The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers
III. Pharmacracy: Medicine as Social Control
11. Temptation and Temperance: The Moral Perspective Reconsidered
...To understand the significance of sacrifice, we must recognize its several meanings: it is a ceremonial acknowledgment of the authority of God and man's willing subjection to Him; it is an act of atonement for sins and a symbolic restitution for misdeeds; and -most importantly from the point of view of our present interests -it is an affirmation of man's powers of self-control. By a deliberate and voluntary act of sacrifice-through one of those seeming paradoxes that characterize human nature and existence-the individual increases his control over himself. Emerson has put it perfectly:
"We gain the strength of the temptation we resist."
By acquiring self- control, man frees himself from the laws of reflexive subjection to needs, pleasures, and temptations. The farther a person carries this process of self-abnegation, the more successfully he overcomes or "denies" his "animal nature" -the more unlike an animal and the more like a "god" he becomes. Here lies the simple but inescapable connection between sacrifice, asceticism, "saintliness," self-control, and a sense of power over oneself -and sometimes an accompanying actuality of acquisition of power over others. And here lies the reciprocal connection between temptation, yielding to temptation, self-indulgence, weakness, and a sense of loss of control over oneself -and often an accompanying actuality of loss of power over others.