Oregon provides the most lovely settings and beautiful landscapes for enjoying life in the whole natural world. Most of America is a feast for the eyes of those fortunate enough to live here.

What causes me considerable wonder is why so many Oregonians, and other Americans throughout our land, find it necessary to alter their consciousness through use of drugs, some legal like alcohol and marijuana, and others still illegal, like cocaine and heroin. Most Americans got along very well without those drugs in former times and, without them, were not risking their health and very own lives, and the lives of others who “get in their way,” because reality’s too much or not enough for them.

One concludes that the ability to cope with life’s ups and downs, its disappointments from time to time, appears to have encouraged a loss of courage to face trials and errors among so many of us. Why do they not dig in to the free public education available to them, grades one through 12?  What is it that along the way stops them from seeking work of most any kind, including volunteer work to get started by trying this and that, so that they can learn how to work and thereby acquire a measure of self-respect and self-confidence: conditions of mind growth and development to serve them through the hard times rather than mind-warping drugs followed by thievery, homelessness or prison confinement, loss of self-respect, hope and the throwing away of life’s possibilities.

Another means of avoiding reality —and the true beauty of that which abounds around us—is the ever more availability of augmented-reality devices. Since the evolution of our species, humankind has looked about his and her environment in wonder and awe, the earliest of our species blessed by a beautiful planet. More and more now, Americans find it necessary to strap on a helmet with viewing glasses to see things that are not there but can be seen by the eye-to-brain to believe they are real, providing what’s fiction as though fact.

It’s hard to fathom that my fellow humans want a machine to drive their car or truck!  The freedom of the open road and the thrill of driving a car that a human can control has been among the most rewarding of life experiences for me. It comes across as so mindless that someone would want to give up negotiating a machine with a steering wheel and the ability to maneuver it when sober. Instead, they’d rather just sit there and most likely play games incessantly with their cell phone, iPad, etc., for the purpose of mindless satisfactions without enduring value or reward

Obviously, Americans in large numbers send their brains nowadays into dizzy daydreaming by drugs while surrendering their lives and the real world around them to a space of pretend life.

Instead of doing things with their hands and whole bodies that keep them physically fit and mentally healthy, they choose instead the latest drug or technological device ultimately delivering members of our species to empty vessels.  Go out in public anywhere now and view an anesthetized world: A collection of wires, plug-ins and plastic hand-held devices devoid of humanity.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)