Rethinking alcohol consumption
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, April 3, 2008
It is 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning and I sit at my desk awaiting the moment when I can close my eyes and drift off to sleep. St. Ed’s is unusually loud at this time of the morning as partygoers clamor up and down the stairs and aimlessly roam the halls in a drunken stupor. On this night I have overheard students, some my friends, say things in a public hallway that could be construed as sexist, racist and altogether unbecoming of students growing in Catholic character. What possesses people to act so foolishly? The answer is not shocking and I can actually smell it as its vapors seep through the hallway and into my room. Put simply, it is alcohol.
Like other drugs, alcohol causes a change in the mind, body and spirit of those who consume it. I have always wondered why humans find such pleasure in a substance that can alter one’s sense of consciousness and perception of reality. What is the benefit to be had in imbibing copious amounts of liquor? To be honest, I see none. What I do see and hear, however, is unbridled lasciviousness and immaturity.
To be certain, alcohol in and of itself is not evil. In moderation wine and other forms of alcohol can bring families together around a dinner table. Around the altar in Catholic Mass, believers grow closer to Christ’s Mystical Body in the act of consuming a sip of consecrated red wine. These acts are not evil and they promote friendship and participation in the sacramental life of the Church. What is evil, however, is the immaturity that drunkards exhibit when they allow a mere substance to possess their spirit and direct their will. What reckless abandon! Why do decent humans beings allow themselves to act so foolishly in public? It is apparent to me that many students have not been taught the value of responsibility.
Responsibility, in this sense, is the awareness that one can drink, yet the understanding that he or she must do so in moderation lest the substance take possession of his or her will. I learned this important value with my grandpa in youth with the help of his Cabernet Sauvignon, but many students are forced to conjure some sense of responsibility when handed a plastic cup of foul smelling liquid at 1:00 in the morning. Where is grandfather now? He cannot help this student. The student should have sought his wisdom in youth when the mind was willing to learn the true value of responsibility.
Now the student looks around the room and sees that drinking the substance affords her the opportunity to make new friends and achieve a proverbial high. Yet the friendships and the highs are temporal as bonds made in wine are false and not founded upon virtue. They are instead founded in the masquerade of drunkenness. Students must recognize that in consuming alcohol they are facing the risk of expressing a false sense of their true being. I know the people jabbering outside my door are truly not sexists, yet alcohol gives the impression that they are. Why would anyone willingly accept the risk of embarrassing herself and her dignity for the pleasures of the moment?
I do not have this answer, yet it is clear to me that many students on this campus place little value in the virtue of responsibility. As I conclude my thoughts I realize that parietals have already passed and the noise is beginning to quiet in the hallway. I hear the chapel door open as students place themselves in God’s presence to offer praise and thanksgiving in darkness and peaceful silence. I am encouraged that the masquerade might be coming to an end and am optimistic that many may have learned valuable lessons from their experiences with alcohol this night. Yet I am also concerned that the responsibility and maturity that is clearly lacking in so many students will not be learned this week. I fear that I may witness the events of this night the following weekend. Let us hope that wisdom guides the weary to embrace virtue in place of temporal pleasure this week.
St. Edward’s Hall