The Sunday Star-Times had three excellent articles on this subject.
Finlay MacDonald discusses his youth drinking war-stories and the observation, "There but for the grace of god go I."
I totally understand because I can say the same - When i grew up in Mosgiel, at 15 and 16 we drank to get drunk. Someone, often everyone, was sick, someone usually coma-ed out, another asleep in the gutter or a garden. We were lucky to make it through too, very lucky indeed.
As Finlay says in his final paragraph,
"And while all that takes the several lifetimes it will to have any effect, pray your teenager doesn't become one of the tragic statistics any culture that sanctions the mass promotion and consumption of a powerful psychoactive drug will always and inevitably produce."Why is this happening and how did we let it get to this.
An article by Richard Boock gives us a glimpse - liquor advertising, sport and money.
We ask out young people to be sportsmen and women, to train to be the best they can be, meanwhile all of the uniforms are splashed with alcohol companies, the advertising, the image. What are we teaching our youth, what are they learning about alcohol and society.
Nicely stated by Richard,
"Even then, it was surprising to hear tennis' Heineken Open director Richard Palmer claiming earlier this month that the event would be placed in jeopardy if the sponsorship from Heineken was lost.
"When you think of Steinlager you think of the All Blacks, and when you think of the All Blacks you think of Steinlager," he said, apparently oblivious to the point he was making. The thought that primary school kids watching the All Blacks are sub-consciously developing a relationship with alcohol is precisely the problem with liquor advertising in sport."And it is a big problem indeed.
It is time to really consider this question of the 'culture of alcohol abuse' in this country.
Rosemary McLeod states
"But anyone who goes out late at night and looks for teenagers will find them drunk, comatose, violent, stupid, endangered, and running wild. These are our daughters and sons, shagging someone they met five minutes ago, throwing up and collapsing in their own vomit, picking fights over imagined slights and driving cars they can't control. Don't imagine your own aren't among them.This has happened and is happening and will happen into the future unless we actually address the issues causing that 'culture'.
One of the issues causing the 'culture' is the situation regarding the indigenous people of this country. The tangata whenua - maori.
The injustice that has occured has created a country with a crooked foundation. This is manifest in many ways , from 'The cinema of Unease', to the rates of child abuse. And alcohol abuse and the 'culture of drinking' is another manifestation.
Are we trying to not think about the underlying structure of the country we love? Are we trying to forget so that we can get on with being one country? We know wrong has been committed and we know people have been hurt and we know, deep inside, that we must fix these things yet we struggle to do that because short-term politicians don't really think about the good of all in society. If they did they would accept the reality of what has happened here and then we could move into a different phase, a phase of rebuilding. But rebuilding from correct foundations. When those foundations are fixed then the legitimate pride in this country and all it's citizens can manifest instead of the twisted abuse that comes forth at the moment.
By resetting the foundations of this country we restore mana. This flows onto all people. Everyone's mana is enhanced. We cannot fix our societal problems without looking at the society that has created the problems. It is time to front up.
And it can be done - just consider the haka that James's friends gave for him. It didn't matter how many maori were there, it was the feeling, the emotion - that is what the haka is about - that is the connection between peoples. Te ao maori is inclusive and that haka was a great example of that.