one ended up in prisons, concentration camps, gas chambers or an execution wall. And right away, it is added that nothing like this can and will never be repeated in the height of love, understanding and tolerance that our states are supposed to be. We are told that we are areas of law and justice, and that even the laws that restrict our rights are designed to prevent unreasonable intolerance, violence and injustice against ethnic and religious minorities, or against groups of people who profess opinions other than the official ones, but which do not harm others in any way, and so no one has the right to turn them away from their opinions and actions by force, or otherwise persecute them.
But how is it really?
I recently received the February issue of a Slovak magazine "Earth and age". It is a geopolitical and cultural monthly that presents its readers with a wide range of stories, thoughts and opinions to think about. And there, on page 62, I was able to read an article by Mr. Ján Urban "Confession of a convict". The story of a young boy. For obvious reasons, his name is not mentioned in that article, so I will call him Martin, for example.
Martin was fifteen then. A big fan of hockey and also an active hockey player, a student of a sports grammar school. A boy who had his whole life ahead of him, and it could have been a nice life. He learned happily and well. And he was looking forward to going to college after graduating from high school. Then someone either cracked him or had other bad luck. They just found some cannabis on him on some stimulus. He himself never wandered in the classrooms or corridors of the school in any way. And he didn't even wander anywhere in the streets. Nor was it a dealer standing at a primary school and inviting little kids to "one hit." Nevertheless, he was immediately expelled from school, ended up in court and given a suspended sentence.
Well, with the propaganda of a foolish parent, with the help of a psychiatrist, who probably didn't even know about the fact that it was a green plant, they made sure that he started treating addiction to so-called marijuana.
Martin didn't quite understand what was going on. It's true that sometimes he and his friends took a few "pills" from the joint, but that was all. Nevertheless, the medical community of the institute decided to get the presumed addiction from it, even if it had to kill it. They gave him strong drugs to suppress his withdrawal symptoms, which he did not have. After a few days of using them, he was completely done. And it went so far that he couldn't even swallow his own saliva.
After the "treatment" he was discharged. On the advice of his parents and friends, he attended another high school, but his will and motivation were there. His head was flooded with thoughts of the horror he had to go through, thanks to his parents, a stupid psychiatrist, and professors with the thinking of medieval priests. But he knew from experience that cannabis could compare confused thoughts. That he can suppress anger, self-pity and aggression, and that thanks to him he can look at everything from another side. As if from the outside.
He was sixteen when everything went awry again. This time he was not "revealed" by his teacher, but somewhere outside by a police officer. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe some "friend" worked again, and maybe he was just an excellent and easy target for a zamindraked "hero" in a police uniform, who added a few positive points to his evaluation. And this time, the machinery of the Middle Ages was in full swing.
Martin was immediately taken into custody in handcuffs. He was only allowed to be taken out of the cell under very strict supervision once every twenty-four hours, for one hour. There were always two in the cell. Thieves and thugs raided and robbed defenseless people. Many of them could neither read nor write, so Martin read their letters from their family or, on the contrary, wrote them letters. He was in that cell for half a year. Then he got a choice. Either he signs an agreement on guilt and punishment, and agrees to continue using the drugs, and gets "only" three years in prison. Or he won't sign it and will be in the base for seven years.
I remind you again that I am still writing here about a sixteen-year-old boy. About a boy who didn't do anything to anyone. He didn't attack anyone. He did not beat anyone or murder anyone. At first he just wanted to know why those who drink alcohol every day and burn their beaks with cigarette smoke every day forbid him from trying anything else. To try a plant that people have used for their health practically all the time they have existed on this planet, and under whose influence no one has ever attacked, harmed, or killed anyone. Unlike the alcohol that practically everyone he knew poured into himself. This includes many legislators, who, probably in order to be able to pass even better laws than they have managed to produce so far, stumble around the Chamber of Deputies on uncertain feet and with a glassy look on their faces.
The idea of seven years in prison was awful. And so he signed an agreement on guilt and punishment, and on the continued use of drugs, he signed.
