Greg Kasarik

"Act with Empathy"
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Don't Do It!!!

At the outset, I should say that if you don't wish this action to go ahead, I am not the person to be speaking to. The person you should be contacting is the one who has decided that my religious freedoms, and those of thousands of other Victorians are not worth protecting.

When you write to the Premier, there is no reason to say that you use these compounds, although I would hope that you would have the courage to mention this if it were the case. We have spent enough time lying about who we are. 

If you want to know what to say, just read through some of my writings and feel free to cut and paste as much as you like. The important thing is that Ted begins to understand the impact he is having on people, not that each letter is a work of literary art.  

The Premier of Victoria, Mr Ted Baillieu, can be contacted thusly:

Ministerial Office
Address Level 1, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, VIC

Phone (03) 9651 5000

Fax (03) 9651 5054

Email Address

I will happily call this action off if Ted Baillieu and his government demonstrate that they are willing to take concrete steps that will result in regulated access to Transcendent Compounds for religious and spiritual purposes within a reasonable time frame.     

Much of what I say here is intended for people who are generally supportive of drug law reform, but who don't believe that this action is the way to go. Some may already be members of the Entheogenic Community while others might be in favour of drug law reform, but may be unaware that this issue even existed. 

I know that there will be many people who will be reluctant to support my efforts. Some will dislike the fact that I am a mystic and fear that I am trying to set up some sort of “cult”. There isn’t really much that I can say to this, except perhaps that you read my writings, particularly The Principles. Setting myself up as a prophet who must be obeyed, guru, or gatekeeper is an anathema to me. At the heart of the philosophy contained within The Principles, is that Uncertainty is the only thing that we can ever be certain of and that each person can only figure out the world for themselves and no-one else. There is simply no point in my trying to tell you what to believe. 

Others will dislike the fact that I am only lobbying for regulated access for Transcendent Compounds for religious purposes. They might prefer that I campaigned for all Entheogens, or perhaps even the legalisation of all drugs. This will not happen. I have chosen a path that reflects my beliefs and values and have no intention of compromising it. Certainly, I support regulation of cannabis, MDMA and many other compounds, but that is a different discussion for a different day.

Others might believe that there are better and more productive things to do than to starve one’s self in the middle of the CBD (I'm open to suggestions by the way). They might regard this as some sort of "acting out", or attempt at self harm. Nothing could be further from the truth. This duration of this hunger strike has been limited at the outset to no more than 35 days. There is absolutely no risk of my starving to death within that timeframe. Certainly, I am risking physical harms normally associated with starvation for that length of time, but this pales in comparison to the harms done to myself and others by the uncertainty of our legal position and our status as mere "druggies". It might be particularly bloody minded of me, but I don't see the point of doing something like this unless there is at least some chance of harm.

I certainly understand the apprehension that many in the entheogenic community might have towards my decision to carry on with the hunger strike later this year. Fairly much everyone that I speak to is convinced that things will never change and that such an obviously quixotic campaign is doomed from the start.
I am not content to spend my life in an Entheogenic ghetto. I don’t believe in passively sitting by in the hope that things might change "someday". Rather, I recognise that there is now an opportunity for change and that the time to act is now. All the ducks are in a row in terms of Government, electoral cycle, the main points of law and even the Zeitgeist.  
It might surprise people that a conservative government would be likely to change a policy such as this, but the truth is that a conservative government is the only one that will be able to make this stick. However, a progressive government would easily find itself being labelled "soft on drugs" and would become a victim of a determined campaign by reactionary media elements. However, if these changes are implemented by a conservative government, there is no real place for disgruntled conservative voters to go, particularly in a two party preferred, preferential voting system. It could be argued that the current Labor Government would try that tactic, but it is not as likely to succeed, as they were the ones who fought for and introduced the Charter in the first place and they'd look like hypocrites if they dropped it at the first sign of political opportunity. 

