Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Liquory dickory dock!!!

“Excusheeeee meeee madam, can you help me pleasshhe?” One need not even look to know where this comes from. But I was curious and also a bit concerned that this was a sound directly in front of my house in Thiruvalla, Kerala. My mother took it upon herself to address the situation at hand but that didn’t mean I was out of the equation. I held my breath and listened to the conversation that ensued.

“What do you want?”, my mother asked to the man who had come to our house. “I am a poor man and I need help to marry off my daughter.” My mother’s detective instincts must have worked over time as she replied, “You are stinking of liquor. How can you lie using your daughter’s name?” After a few attempts at denying the charge the man finally said, “Atleast give some money in the name of the service I am doing for the government.” “And what is that?”, asked mother. “I am drinking and through that making sure that the government is getting excise revenue. So you see, I am helping the government!!” Maybe I should let go of what happened afterwards and get to the issue at hand.

The previous blog was about the famous drunkard of Kerala, who has managed to even become a hit with spectators of cultural programmes and a few movies. This is the person who people like to laugh at. But laughing wont take away the gravity of the situation in Kerala. It is not the fact that Kerala has the highest per capita consumption of liquor in the country but the fact that twelve and thirteen year olds have started drinking and it affects their formation as individuals and even leads them to indifferent acts. Road accident deaths numbered 3,066 and 51,352 people were injured in 41, 306 accidents in 2004. (1)

The church as always has been in the forefront of asking for a total ban on liquor. (2) A.K. Antony, a former chief minister of Kerala even banned the sale of country made liquor (arrack) in 1996. (3) But the sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor continues and the natural toddy drink available in Kerala is now adulterated by an illicit liquor lobby. The church has not thought of a different way of looking at the situation yet.

The writing on the wall is very much visible for those who care to read it. 1. Drinking in Kerala has increased over the years and the minimum age of children who start drinking has decreased. 2. Christians also form a good part of this number and schools run by Christians also have students who start drinking early. 3. Is liquor the problem or is it the way we use it, that is the problem? 4. Will the church ever consider preaching ‘responsible drinking’ to it’s members? 5. The people of Kerala (including me) are comfortable to make fun of the poor drunkards while we remain quiet to the excesses of the rich who drink and drive and cause accidents and death. 6. Will having open talks on drinking and driving, responsible drinking and legal age limit for drinking, remain a taboo in Christian schools, similar to sex education?

Maybe it’s time to discuss these things in church? Maybe it’s time we opened our eyes to what is happening in the world around us? Maybe it’s time we accepted where we are today?

(1), viewed on 1-10-2008
(2), viewed on 1-10-2008
(3), viewed on 1-10-2008


Vin said...

churches and other religious guiding institutions need to change along with the times. definitely high time to address these issues.. the facts u mentioned abt little children was disturbing...pray save them plsss

Fr Jerry said...

Churches and other institutions never look at the future and work on the young generation. We start thinking only when everything has already gone out of hand.

Tom said...

People drink for different reasons.

I feel that the most important factor is lack of a cultural life in kerala.

when people have extra time and energy they want to enjoy life. In the past people used to do this by getting together to sing and dance.

What we call cultural activities today is limited to some people who perform on the stage.others just sit in chair and try to enjoy.

But each person should be able to perform art forms which give them satisfaction.
Art and cultural activities are not needless luxuries but necessary boon which can make a person more humane and responsible.

It is useless to try to remove liquor from life if dont care about the mind of people.

And cultural activities should not be always linked to religious themes.

Fr Jerry said...

Your suggestion is interesting. My concern is that anything in excess is a cause for concern. Our culture tries to say that something is good and another is bad. But nothing is bad by itself. It's the way we use it that makes something good or bad.