They’re only in it for the “sacraments”

I live in Humboldt County, also known as the Emerald Triangle because of it’s long history of cannabis cultivation. Marijuana is probably one of, if not the biggest cash crop we produce here. Since the passage of the proposition 215 legalizing the possession and growing of marijuana as long as you had a prescription from a doctor, growing dope has become rampant. There are grow houses all over the county and dispensaries are open for business.   In other words, it’s part of the culture up here now and city councils are taking up the issue in their meetings. They are leaning towards supporting the legalization of pot because of the tax revenue and the lower crime rate they envision if it’s no longer criminal.

All of that information is given as a background to the following conversations in the car.

My daughter and I both like reggae. Not just Bob Marley reggae but old school as well, Toots and the Maytals, Jimi Cliff, and of course Bob Marley and the Wailers. We were listening to her iPod while waiting in the drive-thru line at Starbucks when some Bob Marley came on. It was ‘’No Woman No Cry”, a song most folks have heard. We talked about how this was the one song that most white people (we being of that persuasion ourselves) know and sing along to. However, they only know the two choruses: No woman no cry, No woman no cry and of course: Everything’s gonna be alright…. you get the picture.

We talked about why these middle to upper class folks loved reggae or at least the idea of it. But they don’t seem to really understand the background of the music and it’s religious significance. They like the “groovy” of it and they can “feel the pain of the down trodden” but they don’t always seem to respect it. They wear the pretty rainbow clothes and sway to the music at Reggae on the River and just enjoy the “vibes”.

The younger folks are also in there, with their dreadlocks, Rasta hats and groovy hemp clothing. But lets face it, what they really love about reggae is the sacraments. They love the whole one love, peace and groovyness that comes with their perception of what reggae is. And most of all, they like to partake in the sacraments.

She and I talked a lot about what these folks are often missing. They are often missing the fact that this music comes out of poverty, strife and oppression. The “sacraments” actually have a religious element to them in that Rastafarian is actually a religion or faith.  Why do these people, who let’s face it, are usually of the Caucasian persuasion flock to this music and more so this culture? Is it a dissatisfaction with their own roots, a desire to empathize with those less fortunate than themselves or is it really just the sacraments…

We never really come to a conclusion in these discussions but tend to lean toward the lack of an interesting “white” culture and the sacraments. And I’m sure some of it is just love for the sounds and the vibe they get from reggae. Perhaps we’ll never know why the are drawn to it.

For us, it’s a love of the music, not the sacraments (or at least from my perspective it’s not the sacraments). I’ve been listening to reggae music since I was in high school, some 36 years now. I think I was drawn to the power of the words and the pain in the music. They were underdogs and were standing up for themselves and their futures. So perhaps I am not so different from those others, we love it for out own reasons. I just don’t pretend to be down with the brothers and sisters because I can never truly know their experiences. I can empathize and support the cause in my own small way…

We may not solve the worlds problems in these conversations in the car, but we can get a better understanding of each other and that really, is what life’s all about.


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