You no doubt have heard the saying, “Give him an inch and he will take a mile,” or as Conway High School football coach Clint Ashcraft has famously said, “What you will settle for is what you will have.”
Based on a news report I saw a while back I can tell you what we have. We have a nation awash in alcohol. The sad thing about it is that, based on the laws in our country, I don’t know what anyone can do about it even if they wanted to. While state and local police do all they can to slow down or keep drunks off the road, we are sure not going to get any help from the government because they love the tax revenue from alcohol sales.
Here is the news report that prompted this column, and it involved something regarding alcohol that I had never thought about before. Would you believe that a pedestrian is killed in this country every two and a half hours. That’s more than 4,000 each year, and almost 50 percent of these deaths involve alcohol. In case you don’t know, a pedestrian is someone out walking on the street or road or crossing the same. To be sure, a person walking is no match for an automobile, especially if it is traveling at a high rate of speed. A government study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that alcohol is linked to 75,000 deaths each year in our country.
Here is how it breaks down. About 35,000 people die from cirrhosis of the liver, cancer and other diseases linked to drinking too much beer, wine and spirits. Another 40,000 people die from auto crashes and other mishaps. Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in our nation, after tobacco use and poor eating and exercise habits.
Here is the rub and it’s really a catch 22: They say that moderate drinking can benefit a person’s health, but heavy drinking increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disorders, certain cancer and liver disease. You see the problem. What’s moderate for one is heavy for another and so forth.
Here is a question that may be in order. How did we get to this point in our nation, where we are awash in alcohol? To be sure, we have had alcohol in the world for thousands of years. In ancient times a lot of this was caused by not having a purification system to prevent disease, thus alcohol was the safest thing to drink. Here in our country we went through the days of prohibition where we tried, for a while, to ban the sale and use of alcohol. That did not last till the water got hot, from 1920 to 1933. From my perspective, it seems that the use of alcohol has increased at an alarming rate, thus the statistics I quoted earlier.
Again, why? Here are some possibilities. Alcohol is sold at all major sporting events. Binge drinking on college campuses is out of control. Our airways are saturated with commercials for beer, wine and other forms of alcohol and the banter on most all television shows makes it plain the people involved can’t wait to get off work and go have a beer, even a beer summit no less. There is even a debate about whether alcoholism is an addiction or a disease.
Here is my response. There is no record of any person, like me, who has ever been diagnosed as having either one. This is because I have never taken a drink of any kind of alcohol in my whole life. This is not to brag, but rather I just praise God for that.
What’s the answer? The only thing I would offer is that as individuals we must take the responsibility for our own choices and actions. We should stop killing ourselves and others because of poor choices. There is a time for me, and maybe for you, when we should say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”
(Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com.)