The thought of the holiday in Greece was fading away. Some years went by, but the problems with Marco were getting worse. We managed to calm down parents’ anger, explaining who Marco was, but the relationship with us and especially with him mother was becoming very difficult, irreconcilable and almost impossible to resolve. Marco was adopted at the age of 8 in Romania. Before then he lived in poor conditions in an orphanage. We were told he attended the second grade at primary school, but the truth was that he did not attend school at all. He didn’t know the letters of the alphabet, he could not name and match colours and he did not have the concept of space and time. Present only existed for him. He was a single mother’s second son. Later she got married and she had three more children. Marco’s older brother left the orphanage and he seemed to have vanished without a trace. His family was very poor and Marco could not make out why his mother kept the three younger children with her, but could not keep him. He went to see her a couple of times and he told us that she had a glazed cupboard with glasses and she even had eggs (basically for him she had everything) but she said she could not manage to keep him at home and it was better for him to be in the orphanage. In such a situation he had a natural attitude, instead of feeling low he developed a very strong negative temper. He did not have anything to lose and, feeling unwanted, he did not trust adults. As a result he refused the concept of authority and cohabitation rules.
As-a-matter-of-fact the first cohabitation rule was violated: a mother refused her son because of the poor economic situation. In fact Marco was – now he has improved – a conceited, arrogant presumptuous, proud, instinctive, reckless and impulsive boy. He reacted first, then he thought it over, he did not have any sense of proportion and he did not take things seriously. This was his way to react to difficulties, he built up his own thick shield, but deep down he was very naïve. On the other hand he was able to show off deep and striking displays of affection. When someone did something wrong to him or punished him, he immediately got upset and became even more withdrawn, but after a few days he was able to forget the whole thing and did not bear any grudges. One of his main problems was the fact that he did not trust anyone, including his parents. He probably kept to himself negative experience and traumas suffered at the orphanage, according to his logic they were either too personal or too painful to share them with someone.
He felt harassed and tormented by constantly being reproached and punished, but he did not realise that he was responsible for that and it is a vicious circle. To this respect he was arrogant and conceited, he took things for granted giving nothing in return. He had the attitude of someone who already lost everything and he had nothing to lose. He seemed not to be afraid of anybody and he faced adults feeling equal to them, appearing arrogant, unpleasant and rude. If he thought he was right, he was not willing to negotiate being totally inflexible. With regards to ordinary things (i.e. two-day suspension from school), even if he was upset he never cried. He only cried if I beat him up or if he is emotionally hurt i.e. when his mother does not talk to him for a few days.
In these past years, given the starting point at school and in regards to his behaviour, he made sufficient progress and he worked really hard. If we turned a blind eye on his grades, we realised that his behavioural problems were the main issue both for him and his teachers. It was not easy to deal with him in the classroom, both for his temper and his poor attention span. He did not have the same vocabulary as the other kids of the same age born in Italy, therefore many terms well known to others, were new to him. Subsequently since he did not understand very well he was very likely to distract himself and then he tended to bother his schoolmates. We realised that it took a great deal of patience and the teachers had already done their very best. We thought that the key to the problems was patience rather than trying to remove the causes of his behaviour. Relationships with classmates and kids of the same age was always difficult, but we believed that this could be considered normal.
Some parents complained about Marco reporting to the teachers that he harassed and touched girls in his classroom, implying some kind of sexual disorders. They did not explicitly say it, but they surely thought of it.
We had to take into account that Marco had previously lived in an environment with girls and boys.
When we met him at the orphanage we could not distinguish boys from girls, because they were all dressed the same way, their heads were all shaved. Therefore he did not have any inhibition in regards to girls. Marco tended to joke a lot using gestures to communicate. His displays of affections or anger could be misunderstood, also given the fact that he is a big lad. In a normal context among boys, if he pushed someone, kids could be report him to parents for aggressive behaviour. In all this there was absolutely nothing ambiguous, and to clear every doubts or perplexities I would like to describe what happened in the 5th grade, relying on your common sense and your confidentiality
A girl in his classroom (exemplary student) gave him a letter in which she masterly invited him to show some affection to her. His behaviour was to bring the letter home and show it to his mother asking her what to he should do.
