Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"How many deaths does it take till we..."

"The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind." So sang Peter, Paul and Mary many years ago, in a song protesting war. The same song could be sung about our abuse of alcohol. "How many deaths does it take..." ... I got distracted while I had a morning cup of coffee today and started browsing the internet news.

A woman was killed and another severely injured while stopping for a cup of coffee on the side of the road near Otaki. A drunken driver couldn't take a corner at speed and brought one lady's life to an end and untold sadness, pain and grief into many more lives. Accidents happen, but this in my book was needless murder.

In another incident a 21st party descended into a brawl "fueled by alcohol". A young 22 year old man is in a hospital in an induced coma with brain damage, the party a disaster and so much more unnecessary anguish brought into life.

In Nelson some drunk sailors off a NZ Navy ship terrorized a family home and had to be carted back to the ship by the police. In the space of a few days these were just some of the sad incidents that abuse of alcohol caused. If we were to list all the damage done last weekend, all the ruined nights, the upset lives, injuries and the disrupted relationships the list would be very long and very sad.

Legislators are trying to think how they can limit alcohol access or do something to curb this sort of abuse. I will often sit in conversations in work places where they talk and joke about social nights where they drank to excess. Often they staggered home the next morning to disrupt family life. It is all a big joke with excesses and sometimes the consequences being laughed about. But "how many deaths" (and other damage) "does it take till we" start taking real care about the way we party? I am not a tee total wowser, but I just think we need to start drinking responsibly. I had to take a funeral earlier in the year for a young man killed by a mixture of alcohol and drugs. His mother says the "pain will never go away".

We all think that such sad things won't happen to us, but they can, we increase the risks the more often we over indulge. Often too the sadnesses and impact are accumulated over a period of time and damage is done to people, relationships and to our own sense of well being.

I was "hit" today browsing the news items and reflecting on conversations in workplaces with the damage abuse of alcohol does in NZ communities. It is an immense problem and, apart from anything else, economically expensive. It is people's lives though, that are hurt, wasted and curtailed. I had to let off steam about this aspect of our culture. "The answer my friend is blowing in the wind." We individuals have to take action, enjoy life, but enjoy it responsibly.

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