In addition, I believe that Premier Ted Baillieu is a person who we can work with to achieve this change. It may surprise some, but I more often vote conservative than not, and I was a member of the Liberal Party for a number of years. My branch was in his seat, and although I haven't seen him since 2006, we had a number of interesting conversations over the years. He always struck me as a decent person who has a genuine concern for the welfare of all Victorians and who would try to do the right thing (of course, one could always argue that I was only talking to the politician and never the person). Unfortunately, he is on the record as having been staunchly "anti-drug" (outlawing bongs anyone?), but with the changing attitude and more vocal opposition to current drugs policy by Australia 21, the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association and even the Law Institute of Victoria, I am optimistic that he will be inclined to moderate his position. I'm not confident about the rest of his parliamentary colleagues, some of who seem quite feral and fundamentalist indeed. 
In Victoria, we are now two years away from the next election, which means that there is ample time for regulated access to be legislated and for people to realise that it isn't the end of the world. Wait another year and the government will be in electoral mode and very unlikely to take the "risk" of granting us our religious and spiritual freedoms. 
I have already indicated that the Charter grants us the religious freedoms we need in order to force this as an issue of law as well as good public policy and respect for fundamental human rights. However, the Charter is a law and laws can always be changed. That some changes to the law will be made is made certain by the recent review of the legislation. While the current Victorian Government indicated that they wouldn't gut the legislation, this could easily change should the more bigoted and ignorant members of parliament and the community bring pressure to bear. Wait another year and the legal arguments could vanish entirely. 
The year is 2012 and hopes of change bought on the wings of an ancient calendar are filling the air as we approach December 21 and Terrance McKenna's dream of global reawakening. This Zeitgeist is ready to be harnessed and transformed into action that will reverberate down the generations and lay the foundations for the sort of tolerant, diverse and spiritually aware society that we want to live in. Wait another year and 2012 will be yet another apocalypse that failed (2000 anyone?) and many might be too disillusioned to act (at least until 2024, when I predict that someone else will predict that the world will end...).
Some people might argue that I should wait for more science. That if we only wait a little bit longer, somehow reason and evidence will sway the political class to our side. Not.Bloody.Likely. Over six decades of research has demonstrated that Transcendent Compounds are some of the safest in the world and a few more isolated papers isn’t going to change this. More importantly, in my discussions with politicians, I have never once been asked for any scientific literature, or evidence to support my claims. They don't care about evidence, even as they don't understand science. They only care about votes and voters don't care about us - Yet!
Some might think that we don't even need to do anything. That when the time is right (eg. 2012, or the stellar alignment of the sun, Energiser Bunny and Pluto – dog, or planetoid, take your pick) the global consciousness will shift and everyone will start begging us for our collective wisdom. This I doubt. Wishful thinking has never built a bridge and the only "Secret" is hard work, effort and sacrifice.
Either we act, or we accept the fact that we have condemned ourselves to live in a world where we scurry around like cockroaches, forever waiting to get squished. Some people might be resigned to this and might resent my efforts to squirm out from under the boot, but I find the current situation entirely unsatisfactory. 
Many forget that change is what defines the very passage of time. Things can change! Things will change! And it is within our power to determine the course of that change. 
I believe that it is no accident that the Victorian Government hasn't moved against me thus far. It might just be that I am too insignificant to be bothered with, but I suspect that they know full well that the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act makes it unlikely that they can win in an unbiased court. They also know that by doing nothing, they keep me boxed in by legal uncertainty. 
We in the broader Entheogenic community are in the same place as the GLBT community was forty years ago. If it weren't for those initial few with the courage and tenacity to challenge the system they would still be locked up, beaten and discriminated against. Decades later, I honestly don't think that there is much different in our situation, except for the fact that religious freedom is already an excepted part of the modern democratic, multicultural society and that in Victoria we already have the laws on our side. 
Just as with the GLBT movement needed Stonewall to more fully catalyse them into action, so too does the broader Entheogenic community need a spark. I might not be that spark , but the current situation is untenable. Tens of thousands of Australians live in fear and paranoia to one degree or another. Lies are continually being told, truths concealed and dishonesty with the outside world abounds. None of us are free and this is no way to live.
I am determined to raise the issue of Transcendent Compounds in the public eye. For years, I have listened to people complain that the politicians lack the courage to do the “right thing” with respect to drug law reform; that they should recognise our rights to live our lives as we see fit. But why would they have that courage if we are so lacking in it ourselves? Without public awareness of our plight, nobody will ever bother to lift a finger to support us. How could they, when they don’t even know? We are the only ones who can tell our story. We are the only ones who can make ourselves heard.
We need to get our message out into the public arena. I don't have the resources to engage in the sort of campaign that I would like to run. A hunger strike is a good way of generating cheap (if sensationalist) publicity and quickly raising awareness of the issue within the public domain. If I am correct, the combination of a hunger strike, religious freedom and “drugs” will make this action impossible for the media to resist. 
Even if unsuccessful in achieving its stated aims, it would also generate publicity and funds that can be used to conduct an ongoing effort to continue broadening public awareness.
Nothing says "this is serious", like voluntary starvation. In going down this path, I can cut through much of the bullshit and force the Government to confront the issues on my turf. Sure, they can obfuscate, and I am certain that the media will support them in their lies, but my message is both simple and focused: " Transcendent Compounds are non addictive, non toxic and psychologically safe". It makes for a terrific sound bite and wouldn't look to bad on a billboard either!

So in response to those in the Entheogenic Community who would counsel caution in this matter, I would recall Benjamin Franklin’s words during the American Revolution: “we must all hang together or we shall most assuredly all hang separately”. Similarly, I would also

While it might be that my action is not everyone’s preferred course, I would hope that we all would see the wisdom in supporting any action that promotes our cause and raises public awareness of our plight. It seems to me that one of the things that we don’t do well as a community is support others in their various efforts. Indeed, I can’t claim to be entirely guilt free of this myself. If I am successful, it will give others the opportunity to build on what I have achieved. Even if I fail to achieve my immediate aims, the publicity and public discussion generated should give ample opportunity to those who wish to mobilise and advance the course in other ways.

If I end up being a lone voice in the wilderness, then we can all forget about meaningful change within our lifetimes. If I demand that the Government change, but there is nobody to stand beside me, then they will only laugh at any future efforts to achieve reform and may very well see an opportunity to be rid of us all.

There are undoubledly those who will resent my presumption for effectively deciding to act unilaterally on behalf of an entire community, but the truth is that I act as much for myself as I do for you, and if it must be that I act alone, then so be it. To quote Hillel the Elder, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?". 

When I was a soldier, I would have gladly put my life on the line for things that others held dear. What kind of a man would I be if I wasn't prepared to do the same for things that I hold dear?


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