Last year saw a 15% rise in executions around the world, although these stats from Amnesty International do not include China, which kills more people than all the other countries combined, so the figures are not really indicative of the total scope of violence.
Thirty-nine people were executed in the USA alone, putting us fifth on the list of barbaric states, of which only 22 are left on earth. All but one of our executions was done by lethal injection, which involves a sedative, followed by a paralyzing agent and then a heart stopper. (In recent history, the most executions occurred when Bill Clinton was President. Although remembered as somewhat compassionate, as Paul Krassner pointed out on Abakus the other day, Clinton stopped off to view the execution of a mentally damaged person on the way to his own own coronation, which is a really bizarre way to start a major ceremony unless, of course, it’s the dark side you’re worshipping.)
Here are the top five in order of kills: China (unknown); Iran (369); Iraq (160); Saudi Arabia (79); United States (39). Probably the most horrifying execution last year was Iranian peace poet Hashem Shaabani, hanged after five months of torture in which he was made to confess to many outrageous lies when his real crime was producing a peace festival and publishing poems critical of the ruling regime.
I believe 420 should be a ceremony of peace, simply because pot is the sacrament of peace culture and always has been, which is why you find spiritual cultures attached to it whenever you find the plant. If you make 420 about getting stoned, that leaves out all the people who no longer wish to get intoxicated, or who have a problem with intoxication. But if you make 420 about peace and respecting non-violence, then everyone is invited to attend.
Violence has been on the decline in most of the civilized world for centuries, but in the USA we have a problem with it. And we also have a lot of victims suffering from PTSD, most of whom do not have access to the best possible medicine for that disorder, which, of course, is cannabis. But when you hold ceremonies of peace, they help heal that PTSD. This is the spiritual-medicine connection Western science has been slow to pick up on. And you don’t have to be a victim of violent crime or even a soldier returning from the front to have PTSD. You can get it from playing violent video games and watching violent media content all day long for months, while popping ritalin and Prozac.
So when you think about your 420 ceremony this year, why not have a moment of silence for the thousands of people executed last year, and maybe put out a prayer the last 22 barbaric nations on earth will surrender the practice of murdering their own citizens? And maybe even another prayer that a future generation will emerge to turn against all the violence programming that’s been fed to our kids for the last fifty years.