GET ME A DRINK? By STEPHEN WALWYN CHMN, NCAI What can I do about crime? What can you do about crime? Every one of us can make a difference just in our own personal/individual, respective sphere. Just think of how much more can be achieved if two or more of us got together for the greater good of our society. We need to expand our world of individualism and think and act COMMUNITY, COMMUNITY, COMMUNITY. Frankly we are entirely too selfish and passive as a community to be more community-minded and focused. We need to begin the process of changing what now obtains by first, armed with consciousness of our imperfections and limitations, challenging the ills of our society through speaking out against wrong in every and all forms in which it exists and thrives, even when it is unpopular. For example, I wonder if we are not too intoxicated as a society about the excessive drinking which takes place, especially among our young, to address it. We have a very serious alcohol use and abuse PROBLEM. Alcohol consumption has become so accepted that it seems no one wants to touch this issue. Depending on one’s religious convictions, the use of alcohol is a socially acceptable norm in our culture and frankly in just about every other culture. Historically, drinking has always been the salve used to deal with “Island fever”, depression, stress and emotional and psychological problems. Our history books (throughout the Caribbean really) are replete with examples of alcohol being consumed to cure every kind of social and spiritual disease by slaves, slave masters, indentured servants, visitors and citizens alike. There seems to be something in the air we breathe that creates an insatiable thirst for the spirits of our ancestors (double entendre unintended). Our denial as a community about the extent of our social and crime problems should be further examined. Our self-deception is tantamount to our society having thrown a grand party and drinking and drinking during the fete without realizing that the alcohol that we are toasting is poisoning the judgment of our youth and driving us deeper and deeper into a sleep from which we seem unable to awaken. Alcoholism is a disease! It is also a drug, although never referred to as such. It is a depressant and impairs judgment. The medical problems caused by alcohol abuse are all too familiar. The most commonly known is the poisoning of the liver, but there are many others to which alcohol is either directly or indirectly linked. Its abuse has been linked to many fatal traffic accidents. Indeed, research in “more developed”countries have revealed that in addition to cigarette and marijuana smoking, it is considered a “gateway”drug, leading to the use of harder drugs or substances. Alcohol is definitely linked to domestic violence, the loss of emotional control generally and many family and relationship problems. Because the problem of alcoholism is so widespread and especially because it is so commonly accepted, people are often very defensive when the issue is raised. Alcohol is used to deal with social awkwardness in assisting with mustering “courage’to make overtures or to say things one would not normally say when not under its influence. It has become so useful that it is perceived as being indispensable to social life. A party, social function or even more intimate interchanges would be considered bland and even incomplete without the spirits in generous supply. It is used to mask and soothe feelings of hurt, deep pain and anxiety and could very well be one of the primary contributing factors to why we are so numb to many of the social ills plaguing our Federation. The commercial branding of beer seems indelibly stamped on not just every civic and even government sponsored event, (including those that purport to be “anti-crime”) but impacting as well the wisdom and judgment that would easily lead us to find funding source alternatives. While I am not calling for legalized prohibition, the conversation on the reduction of crime must include addressing this very serious issue. Our young men in particular seem to reach for a guinness or a carib as if their very lives depended on it. But they are right to an extent: their risk taking, living on the edge, juvenile, irresponsible and “responsible adult mimicking”lives do depend quite heavily on alcohol use. These young men must be taught to control the consumption of alcohol. We have a responsibility to teach them somehow that an addiction to alcohol will severely impact their ability to manage their finances, on which their children, girlfriends/wives and other family members, indeed their very future, depend. They must be taught the risks and consequences of alcohol dependence. They must be taught to appreciate that alcohol, contrary to popular myth does not enhance sexual performance, it actually inhibits it. Finally, the girls they attract by drinking because it looks and seems cool, are generally not the ones to help teach them discipline and self-control or model good judgment. But WHO will teach these important lessons? I”m afraid that when it comes to alcohol use and/or abuse, sadly many of us more “responsible adults”haven’t learned these lessons very well ourselves.
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