As you can see in this case, the alleged victim has become the executioner.
My wife and I were very uncompromising with Marco, when necessary we treated him with great harshness imposing punishments that to any adolescent of his age would have caused traumas for months.
Slaps and physical threats had absolutely no effect on him. He never cried unless he was hurt in his pride or feelings.
When he did something wrong he needed to be vigorously reproached, but he cannot stand to be punished for something he did not do at all, or he thought he did not do or he did with others, but he was the only one punished
Therefore we asked his teachers to carefully check and verify if he was to blame, we did realise that this was an additional workload.
An unjust punishment wiped off the work carried out in the previous weeks. We also suggested parents not to literally believe every word their children say, as in the case of the "letter" could have unpleasant surprises. What Marco needed was to trust someone, and as he did not rely on anybody he reacted negatively to any disagreements, in some cases even denying the obvious.
Unfortunately all our efforts were rather useless. We claimed or hoped to make up for the years Marco was abandoned, but whatever we did was to no avail.
Marco was facilitated in every way, regardless his grades in two years he completed the three years of middle school, widening the gap between him and his schoolmates. We justified that with the fact that we wanted him to start his school with students of the same age, being Marco three years behind. The truth was that Marco was a bit of a hot potato and headmasters could not wait to get rid of him. With the wisdom of the hindsight I must admit it was a mistake. When he started high school he clashed with the reality of that world. I can imagine how frustrated and mortified he must have felt when he realised the gap between himself and his schoolmates in terms of grades. It was a lost battle at the start, and he reacted removing everything. The relationship with us got remarkably worse, to the point that he asked to leave our house.
One evening, after a terrible row – he unjustifiably wanted to go out at 11.30 pm – I was forced to call the police, I did not want to lay a hand on him and then be accused of child abuse.
He had some meeting with a social worker, and as he was still determined to leave our house, we decided to send him to a therapeutic community. There were no facilities available in the area, so he was sent to the community at Tuscania. Admission in the community implied two-month internship in the facility at Civitavecchia, then he could be transferred to Tuscania. The impact with the new environment was rather heavy, he thought he got rid of constraints, but he found himself in an environment with very strict operators, where rule compliance was the first commandment. Although our door was open, he did not come back. He did not know how to solve his problems and he even started to hurt himself to draw attention i.e. he hit his head on the wall until he got big bruises, but despite his being stubborn, thanks to the skilled operators, he accepted to carry on with the programme.
The community was about five km from Tuscania: it was an old church with accommodations and necessary facilities for thirty young people. It was surrounded by green areas and it housed boys and girls who previously had drug related problems. Marco was the youngest and he was the only one with behavioural problems. The settling-in phase was ok, he was accepted fairly well because there was a lot of solidarity. He was a bit of a mascot for the group and a beautiful blond girl called him “beautiful hair”. Twice a month they met with the families, following a specific schedule: first there was a meeting with parents and children, then before lunch there was a general meeting with comments and proposals. It was not nice to question yourself at 50 years old, thinking of having done your best to assure your children a normal and peaceful life and find yourself at the defendants bar as defendants guilty of not being able to transfer values and point of reference to your children so as they could have a normal life.
Everyone told his story and generally the first stumbling block was to accept the situation. One tended to hide the problems to neighbours and acquaintances and soon it becomes apparent that the only viable solution is to bring it to light with determination and without subterfuge.
I saw crying and powerless parents blaming themselves for something that they did not do. In good faith they believed they did everything they could, but inexplicably they had a drug addicted child in return.
Many young people fall into this trap either because they are naïve, curious or for the taste of doing something forbidden, for transgression. They are also helped by the fact the in-force legislation encourages illegal markets and mafia drug promoters. Unfortunately these substances create physical addiction, which cannot be rationally controlled and often they lead to a vicious spiral that brings to destruction. Other people take drugs doing so by rational choice. They are deluded ones, seeking ecstasy with ecstasy. Paradoxically they search for a condition of wellbeing, strong and seemingly pleasant sensations, but eventually they ruin themselves. They do exactly the opposite of what they should do, and I mean being rational to be able to fully enjoy a state of mind a brilliant intuition or the sight of a beautiful woman.
