“To me, altruism means being selfless or giving to other people, even when there may be nothing to gain and something to lose. Altruistic people do things for the collective interest instead of their own.” — Johnny Stack
Johnny Stack was born on February 7, 2000 and died by suicide on November 20, 2019 at the age of 19. He was an incredibly intelligent, funny, charming, handsome young man, which you can see in his tribute video. We are a normal suburban family and did normal family things. He had a happy life, a 4.0 GPA with a scholarship to college, and a family who loved him very much. Unfortunately, we live in Colorado, which was the first state to legalize marijuana in 2014, when Johnny was 14 years old.
Three days before he passed, he came over for dinner. He lived in our condo a couple miles down the street and would often pop in for a home-cooked meal. “I need to tell you that you were right,” he said to me. “Right about what?” I ask. “Right about the marijuana. You told me weed would hurt my brain, and it’s ruined my mind and my life. You were right all along. I’m sorry, and I love you.” He died by suicide three days later.
Johnny dabbed for years, starting at age 14 as a freshman in high school at a party. When I said “dabbed” just now, did you know what I meant? Not everyone does. Do you understand the difference between smoking cannabis flower and dabbing high-THC concentrates, such as wax, oil, shatter, or budder (not a typo)? Most of my friends look at me blankly when I say these words and say, “I’ve never even heard about this” or “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” If you don’t know what cannabis concentrates are, and you have children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews between the ages of 14 and 24, you are in the right place.
JOHNNY’S 5 VALUES
In August 2019, a few months before he died, Johnny wrote an essay called, “Values I Believe Are the Most Important” for a class assignment at Colorado Technical University.
At his memorial service on December 9, I shared his five values in my eulogy and told a little story about how he exemplified each value and what we can learn from him.
Here is a summary of them in his own words, and you can download his full PowerPoint presentation here.
- Altruism – To me, altruism means being selfless or giving to other people, even when there may be nothing to gain and something to lose. Altruistic people do things for the collective interest instead of their own.
- Patience – In my own words, I would say patience means being able to wait, even in stressful and infuriating situations, often to achieve a better result.
- Conviction – I think conviction means showing confidence in what you believe in and know is the truth, and to stand by it.
- Enthusiasm – Enthusiasm is approaching every obstacle or situation with the utmost of optimism and cheerfulness.
- Gratitude – Simply put, expressing gratitude is showing you’re thankful for what you have, or a kind act.
I would love to have you join us as one of Johnny’s Ambassadors by PURPOSEFULLY, ACTIVELY practicing these values in your own life and community. You would focus on one of them in some way, for example by volunteering, and then share what happens with me and the rest of the group. I will compile these into a little book to share the examples, quotes, anecdotes, and stories of people who see Johnny’s values manifested in everyday life. In this way, we can all be uplifted by Johnny’s spirit and the amazing experiences that I believe will occur when you DO something you otherwise might not have done. As Johnny says in the Enthusiasm section, “There is always a silver lining to every misfortune”! Love to all.