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Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - Table of Contents

National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Chapter III

Social Impact of marihuana use

Youth and the Work Ethic

Of the many issues related to youth and the use of marihuana, one that greatly troubles many adults, is youthful attitudes toward work. The work ethic in our society is based on a belief that work is a good and necessary activity in and of itself.

The traditional view holds that work is not only a right and moral act but that it keeps people from mischief and from wasting time on harmful recreational pleasures. The rationale for this thesis is that work in American society has served as the primary means by which persons acquired the treasured symbols of society.

In fact, throughout much of our history, with the exception of the small number who inherited or married wealth, no ethical alternative to work existed. In recent years, the increased emphasis placed upon leisure time activities has resulted in shorter work weeks, longer vacation periods and more paid holidays.

Among the concerns of the adults about today's youthful attitudes toward work and leisure are that young people seem to enjoy their recreational pursuits so much that they forget that to a considerable degree their enjoyment is paid for by the labor of others.

Many young people do not express the same level of concern as their parents did about preparing themselves for a career and "getting ahead in the world." In part, this attitude is attributable to the fact that increasingly, the results of this labor are not tangible, material goods. Service occupations generally do not produce such tangible products, and even in manufacturing industries the individual worker is usually too remote from the product to feel any pride or interest in it. In both instances, the traditional symbol of the "manhood" of work, a tangible product, is no longer present.

In sum, society has become increasingly disturbed by certain attitudes of today's youth which seem to stress pleasure, fun, and enjoyment without a counterbalancing concern for a disciplined and sustained work effort. Nevertheless, the number of young people who view work as unimportant is small when compared to the total number of young people. The Commission has found no evidence to suggest that the majority of youth are unwilling or incapable of productive and disciplined work performance. In fact, the great majority of young people are performing their tasks in industry, the professions and education quite effectively.

Although many young people delay entry into the work force to enjoy the fruits of our prosperous society, this delay does not mean they will not one day contribute their best efforts to the continued growth and advancement of the nation.


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