When I went to visit the community I surprisingly thought to myself: how can it be possible? I am among drug addicts, scum of the society, but I had the feeling I was in a clean place in which there were solidarity, rules compliance and job sharing even in regards to the most humble jobs such as cleaning the toilets.
It was a microcosm where people learned how to live and reflect on themselves, it was generally managed and run by a priest, as the Government considers itself morally inadequate to resolve these problems and delegates everything to religious organisations. Moreover who has always taken care of the desperate people and of the ones who lost their “way” but the Church?
In official festivities politicians do their very best to attend parties and thank these exceptional people (I am very much convinced about that) and they do not realise that they imply the total failure of the Government to resolve drug related problems. Unfortunately these people’s efficiency, good will and dedication is totally vanished by their own attitude in regards to this issue.
“Drugs are immoral and a sin, therefore they have to be prohibited." They act well and achieve good results at the bottom of the problem, but they do not realise to be one of the causes of the drug phenomenon. They are paradoxically functional to some organisations which illegally promote drugs, doing excellent business, as drugs illegal and not regulated. They protect a very questionable moral principle and they are willing to be involuntary allies of various crime organisations involved in drug dealing and selling. The contradiction is even more striking if it is referred to persons. In theory all prohibitionists, whether politicians or prelates, are among the strongest advocates of the inviolability of persons. They strongly believe in the possibility of redemption and repentance of drug addicts because they are capable of thinking, reasoning and overcome the difficulties they have. Potential drug addicts (standard people like everyone of us) are not able to discern what is good and what is evil. This is a prerogative of the State and Church, who decide what we can eat and drink
Their loving care go so far as to consider us fools as normal individuals, whilst we are rational and discerning people as drug addicts.
You exemplary father, why are you worried?
Your son is safe, because drugs are banned! When he has problems or he goes through difficult times he will not find drugs in communities or organized facilities bearing the responsibility of a potential use, he will find it outside school, in night clubs, or couriers and specialised agents will deliver it to him.
You can peacefully sleep as the Government achieve different important results through this situation:
swelling the various mafias coffers;
tempting your child with the charm of the forbidden;
depriving generations of responsibilities;
draining your bank account to buy drugs;
cramming prisons with desperate harmless people to attend the crime university.
In return you will satisfactorily comply with a holy moral and ethical principle: "drugs are immoral and a sin, so they must be banned."
Prohibitionists consider themselves and others unable of discerning what is good and what is evil. They seem to be very self confident, but they do not trust anyone and – the truth is – they are even afraid of their shadow.
It was winter and I was on duty at Treviso Canadair Base. We were operating on a large fire about 15 miles West of S. Croce Lake. The area was rather difficult to reach, but with an extra aircraft from Ciampino things seemed to be under control, in fact that morning we did not alert us.
“Hi Tito, how is the situation?”
It seems ok now, as you can see the wind has calmed down and today we are likely to rest.
“That would be great, we worked on extinguishing the fire, flying for 6 hours a day for the past 3 days.
How come...! You…former soldier of the Air Force Academy are unable to keep pace?
"What are you saying, are you teasing me? However, this is a peculiar job, you can spend 20 days relaxing and waiting and then in a week it is payback time.
By the way, how is your son? "
Unfortunately, he is not well He is in a therapeutic community in Tuscania.
"Don’t tell me that he is a drug addict....!"
No he doesn’t take drugs, he has behavioural problems Given that he decided to leave home, we decided to send him to a therapeutic community, in accordance with the social worker. He ended up in Tuscania as in Latina there was not availability.
"These shitty drug addicts....! I would chuck them all in jail … total war to them, pushers, producers, the mafia .....forget about free drug as your Radical friends say!”
Again…you don’t get it do you? ....my Radical friends, as you put it, say something else: "legalisation and regulation."
How come in twenty years in Italy we have not been able to grasp this simple concept!
There is a huge difference between the two things, how can you with your reporter friends, with Giovanardi, Gasbarri, Muccioli, Cardinals keep saying "drug free, liberalisation" carefully avoiding the comparison with "legalisation and regulation?
"But there is no difference between the two!"
