There’s a saying in writing, “Meet the reader where they are and take them someplace they’ve never been.” The same goes for the dark art of persuasion. No one wants to be talked at, made to feel stupid, judged, pitied, reduced or any of the other adjectives that result in conversational gridlock.
Psychedelics can change the way we see things, but so can our framing of the drugs themselves. Are you talking to kids about psychedelics? Your local pastor? Your aging hippie parents? Depending on the audience, you should use a different frame. Scratch beneath the broad topic of psychedelics and provocative conversations about freedom, spirituality and even Christmas await.
Below are a few points you can bring up with a range of humans, all of them different in their perception of reality, all the same in their ability to be swayed. (Ninja shit.)
Your Conservative Uncle
“Hi Lars! Thanksgiving again? Wow, it seems to happen every year. I noticed your American Eagle ‘FREEDOM’ hat. Cool design, are those flames trailing the powerful bird?
That reminds me, don’t you hate it when the government tries to limit your freedom? I’m with it, Lars. In fact, I’ll take it one step further—I believe that any sentient being should have the freedom to access any state of consciousness they choose—so long as they're not harming another.
As I'm sure you know, this country is in a real mental health crisis. There’s a lot of research coming out about psilocybin mushrooms helping to alleviate depression. Meanwhile, MDMA is being hailed as a breakthrough treatment for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Here, let me text you this article from The New York Times.
Oh, you don’t read liberal fake news?
That’s fine, here's an article from Breitbart making the same argument.”
Your Aging Hippie Parents
“Mom, Dad! Christmas again? Wow, it seems to happen every year. Remember when you two dropped acid at Woodstock in 1969 and came to the epiphany that Joan Baez was God?
That was so irresponsible!
What were you two thinking? First of all, if any Woodstock musician is God, it’s obviously Hendrix. And second of all, taking psychedelics can be dangerous. They make your brain highly suggestible and amplify thought patterns. Music festivals have so many unknowns and a ‘bad trip’ is just a dice roll away. If you want to maximize the benefit and minimize the risk, you should only take psychedelics in a safe environment with someone you trust—a comfy living room with fluffy pillows, or while having a picnic on a grassy knoll.
Would I have dropped acid at Woodstock?
Of course, but that’s not the point, Mom!
The point is your generation was too lax about psychedelics. Then, Timothy Leary proclaimed that psychedelics should be put in the water and Nixon instituted sweeping bans. Decades of research was stifled! Now we have a chance to bring psychedelics back into culture and educate people about their danger, potential and proper use.
Dad, you like hammers right? You even said they're your ‘spirit tool.’ Psychedelics are a lot like hammers. They have many uses, but some are more productive than others. Sure, you can use a hammer to play Stump, but you could use it to build a house.”
Your Sober Co-Worker
"Theodore, I love your beige shirt.
Hey, remember when you told me that alcohol is the devil's saliva? Well, did you know that Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, believed that psychedelics could facilitate the spiritual experience he believed was necessary for a successful recovery? This was contradictory to AA's abstinence-only program, so Wilson stayed quiet about his beliefs, which is why you probably never heard about it.
But, thanks to the renaissance in psychedelic research, studies have shown that psilocybin mushrooms can reduce cravings among alcoholics.
Let's get a drink sometime, Theo … a drink of ayahuasca."
Your Local Pastor
"Jonathan, Merry Christmas indeed my good lad. Hey, did you know that psychedelics may be responsible for Christmas? Yeah, way before our boy JC showed up on the scene, Siberian shaman celebrated the winter solstice by sledding around town and offering Amanita muscaria, a magic mushroom, to people in the village. They dressed in red and white robes to honor the spotted, red mushrooms. It's cold as balls up in Siberia and snow would often block the entrance to their warm dwellings, so they would climb through the top. Oh, and Amanita muscaria grow at the base of pine trees … what a gift.
Merry Christmas, Jonathan."
Go Forth, Young Ones
Now that you're armed with these conversation starters, try 'em out. Culture changes one person at a time, and even if it's a little uncomfortable, give it your best shot. Ask questions. Get curious. Lighthearted discussion is the first step to connection and understanding.
And those are two qualities that are core to the psychedelic experience.
Kyle Thiermann is MUD\WTR's head of editorial, and the host of the :macrodose episodes of the Trends w/ Benefits Podcast. He also hosts The Kyle Thiermann Show.
Header image by Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash.
Read more: Talking to Kids About Psychedelics
Read more: Communication is KeyRead more: Why We’re (Still) Taking a Stand for Psychedelics