Moderation is liberation

By  Daniel Telech, Youth Speak News
  • April 18, 2008

Alcohol is seen both as a substance of cultural pride and as a problem-causing drug. So where does it fit in for young Catholics? While certain Christian denominations practise complete abstinence from alcohol, recent studies of its health benefits cannot be ignored.

Moderate consumption of alcohol is linked with good health, so is it right to deprive someone of alcohol when it is proven to be advantageous to one’s well-being? Moderation is the key for Aristotle, somewhere in between deficiency and excessiveness this golden mean of extremes is found. The golden mean then, appears to encourage a moderate consumption of alcohol. Surpassing moderation and acting in the world of excess is where most problems with the substance are found, along with its negative associations.

There are many examples of alcohol consumption in the Bible, suggesting its normalcy in society. For example Genesis 14:18 states: “(t)hen Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High.” This passage shows that wine was accepted by influential members of religious society and this suggests that there was no stigma towards the casual drinking of alcohol during biblical times.

While there are more positive connotations of alcohol use in the Bible, its negative side is also manifest, namely alcoholism and unruly drunkenness. There too are examples found in the Bible warning against the drinking of alcohol. In Proverbs 21:17 it is written, “(H)e who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.” Such words of warning again can be reconciled through moderation and awareness of the dangers.

The optimistic view that alcohol helps bring youth together in a social forum is not unanimously shared.

For many individuals, alcohol brings painful memories of personal loss, unnecessary violence, abandonment and other negative occurrences.

Teenagers are apparently less responsible than adults in Canada and its laws are reflective of this, but in countries like Greece, Spain, Slovenia, Norway and others there is no drinking age, only purchasing ages, all of which are lower than Canada’s.

In terms of health effects, the positives are staggering. Adults over age 65 who drank one to six alcoholic beverages over the course of the week turned out to have a lower risk of dementia than non-drinkers or heavier drinkers, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

Taken in moderation alcohol raises high-density HDL, known as good cholesterol, said Dr. R. Curtis Ellison, chief of the section of preventive medicine and epidemiology and professor of medicine and public health at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Alcohol then cannot be viewed as a negative thing. It is bad or good depending on its use and the intentions that are related to it; the benefits and disadvantages are known, moderation is the way.

(Telech, 18, studies theatre at York University in Toronto.)

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