Well if you say so, I am supposed to be an immoral individual, an unfit father who does not care about his children, about old ladies pickpocketed in the street because I want drug liberalisation, unlike you supporting drug prohibition, you are supposed to be an honest, rational, sensible man, you care about old ladies and you send drug addicts to jail, you fight mafia, drug dealers and multinational drug companies.
It is far too easy and cheap to have a peaceful good conscience by simply banning drugs. You know better than I do that drugs have never been so free just because they are is prohibited.
Moreover this condition means neglecting responsibility, as if drugs were legal everyone would publicly and consciously bear the responsibility for any potential use and consumption.
In any case, since today we are not flying and we have time, let’s play a game.
Do you remember when we were lieutenant colonels and we attended the Air War College in Florence?
“Of course I remember! Nine months spent on studying logical thinking, reasoning errors, how to write a letter, a note, a technical memorandum, an operating memorandum, how boring!”
I see you remember more than I do, therefore you are not totally oblivious to those things. What I did not understand is why they call it Air War College, in fact it was a good school for Executives where you study problem solving. Ok then let’s assume we have to organise a war against drugs and our leader has called us to identify possible solutions and prepare possible actions (the so called PA), basically we have to prepare an operating memorandum. The objective is the following: defeat all the drug relating crime organisations drug dealers and consumers, destruction of all production centres and places where drugs are grown or cultivated.
"The objective sounds perfect. Let’s start by expressing the antefact (the background situation) the assignment and the purpose.”
It is not a piece of cake….I can’t think of anything, it is always hard to start.
"..... antefact… the background situation!"
Following high consumption of drugs, pickpocketing, robberies, drug dealing and selling, and consequently crime organisations’ rising profits, the Government and the Parliament instructed the Police Force and if necessary the Army to carry out the operating plan in order to heavily reduce the phenomenon, severely damaging mafia organisations, isolating and punishing the culprits in accordance to the law
"Now, let’s set constraints and limitations."
- Italian law on drugs;
- International law, sovereignty of States;
- Law enforcement forces availability and quality.
“OK we can start with brainstorming, basically we have to say everything that comes to mind without constraints, and then set the relationships and interdependencies among things, you can start first please”
drugs and their consumption are immoral and the Government is doing the right thing to prohibit them;
drugs are agricultural product, just like potatoes, therefore eating potatoes is also immoral
potatoes are good and drugs are bad
even cannabis regulates eye pressure and its by-products are used as medicines in pain therapy in terminally ill people
drugs are evil because they are good and bad
if I drink two litres of wine a day I fell sick and become an alcoholic, why isn’t wine banned?
Drug addicts are scum of society, depraved people, with no principles
People take drugs because they are dissatisfied have nothing to do
Others take drugs as they are drawn by the charm of the forbidden, perhaps if they had drugs at home, just like whiskey they would not care.
People take drugs because their parents are divorced, or for financial difficulties, unemployment, and inability to deal and resolve problems.
If I do not bother anyone, the Government cannot prevent me from eating and drinking what I want
If you are sick and need treatment the Government must pay hospital fees
Ok now browse in internet and find some data:
World opium production in 2002: 4500 tonnes broken down by Afghanistan 76%, Burma 18%, Laos 2%, Colombia 1%
World cocaine production: about 800 tonnes broken down by: Colombia 72%, Peru 20% and Bolivia 8%;
Cannabis production: no adequate detection systems are present, but the rising of seizures of cannabis are an indirect indicator;
synthetic drugs are annually produced 500 tonnes of amphetamine-type stimulants STA (400 amphetamines, 100 ecstasy); they can be produced everywhere, as they are not affected by climate. Their production is soaring, only in the US 8,000 labs were identified in 2001;
World drug traffic continues to grow with amazing turnovers for crime organisations;
The world drug report estimates that 200 million people take drugs: 163 million people take cannabis, 34 million people take amphetamines, 15 million people take opiates of which 10 million take heroin, 14 million people take cocaine, 8 million people ecstasy;
Opiates consumption has remained stable in North America, with a slight upturn in South America, unlike in Western Europe and in Russia where opiates consumption is growing.
the majority of UN countries reports ecstasy consumption increase by 50%;
drug abuse is no longer a rich countries’ phenomenon, but it is also spread to lower classes;
Drugs can travel by cars, planes, ships, trains, motorboat, boats, dinghies, people, donkeys, mules, camels and many more.
