How Ugly Casinos Are Good For Cultural Transformation
I want to talk about Casinos today. But it will ultimately tie into drugs. (Yay, gambling and drugs!).
And I think you will soon see why…
I recently went on a road trip to Montana, which has looser gambling laws. As we drove through several cities I noticed that there was a casino on just about every street corner.
It was disconcerting.
Now, I’m an advocate of freedom, so I fundamentally oppose gambling laws (see why here).
If people want to gamble their money away, they should have the right to do so. We do not have the right to tell them how to live their lives.
That being said, I didn’t like seeing all those casinos.
It Was Casinos Galore
Not only where most of them ugly, it reminded me of the poor choices people were making (and the people making them).
In every one of those casinos I imagined some lonely soul in sweat pants sitting at a slot machine who had probably been there since the night before.
If you’ve ever been to a casino, then you know what I’m talking about.
It is sad.
And so many casinos made the area less attractive.
Thus, I was in conflict. On one side I had my philosophy telling me that gambling should be legal.
On the other side, I didn’t like seeing so many casinos!
I was kind of thankful for the gambling laws back home because they kept our city cleaner.
Then it struck me.
This is exactly what I describe when I talk about drug laws.
Follow my reasoning…
Not A Solution — A Farce
It is evident that gambling laws do not address the real problems that lead to gambling addictions.
Our laws do not stop people from wanting to gamble — which is the real problem.
If you take someone who can’t control their eating and put them in an environment where they can only eat healthy food, they will lose weight.
But as soon as you remove those external controls, they will balloon back out.
Why? Because overeating is a symptom of a deeper internal problem. And external controls do not address that problem.
People want to gamble. And outlawing gambling does not fix that.
It merely imposes an external control when gambling addiction is a symptom of a deeper internal problem.
But gambling laws give us the illusion that we have fixed the problem because we don’t see casinos on every street corner.
When I drove through those casino ridden streets, it made me uncomfortable. Why? I could say it was because Montana had reintroduced a cancer to society.
But that’s not really what it was.
It was because I was now faced with the fact that I had been living in an illusion.
The relaxed gambling laws of Montana allowed me to see society for what it really was.
And the fact that there was such a large market for casinos revealed a lot.
It revealed that these people are broken.
It showed me that society was sicker than I originally thought.
And it meant that people in my hometown were probably just as broken, but I couldn’t see it because of our laws.
I now saw that my make-believe world was a lie. A deception. A self-imposed choice to see reality different than it really was.
And that was uncomfortable (as it always is).
It is like getting news from your doctor that you have lung cancer.
Just 10 minutes before, you were living a lie. That lie said you were healthy. But then you saw the x-rays with the growths in your lungs.
You can’t change the fact that you have cancer. Choosing to ignore the x-rays does nothing.
Believing that our gambling laws fix the gambling problem is very similar. It would be like tearing up your x-rays and believing that you have cured your cancer.
But, there is hope. Once you know you have cancer, you can fight it.
With the illusion about gambling torn back, we have a chance to fight the real problem: brokenness.
And we have a litmus test. If casinos are legal, then we will know that we are transforming society when they start closing.
It is that simple.
Banning them just hides the problem. It is not a solution.
Gambling and Drugs
Decriminalizing drugs will do the same thing.
We will see higher drug use. We will see stores selling things that destroy lives. And we will be tempted to believe that society is spiraling into darkness.
But our laws are not stopping drug use now. They are just hiding it.
They create a false reality that depicts society as healthier than it really is.
By legalizing drugs, we will see the true health of our society.
And — pun intended — it may be sobering.
But do we really want to live in a lie?
By opening our eyes to what is really going on, we have a chance to address the real issues that lead people to drugs.
And, once again, we will have a litmus test. We will know if we are transforming culture by the size of the drug market.
It is that easy.
On top of the moral reasons for lifting our drug laws (which you can read about here), it will help us affect actual change in the world.
And isn’t that what we are after?
I hope you found this insight as thought provoking as I did.
I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you for reading.
Originally published at www.seanedwards.com on August 21, 2014.
Click here to subscribe to For the New Christian Intellectual.