Hi folks. In my last post I said ask me anything. One should always be careful of what they ask for, right? Okay, today’s post is dedicated mainly to responding to one reader’s question. Here’s the question in his own words.
Dear Ms MacLeod,
In your post on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, you solicited questions from readers. I have a question, but don’t want to sound disrespectful or disparaging. I’m just going to ask and hope you realize that there is no disrespect intended:
In Fortunate Fire, the reference is most blatant, but it occurs here and there in the St John’s series, too. Most concisely, the reference is “alcohol is a depressant, why would you want to be depressed?”
The sentence “alcohol is a depressant” has veracity only if the word “depressant” is used in the pharmaceutical sense meaning sedatives, tranquilizers, anxiolytics and other substances that induce sleep, relieve stress and allay anxiety. Medically they “depress” (meaning slow down) the central nervous system and one of the results is relaxation of muscles.
The sentence “why would you want to be depressed” makes sense only if the word “depressed” is used in the psychological meaning of sad, despondent, desolate, melancholy, desperate, gloomy, unhappy, etc.
Using the same word with two different meanings is called the fallacy of equivocation.
How is it that none of those people addressed ever respond with “I don’t want to be depressed, and that’s why I’m taking a depressant.”? This is a similarly equivocal statement which creates a word play with the two different meanings based on recognition that relaxation and stress-relief is one of the best possible treatments for psychological depression.
Historically alcohol has been long recognized to be a happy-making “depressant”. (As opposed to “depressed-making”). Alcohol is called “spirits” because it has historically been recognized to make people happy, ie, “lift their spirits”. Euripides says, “Wine is the happy antidote for sorrow.” The Bible says, in Judges 9:13, “Wine cheereth God and man”.
Psalms 104:15, Wine that maketh glad the heart of man.
Homer: Wine can…make the sage frolic, and the serious smile.
Ovid: When there is plenty of wine, sorrow and worry take wing.
Plato: [Wine is] a remedy for the morseness of old age.
Seneca: Wine is a perfect cure for heaviness and sorrow.
Aristophanes: When men drink, then they are rich and successful and win lawsuits and are happy and help their friends. Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.”
John Milton: Wine, one sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise and taste.
George Saintsbury: It is the unbroken testimony of history that alcoholic liquors have been used by the strongest, wisest, handsomest, and in every way best races of all time. (Notes on a Cellar-Book)
And most interestingly, Thucydides: The people of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learnt to cultivate the olive and the vine.
Happy! Think happy!
Okay, this man is a friend, and I get the sense here he is playing the devil’s advocate. Sorry, but alcohol is a depressant, period. You cannot separate the two. For every happy drinker I can two who are not. I began a torrid affair with alcohol at a young age and the break up wasn’t pretty.
In my personal experience I have held young girls in my arms after they were raped by drunken relatives, I have bandaged children after they were beaten by drunken parents, I have carried broken women from alleyways behind bars, and worse by far was to hold the hand of a parent whose child was killed by a drunk driver.
I have been attacked at a party by a friend who drank too much and I will not repeat the threats uttered by the man who had his hands around my throat. I have seen lifelong friendships ended by a third glass of wine and loose lips and I have held a drunken woman back while the husband she gouged with a broken beer bottle went to hospital.
And I was still under thirty with two small children. My father-in-law of the time was a mean drunk.
I took a hard look at my life and realized that if I avoided alcohol and the places where it was served, life would be very different and far more peaceful. Some of the worst and most dangerous events of my life had alcohol at their core. I quit drinking altogether and began to avoid those who did hoping for a better life. That has proven true.
Having said all that, there is alcohol in my home, although it is an extremely rare occasion that I use it. I still like it, but I recognize the taste of my enemy on my lips. I have a sip from time to time to remind myself of the danger and how easily I could become addicted again. I’m over thirty years sober and it is a lifestyle I do recommend.
So there you have it; the story behind my dislike of drinking. Gordon pointed out the good side of a drink or two, but I have seen the dark side; it still scares me.
Okay, now to my ROW80 confessions. I’ve barely managed to write 2K words this week due to other madness going on around me. (Sorry, I had a list of excuses, but the dogs ate it.) I did read and comment on a few blogs though; that should count. hee hee hee.
Ah well, this is the start of a new week. Yep, I’m still up for it, ask me anything. I do love to hear from you. J