We are 7 billion people (considering a conservative estimate) and theoretically we are supposed to check: 1 billion cars, 10-15,000 planes, 700-800,000 ships and boats etc.., 200 million drug addicts, mafia criminals
In 2005 in Italy 25,541 drug addicts went to jail, they represented 30% of the total no. of convicts;
In the years 2001-2005 the use of stimulants and hallucinogens tripled;
Cannabis consumers range from 6.2% to 11%, cocaine users range from 1.2% to 2.2%;
On average in Italy cocaine costs 90 euros per gram, heroin around € 60 per gram;
The war on drugs is an asymmetrical war as the enemy is invisible, you need to search for it;
Asymmetrical wars require more men than standard wars;
To sum up 300 million potential couriers, users and dealers have to be monitored night and day, then cultivation places need to be identified and destroyed;
At the source 1 kg of opium poppies is as cheap as 1 kg of potatoes, then drugs acquire a higher value because they are illicit, so mafia business risk must be taken into account, drugs supply is enough but prices are so high as if drugs were as rare as diamonds.
We could go on and on but I think that on the basis of these data we already have a clear picture.
Current national and international drug-related legislation greatly influence possible action plans.
In a context of prohibition we are necessarily forced to act suppressing the drug phenomenon, employing adequate forces to be efficient.
Production countries intervention has to be envisaged even if they are not able/do not want to fight the phenomenon.
Therefore possible action Plan 1 (P.A.P. 1) should foresee the following:
identification of drug cultivation places using all possible means, scouting, satellite intelligence;
UN/Nato Napalm bombing in Afghanistan, Burma, Laos, Columbia, Peru and Bolivia;
Constant monitoring of ships, planes, motorboats traffic, checking at least one out of five;
Constant monitoring of population (one person out of five) excluding people under 10 years of age as the 200 million drug users are unknown. There are about 1 million potential drug dealers/couriers/users to keep under control;
Consequently to achieve efficient results the following would be necessary:
Double staff within the Police forces at an international level, to assign them to this specific task only;
Double staff at Courts and Judicial Offices (in Italy quadrupled personnel given the ongoing trials and our judicial system efficiency)
Double the number of jails
Many drug-related problems and causes would disappear in a drug liberalisation and regulation scenario. Crime organisations would not have any interest in promoting and selling drugs because they would get back to the value it has in nature i.e. one kg of opium poppies would be equal to one kg of potatoes.
Currently – I do not know if you noticed – there are various mafia promoters who sell drugs in night clubs, in the streets, schools... the litmus test is that drugs can be found anywhere because they are prohibited. Moreover, if your son has any problem i.e. he splits up with his girlfriend and he is heartbroken he has more chance to bump into drugs because drug dealers have interest in selling them.
The greatest mafia’s ad is promoted by the Government free of charge: “drug is banned because is immoral and a sin, if you want it turn to mafia”.
Afghan and Colombian farmers would not have any interest in growing drugs and perhaps they would convert them into other crops. Legalisation and regulation does not mean that you can buy any drug at a convenient store, but it means that the Government as well as holding tobacco monopoly would also have the production and distribution monopoly of substances that have important social implications.
Possible action plan no. 2 (P.A.P. 2)
- Drug legalisation and regulation through Government control;
Set up of new structures for the controlled distribution and administration of drugs both for those who stumbled in drugs (drug users) and for those who for other reasons, or inability to sort out their problems, turn to drugs;
Allow residents only to use these facilities;
Improvement of therapeutic communities and similar structures.. etc.
This solution would represent a severe damage to crime organisations and they would be forced to focus their attention on other sectors as their illicit profits would plummet. This plan does not require more resources available, but only their reorganisation, giving priority to social assistance and the improvement of therapeutic facilities.
It can also be applied individually by each Government with the measure that the use of the facilities is only permitted to residents avoiding the drug addicts tourism.
Possible action plan no. 3 (P.A.P. 3)
This is the existing scheme, it is basically equal to no. 1 action plan, but it is carried out without determination, with limited law enforcement forces. This scheme does not solve the problem, it makes it worse. In fact data show the following:
The illicit drug production is on the rise;
The number of users and drug addicts have increased;
30% of inmates are drug addicts;
Crime organisation are thriving as well as their trade and profits.
