Columnists rarely solve problems with words. The pen may be
mightier than a sword, but don't use it against a mugger.
(Threaten the mugger with a future column.)
Drug use is up among the young. But adults use the two drugs on
the planet that kill the most people. Alcohol and tobacco kill
about 25 times more people than all of the illegal drugs
combined. If alcohol were a newly developed drug seeking
approval for legal usage, it would face rejection based on its
side effects and potential for abuse.
We need to be honest with children. People use drugs because
they enjoy the effects. Penicillin helps people feel better by
killing germs. Alcohol hides pain for many. It has an ancient
history as a social lubricant.
Jesus lent credibility by changing water to wine. A component
in wine has proved to be of value in protecting some from heart
disease. (It is also present in grape juice.) Alcohol
consumption is a sacred right worshiped at parties and sports
events. It is a drug with positive and negative side effects.
We expect children to wait until they are "old enough" to enjoy
the privilege of drinking or having sex. These are "adult
pleasures." Then, we applaud a child's adult-level athletic
performance. A mixed message? Children rarely see the
distinction that some adult things are fine, others aren't.
During a recent mountain bike race at Hanna Park, I talked with
a fascinating woman from Hilton Head Island, S.C., Kathy Moore.
She is active in drug-abuse prevention in her area's schools.
Two years ago, her son, Tim, and his best friend got involved
in a very esoteric bike ritual called observed trials. Their
competition was being held the same day at Hanna Park. It is a
bicycle ballet through a maze of ramps and picnic tables. Total
bike control and accuracy are scored, not speed. Contestants
must complete several untimed runs in a four-hour period.
When Tim was …