Nothing stirs the brew of controversy like a rousing discussion about the pros and cons of drinking adult beverages.

Do you partake of the elixir of the gods? If not, why not? Please take a moment to consider your answer. No kneejerk responses will do. Are you aware that it is possible to discuss this subject in a rational and unemotional manner? Oddly enough, many people are incapable of doing so.

Truth be told, once we get past the emotional element, the ultimate decision to drink or not to drink is decided by our upbringing. A family’s open-minded and logical approach is one path. For some people, their religious convictions or past experiences with alcoholic family members or friends is the determining factor.

Europeans are not quite as rigid about drinking alcoholic beverages as their more puritanical American counterparts. The reason is partly cultural and partly historical.

Can we agree that plain unflavored water is quite tasteless?  In more primitive and less industrialized times, the water available to the public could be and often was tainted. Water purification systems did not exist back then. Of course, spring water was pure but hard to come by in urban areas. And, it was still tasteless.

While traveling in Passau, Germany, our tour guide explained that the water available in the public square reached the fountain in the public square through lead pipes which sometimes contaminated the water. Consequently, the population received a generous ration of wine and beer for drinking. Having said that, if you have a choice between drinking something that tastes good as opposed to something that is bland, what would be your pick?

In countries like Germany and France, beer and wine were and still are locally produced and readily available. Shopping in your neighborhood is not a new advertising campaign concept, it makes sense. It made sense back in the old days as it does now.

Human nature being what it is, if something is forbidden, it is more alluring. Besides, people tend to go against rules. For example, they want to know why alcohol is forbidden and pious answers will not be a deterrent.

In European households, children are allowed to have a few drops of wine on special occasions along with everyone else. This practice removes the mystic behind drinking. Besides, not everyone likes the taste of alcohol, but at least they had the chance to find out in a safe environment. Such common sense approach did not mean people did not overindulge in the elixir of the gods. But such overindulgence was a case of bad judgment rather than tasting forbidden fruit.

In America, the puritanical ideas taint common sense and behavior. As a result, drinking and dancing are just some of the taboos which often resulted in experimentation and overindulgence. Frankly, it is human nature to push the limits. If someone says “Don’t drink,” that is a surefire way to achieve the opposite result.

When religious teachings push an anti-drinking agenda, we must remember that religion is one of the tried and true methods of crowd control. This fact was more valid in the Middle Ages than in modern times. For example statistically, the power wielded by say the Catholic Church is weaker in western countries than in third world countries. Education can be the enemy of religion, especially when the “educated” folk get it in their heads that they are above the control of organized religions.

Of course, a family gathering consisting of predominantly Baptist folk is not the best time for a discussion about drinking. But, it happened.

Hubby asked his sister “What was Christ’s first public miracle?” Then he followed up by answering his question. “Christ turned water into wine.” (The standard Baptist response is it was grape juice and not wine.)

At that point, Hubby’s wife piped up, “If it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us.”

There is nothing like the sound of silence to bring any serious discourse to an end.




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