We can now set the criteria and then assess the possible solutions.
Schemes should require the following mandatory criteria:
Cut down on illicit production;
Reduction on the no. of drug addicts;
Cut down or reduce to zero crime organisations’ profits
Reduction of drug-related crime
Highly advisable non-mandatory criteria:
-Rationalise financial resources;
Improvement of drug addicts’ conditions and their families’;
Social approval in line of commonly accepted morals;
Now on the basis of the above criteria we can compare different solutions and single out the best one.
1.Cut down on illicit production
2.Reduction of no. of drug addicts
3.Cut down or reduce to zero crime organisations’ profits
4.National & international law compliance
5. Decrease of drug-related crime
Highly advisable non-mandatory criteria
1.Rationalise financial resources
2.Improvement of drug addicts’ conditions and their families’
3. Social approval in line of commonly accepted morals
Scheme 1 offers a temporary solution to the problem but it does involve a war on drug producing countries, it is rather costly and does not improve drug addicts’ conditions and their families.
Scheme 2 is the most adequate one and it also meets non mandatory criteria
It is the current one and it is literally preposterous, it does not resolve the problem, but drug money is a source of mafia financing. The only criterion apparently met is that it is in line with commonly accepted morals. There would be so much to comment about the latter criterion.
Please note that we skipped a step: we did not indicate the enemy, the obstacle assuming it was glaringly obvious i.e. “all mafia and crime related organisations and all those drug-addicts, perverts and people with no moral principles.
However, as my colleague from Naples puts it: mafia and camorra honestly do their job if they are given the chance to do it.
If scheme 2 is the most suitable one – and I think it is obvious – the true enemy is the moral prejudice in regards to the drug issue. I am referring to the so called respectable and sensible God-fearing people. In order to have a peaceful conscience they choose the cheap way and they deny the evidence, except when they surprisingly find out that their son takes drugs. They are forced to sell their house and go back and forth between jail because their son was caught with an illicit dose.
“Approximately 80% of MP are prohibitionists therefore they are also the enemy. In my opinion you and your friends are presumptuous, you always want to be right. If the Church is prohibitionist, most of MP are prohibitionists, those responsible for the therapeutic communities are prohibitionists, it means something doesn’t it. Of course! Therapeutic communities’ attitude contribute to create 100 drug-addicts, treating 80 and saving 20 of them. As you can see it is a positive balance.
If I am not mistaken we also had a referendum on the subject and the 50% of Italians voted for it. Why don’t MP realise that the current situation is a nonsense?
Are they all insane? I don’t think so. The fact is that these people know perfectly well that the solution to the problem is drug liberalisation, but they also know it is not a very popular solution.
It would be enough to set up a Commission in Parliament and they would draw the same conclusion we did. Unfortunately their criteria are not in line with common sense. They are able to solve problems perfectly well, but any solution they may find has to meet one essential criterion: “how many votes it can get for me and my party?
You know what it is like…they have a family to support! They are not really concerned about the best solution, they have to bend their already twisted neck to the most vulgar populism to save their job (their seat in Parliament), being perfectly aware that they are our employees (as Grillo says) we do not realise of being their employers. You can carry on voting them, but if by any unlucky chance some of your dear ones take drugs do not come to me and complain, because I will not listen.
“How come you turn so sour, almost bad…people do not want to have problems, they do not want to leave their pack how come you manage to make yourself so many enemies?”
Well I do not have any drug-related problems, I was offered a joints a couple of times, it was a pleasant feeling, but I can get the same effect with a few glasses of Primitivo di Manduria wine, only spending 20 cents, therefore I am not interested.
What makes my blood boil is that many people suffer and ruin their lives, financing mafia organisations, because of some stupid moral prejudice.
You see…it was just an exercise, but in one afternoon we found a solution to this problem. Put the scheme in practice only depends on me, you and many others out there. MP, cardinals, Muccioli, drug-addicts have little to do.
If you have to get mad at someone, just get angry with yourself for relying on these people whose sole purpose is their survival