New Year's Day is a very good day to think about this. Many have that shaggy, slightly pained outlook on the day from a bit (or more than a bit) of the merry, merry clinky-drinky last night. And why not? It is the western world's mass culture day for celebration - a holiday that really only celebrates celebration. Do any of you actually care that the last numeral has shift from an 8 to a 9? Even with the approval that accompanies our tradition, however, I am not entirely comfortable with over doing it and ofter the standards of others and sometimes myself as to what falls short of over doing it. A friend once described his resulting gnawing remorse as something he had to work on. Perhaps he was speaking from a point in his life where choosing to have a beer was for him a little bit of a play on the idea of choice. I think this is a bit more common than we would like to think - it is not for nothing that I have a picture of a monkey up there from time to time. So, it is with support but not whole-hearted agreement that I read Lew's thoughtful response to one anonymous comment maker who asked the question "why?" - especially the outset of the response which started with this characterization of the questioner:
This screed sums up a lot of what passes for anti-alcohol, New Dry "thought:" everyone who drinks is a drunk, the only reason people drink is to get blind drunk, children will all drink alcohol at every opportunity, alcohol is an evil that society must be protected from by the government and societal strictures, and life can be enjoyed without alcohol. As such, it deserves a response. "Anonymous," here's my look at "Why We Drink."
Pretty strong stuff. Lew and Jay and others talk about the "New Dry" movement and, to be fair, I think it is something that really has and has historically had far less traction up here in Canada given the limited reach the more general idea of social conservatism has in the Great White North. Conversely, I am not as worried by efforts of organizations like MADD to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking. I think I have to admit I do believe that too much drinking is very dangerous and I think Lew and Jay would agree in large part. But I am also tired of the slew of limited release beers that are all too strong, overloaded beer fests that go on too long in the day and social lives that revolve around having that drink. I have found myself leaving sessions far earlier than others for some time now, finding the second half of the night far less interesting than the outset. And I try to make sure there are many non-drinking activities in the social calendar hopefully giving beer the place somewhere closer to a treat than a daily necessity.
But that is just me. It seems entirely natural to me that someone like Lew's anonymous comment maker would see some drinking habits and some scenes in bars odd and distasteful. Frankly, I would complain to a bar manager, too, if I saw an eleven year old sneak over to clean off the remains of a beer at an abandoned table. Actually, I would have likely just dealt with the boy myself, standing up and intervening before the first sip. Does that make me a prude or blind to a danger to my liberty? I don't think so. But that is just me.
What do you think?