He was placed in the juvenile ward and had two murderers in the cell. He behaved in an exemplary manner in prison. He volunteered for some voluntary events, read and practiced. Then he got an offer to do an apprenticeship. It was not a dream sports grammar school and sports-oriented university. But Martin was well aware that there would never be anything without education, so he accepted.
After serving three quarters of his sentence, he was released on parole. He was nineteen years old. He did not wait for anything and immediately went abroad. And as he himself writes, "I resented my homeland and I never plan to return."
He also writes that today he lives in a country where cannabis is decriminalized, and where people's attitudes towards cannabis are diametrically different from those in Slovakia. So it is definitely not in the Czech Republic.
Fifteen years. The age of the search for one's own "I". Age of trial and error. An age of defiance, the first great loves, and a desperate search for truth. Age of gradual rebirth of a child into an adult.
We all went through it. We like to remember many of that time, and there are things we would like to forget. It is an age of great need for love, tolerance and understanding, even though none of us realized it like that at the time.
Like all young people his age, Martin was looking for answers to things he didn't understand. To which he received conflicting answers. And to which no one from his surroundings, by which I mean his parents, friends and professors of his school, could reasonably answer him.
A physically and mentally healthy fifteen-year-old boy doesn't need stupid slogans calling for a bright tomorrow for his life, and some stupid templates for his thinking without a reasonable basis. He is opposed to him following the orders of adults, with whom he sees on a daily basis that they themselves are breaking some other orders, prohibitions and laws. Yes, even young people his age need their role model. And even though it doesn't seem like a lot to them, in the vast majority of cases they look for positive patterns. But there was probably no such person around him.
I don't know who was the first to offer Martin a cannabis test. But it doesn't matter that much. Just as we all once tried our first cigarette, first beer or a glass of harder alcohol, today a lot of young people want to try cannabis. Why? Well, why did we try our first cigarette? Or the first glass of alcohol? After all, because it was forbidden. And it wasn't just because we wanted to look more mature and manly in front of the girls. We also wanted to know why we were forbidden to do so. And so we tried. Did all of us become notorious alcoholics because of that? Or do we all have to smoke a few packs of cigarettes a day?
If it wasn't cannabis but cigarette when Martin was first caught, it would probably have happened to absolutely nothing. And once he came to school under the influence of alcohol, it would probably be resolved by a note, an interview with his parents, and perhaps, in the worst case, a principal reprimand. But because it was cannabis, which neither the professors, nor the parents, nor the police, nor the judges know anything about, so they simply decided to destroy the boy. I confess that when I read Martin's story for the first time, at the end of it, I just missed the rampage of a gang of churches of trained exorcists who would start the process of exorcising the devil. Just the Middle Ages as embroidered.
At the end of his talk, Martin says: "I still don't understand what I was wrong with. I never stole anything, I wasn't aggressive, I didn't hurt anyone. I just lit a cigarette tonight. Either alone or with friends. …. I don't understand why anyone is so upset that they can put a child in jail with thieves and murderers. " And he's probably not alone. Because only a poor man who invented this crap can understand something like that.
Today, Martin is somewhere in the world. He probably doesn't have a very good job yet, because he lacks education. That's why he enrolls in various courses to at least catch up. Maybe he'll make it.
Maybe now some will say that something like this can only happen in Slovakia. I would like to remind these mockers of the case of Mrs Márie Brodská from Rožďalovice. The case of an old lady who had no synthetic medicines and ointments from pharmacies on her very sore legs. So every year she grew a flower of cannabis and turned it into an ointment, which then helped perfectly. Although the judge repeatedly acquitted the lady, the prosecutor decided not to leave it at that. He filed more and more lawsuits, until with his constantly recurring attacks he drove her to suicide at the beginning of May 2012.
Rožďálovice is nowhere in Slovakia. They are located just a short distance from Prague. In a country that we are so happy and so proud to say is the heart of Europe. Can we really be proud of everything that happens here?