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Pronunciation: "nE-&-'ter-ik
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin neotericus, from Late Greek neOterikos, from Greek, youthful, from neOterios, comparative of neos new, young Date: 1596
- recent in origin : MODERN

Human society is evolving at an amazing pace. Only a few hundred years ago the world changed slowly, evolving into new technologies and new modes of thinking over a course of many generations. The people in society evolved their way of life and their ways of thinking, not by individuals coming to grips with new ideas, but rather with the old generation passing on and the new generation growing up with those new ideas.

Today, science and culture are changing so rapidly and lifespans are so long that individuals are forced to cope with many shifts in thinking over the course of their lives. In the last decade cell phones, computers, the Internet, ecological issues, and an increasingly global economy are changing the way we live, think, and interact with others.

Perhaps the most challenging new element we, as a society, have been forced to deal with is that of drugs. Drugs play a huge part in our lives, from coffee to cigarettes to aspirin to Prozac. We use chemicals to alter our moods and our health in (hopefully) positive ways, improving our lives and allowing us to cope with the world.

In the middle of the last century, our society began seriously exploring what we call psychoactive drugs, meaning drugs which alter your state of mind in a direct and obvious way. In some ways, this is the final frontier - our own minds. These drugs proved to be powerful tools - but they had power to harm as well as help, and for that reason we found them scary. Many felt that it was simply better to suppress the knowledge that we had ever discovered these drugs - to let the sleeping dragon lie.

This is the subject of Human beings are, above all else, curious creatures. We cannot let a sleeping dragon lie, nor have we. In the sixties and seventies people around the world began to explore these psychoactive chemicals, boldly experimenting upon themselves. Fear of the power of these chemicals, in many ways quite reasonably founded fear, caused our society to shun these experimenters and their psychoactive tools. Most were made illegal worldwide, in a vain attempt to keep the dragon asleep.

Today, people continue to experiment with these chemicals. A duality exists in our society: there are a huge number of drugs that are legal and accepted, and another growingly large number that are considered "recreational" (whether or not that is the case) and shunned and outlawed, often in every country on Earth. Is this double-standard justified? That's something that our society needs to consider. Unfortunately many people (particularly those of an older and more conservative generation) have trouble accepting that our current laws regarding some of these substances may be in error.