I like a drink.
I probably drink too much. No. Wait a minute. I do drink too much. I’m a fucking adult. Drinking is legal in most places I think. Drinking is my choice. I’m well aware it’s not particularly good for me. I’m well aware that it probably is some sort of self-medication, which gives me a feeling of euphoria and gives me a temporary escape from worrying things in life. I happen to think that we, like other species on the planet, enjoy finding ways to get off our heads to make the life we have on this planet a bit more fun, silly and enjoyable. Birds do it, bees do it. Even chimpanzees do it. Seriously. They all do.
Drinking a lot of wine doesn’t make me an expert on the effects of alcohol, just as having a dozen kids doesn’t render someone an expert on childcare, but one thing that I do know about booze is that many bad things have happened because people have abused, misused and exploited the effects of alcohol. Oh, there are so many tragedies. Fucking hell, it’s even determined the outcome of wars and in some cases, been at the very root of them. Some very famous war heroes were known alcohol abusers.
It’s perfectly possible to drink in moderation and even to use alcohol to enhance one’s life. A lot of people manage to drink responsibly and do not in any way inflict their indulgence or drunkenness upon anyone else. There are some alcohol loving people who, as hosts, provide their guests with the best drinks available. They mostly drink in small gatherings in private and don’t disturb their neighbours or cause problems to anyone else.
Quite a number of people enjoy drinking in pubs, clubs or bars. These are the places chosen, by those who love alcohol, to gather and share a common passion. Bars are at the centre of many communities and both good and bad comes out of them. The most popular bars hold fundraisers, give people a respite from loneliness, and provide spaces for important functions and various useful organisations that help society. People have met and made life long relationships both in business and in love in bars and have been known to celebrate both of those things in bars in front of and alongside their fellow patrons.
People go to bars to listen to and play great music. Where would the music scene be without great bars? Where would our arts be without people having the option to achieve altered states of consciousness through the use and abuse of mind changing substances like alcohol, marijuana and a variety of less legal or tolerated drugs? We certainly are also aware that drugs and alcohol can exacerbate certain types of mental illness and sadly can render some vulnerable and/or dangerous.
I have no doubt that to teetotalers, drinking is a rather odd pursuit. Looking at it from the outside in, it probably seems a little bit sad that people appear to require a crutch, like alcohol or weed, to help them get through life and that some people’s entire social lives circulate around drinking. Many people, who do not drink, have friends and family who do and, while they think it’s strange and may even disapprove, they still love their friends and family members and have a ‘live and let live’ philosophy.
In most parts of the world, it would be frowned upon to take a young child into a bar, or any place where adults enjoy sharing and participating in the rituals surrounding the use of alcohol and other recreational drugs. OK. I know the French do it. But they are special and genetically predisposed to alcohol consumption. They do, though, wait until a child is of the age of Catholic communion, before they allow them to have, perhaps, one glass of wine at dinner with adults. My guess is that it’s an evolutionary thing among the French so that their offspring’ livers can prepare.
Societies that consider themselves civilized have imposed an age limit upon the use of alcohol and other mind altering substances, designed to ensure that those who wish to participate in the enjoyment of said substances can do so in an informed manner, and are capable of being responsible for the decisions they make. We all know that some decisions involving the consumption of alcohol can be truly life changing.
So, let’s stop for a minute and have some fun imagining. Let’s imagine a world where adults would take children, from birth, into bars or other places where people gathered to listen to music, get drunk or high and feel a common bond in their altered state of consciousness. Imagine a world where adults would insist that children commit to one specific type of alcohol – vodka over wine or gin over beer and then, demanding that they could only partake of a specific brand. I must admit, that in the case of things like Budweiser, this may, indeed, be ‘weiser’.
Let’s, for a moment, imagine a world where children were terrorised into this commitment, told they may be excluded from the family if they didn’t take part and, even worse, that horrific things might happen to them should they fall by the wayside. What if children were told by their parents and elders that they respected that should they decide to find another means of achieving a high or, god forbid, go teetotal they would be committing the most heinous crime of all. Imagine a world where children were taught that if they attended the wrong bar, they could be slaughtered, even if it was the same bar their family had attended for generations, for no other reason except people who preferred other bars believed that they should die.
