We live only once, many of us believe. And therefore some say let us eat, drink and be merry. Surely we must eat, drink and be merry now that we believe that we live only once, but must live like men and women, free from health hazards, free from unnecessary cares and worries. So, eating and drinking is alright as long as we know what to accept and what to avoid. Unfortunately many of us do not have discrimination. Like the notorious Epicurus, we mistake one for the other and do not know what we do. So we substitute that fluid which nature provides us so bounteously with something else and invite ills unspoken of and live like wrecks, with untold miseries.
The urban elites drink to the health of their friends and fall of their foes. They drink for old times, to ring out the old year and to ring in the New Year. They drink when they set out to negotiate for a big contract as a good omen, drink during negotiations and drink again when they win it as a token of joy and success; and yet once again, to win more such contracts. When they welcome their friends, or bid them farewell, when in company for the sake of company, when alone to end the monotony of loneliness, before dinner as an appetizer, after it as a digester, it is a must. No time frame, no time schedule, any time is drink time. No prohibitions, no inhibitions.
His counterpart in the village or the slum dweller in the city is not far behind. He may sometimes worry about his next meal, but nothing of the type as far as his drink is concerned. In fact, it is to drive out his worry that he often drinks. But it is the country liquor that he drinks. In the evening, on his way home, he stops on the way to gulp his favorite drink, to drown the fatigue of his day long labour; unfortunately his weak under nourished body cannot tolerate the intake and it rebels. His legs wobble, his mind wanders, and his tongue prattles.
There is no escape from the spell of this Bacchus’ potion, young or old, rich and poor, without exception they wait for their turn to get their favorite nectar, like demons and gods (Rakshasas and Devathas) – waiting for amrit. Finally they become addicts; even gods cannot redeem them. Merciful death alone must save them.
Drinking is not a personal problem. The moment a drunken man sits behind the driving wheel, it becomes a problem to the sea of people who are out on the roads, and to the traffic officer and finally when the accident takes place, it becomes a law and order problem, besides creating numerous problems in the two families, that of the drunken driver and his innocent victim. If it is a rich man who is an addict, it will not be a strain on his financial status; but if it is a poor man, he will become a thief and robber in his own house; and a regular customer to the pawn shop. He would not hesitate to beat his wife, if she dares to oppose him. He will not only wreck his health but also his family life.
Alcoholism aside, there is another evil that has become a cult among young men and women, mostly rich and educated. One fine evening the young student suddenly discovers that there is a lot of communication gap between him and his. Elders; he seeks the company of his friends who are wiser than his elders, and all these fellow travelers take refuge in hallucinations. They get the euphoria they are searching for. They recede to a lonely spot and smoke a joint, inhale a coke or inject a needle. This becomes a regular affair and in course of time they become addicts. Finally they reach a stage from where there is no come back. If they stop, they die for it; if they take they die with it. Either way, death alone must be the way out.
These misguided youths set out to grab the reflection I instead of the original. No doubt the world is at cross roads and the gap between the older and the younger generation is widening in every walk of life. Their thoughts differ, their ambitions differ; the paths they pursue and the means they adopt too vary. They are born out of discontent, bred in discontent and breathe discontent – the discontent resulting from the polluted political, economic and social conditions. Even in the most advanced industrial nations, there is unemployment; the most solid political structures are crumbling like mud walls and the moral values that have guided the older generations through thick and thin, are fast vanishing. No wonder if the weak willed seek easy ways to bring down the pressure mounting in their heads. Instead of water pools they go after mirages.
If they are detected at an early state, they can be resurrected; rehabilitation is easy. But when they become despicable addicts, the disease becomes terminal, and not even the surgeon’s scissors can then redeem them.
It is an accepted fact that prevention is always better than cure. But who will bell the cat? The parents who are preoccupied with their own problems and predilections find little time to think of their children. Even if they find time, it is too difficult for them to bridge the widening gap that separate the two generations, come down to their level, think like them and think with them. Even if all this is possible, it is again too difficult to inspire and motivate them, in the changing environment. When they say that the end justifies the means how can you convince them that the means are as important as the end? When dishonesty and deceit seem to thrive, how can you prove that honesty is the best policy?
The problem is not as superficial as it appears to be. It is not the problem of the individual parents alone or the erring youth. When your addict friends tell you that you can have the taste of heaven in a puff of a joint, how can you suppress the temptation, innocent as you are? Satan could tempt the first man and his wife and make them eat the forbidden fruit against the command of God Himself. Will anyone be guided by the statutory warning that smoking is injurious to health and give up smoking? So the first culprit is the easy availability of these alluring fruits. The manufacturer, whose only aim is to make money, will produce; the trafficker will open outlets for their sale and the government which is interested in collecting duties and taxes regularizes them. The party that declares prohibition as its manifesto opens road side shops to sell sealed sachets of half liter nutritious country liquor when it comes to power. Instead of scrapping the wet laws, it auctions toddy shops and regulates its sales.
Kingdoms and countries are involved in the production and distribution of these abominable drugs. For all external appearances, they are people of authority wealth and respect that are involved in this world wide industry. Nobody can suspect that they play a different part in a different world where they have their own rules and code of conduct. Bui these invisible men have unbelievably great power and influence. They can abduct anyone in the world, assassinate ministers and prime ministers and change governments there is no crime they cannot commit, no act they cannot accomplish.
The solution lies in educating the people. When the realise that it is not heaven that they taste, but hell with all horrors imperceptible, they will accept their folly and give of their habits. We have far to go before we hope to have such a welfare state.