Now, let’s talk about religion.
I’m not religious myself, but what if I were? What if I liked a particular deity – some god, goddess or other mystical being? Religion is legal in most places, I think, and people are allowed to participate and worship as they please, even to the extreme. It’s pretty well established that while there are many moderate and responsible religious people, practicing privately and not trying to impose their religion upon others, that religion can be harmful both to the individual and to their family and community.
Some people opt to worship their chosen deity in the privacy of their own home, either just among family, or in small gatherings. Hosts of religious gatherings provide a safe and pleasant environment where people can focus on the best parts of the religion and find ways to use it to enhance their own life and the lives of others. Others drag their guests around the neighbourhood, knocking on doors, threatening people with scary things if they don’t worship their particular deity in the manner they believe it should be correctly done.
There’s little doubt that religion is probably is some sort of self-medication, which gives followers a feeling of euphoria a respite from worrying things in life. Escapism at its finest. Many bad things have happened because people have abused, misused and exploited religion. Oh, there are so many tragedies. Some very famous war heroes were known to be keen on religion.
It’s well documented that the long lasting effects of religion can be particularly harmful to those who were indoctrinated at a young age. Guilt, shame, fear, intolerance and depression are all well-known side effects of religion. Certainly a lot of quite terrible things have happened throughout history because of religion and, wars have been won and lost because of it. People have harmed themselves, other adults and children all because of religion.
Religious people enjoy going to churches or other similar buildings, where they gather with other likeminded religious folks and share the feeling of euphoria and bliss associated with group worship. The most popular churches hold fundraisers, give people a respite from loneliness, and provide spaces for important functions and various useful organisations that help society. People have met and made life long relationships both in business and in love in churches and have been known to celebrate both of those things in churches in front of and alongside their fellow congregants.
People go to churches to listen to and play great music. Where would the music scene be without those who started in the church? Where would our arts be without people having the option to achieve altered states of consciousness through the use and abuse of mind altering connections with higher beings? We certainly would have fewer great writers, film makers and poets if children hadn’t been terrorised, abused and exploited by church elders. We know that religion can exacerbate certain types of mental illness and sadly can render some vulnerable and/or dangerous.
I have no doubt that atheists and other types of non-believers find religion a rather odd pursuit. From the outside looking in, it can seem rather unfortunate that people require a crutch to help them through their time on earth and that some people seem to have no life outside of their religious activities. Many non-believers have friends and family who are religious and although they think their practices are strange, and may even disapprove of their lifestyle choices, they are tolerant and maintain those relationships. After all, everyone is different and it’s good to just get along.
This is where things get a little bit tricky. It is socially acceptable to force children to participate in religion, despite the known risks. Children are powerless and very easily controlled and indoctrinated.
Should we bring children into a space where they are taught to fear and/or love a deity that may have ordered the murder of hundreds of children, even its own child? Should we expose children to a place where they are likely to encounter judgments about themselves, as an individual, that may make them feel worthless? Should we make children participate in activities which are wholly designed to brainwash them leaving them permanently affected and requiring therapy to extricate themselves? Should we be allowing our children to be guided by a leadership well known for sexually exploiting minors?
I can’t help but wonder why we don’t allow people to decide if they want to partake of religion when they are adults.
I have spent a great deal of time with adults who will always struggle with the long term effects of religious education and indoctrination. Some of them have lost their families. Some of them have lost their mental health. Some have lost their lives. It’s powerful shit. It’s mind altering shit. It’s shit that I think it’s unfair to expect children to deal with.
I don’t hate religion. I think it’s part of our history. So let’s teach children about religion in schools. Teach them the benefits and risks. Teach them about all the religions. Give them the knowledge they need to make an informed decision as an adult. The same thing should be applied to alcohol and drugs. All of these things can enhance life. They can also cause a great deal of pain and destroy lives. The difference is that it’s frowned upon to expose children to alcohol and children are removed from parents who abuse it.
When I hear that children are being told they will burn in hell if they don’t think a certain way, say a certain thing or be different to who they are it makes want to give them a glass of whiskey. Strangely there isn’t a huge record of bartenders fiddling with children. Maybe it’s safer to take them to bars.