I wonder how many people were killed this morning by a drunk driver. I also wonder how many people quit celebrating the New Year because it’s the anniversary of loved one’s death caused by a drunk driver. I doubt they feel like yelling, “Happy New Year!” Not when it reminds them of a tragedy caused by someone who made a selfish decision. I’ve made that selfish decision numerous times in the past and I’m relieved I didn’t kill anyone. To be perfectly honest, I think my punishment was too light for the one time I was caught driving while intoxicated. I can’t say I was surprised, though, because the judge who sentenced me had received multiple DWI convictions himself. You may find that hard to believe, but yes, he really was allowed to keep his job.
I had to attend some classes on alcoholism to keep my driver’s license following my DWI, and the facilitators were right to treat alcohol as a drug like any other. They made the case that its dangers aren’t limited to drunk driving or the drinker’s age. One of them mentioned the disgust he’d felt in a gas station when a child told his mom he wanted the “dog beer” (Red Dog), and she told him, “Not until you’re older.” A drug is a drug, no matter what the user’s age. He also made the point that people drink alcoholic beverages for intoxication by saying someone at a party who runs out of his favorite beer will usually drink a brand he says he hates the taste of. The alcohol in the beverage is what most drinkers want, especially when it comes to distilled beverages. Whereas refineries distill crude oil to extract gasoline, kerosene, wax, asphalt, etc., breweries like Jack Daniel’s distill fermented liquid to extract alcohol. They’re drug producers similar to the ones who turn opium into the stronger drug heroin.
I’ll use this teapot to explain how distillation works. The steam coming from it is the inch or so of invisible water vapor by the spout. What’s often called steam is actually the group of small droplets that form as the cooling vapor condenses back to liquid. (The cooler air is, the more of its vapor liquifies. We see this with dew on the ground and the condensation that occurs in the cold air around a glass of ice water.) Because different liquids convert to gas at different temperatures, you could separate the alcohol from a fermented juice by heating it to a temperature that boils only the alcohol and then redirects the steam to a separate container for condensation. This alcoholic “dew” gave rise to the slang term “mountain dew” for moonshine because it was commonly made in the mountains. That was before the term was trademarked as a lemon-lime mix for whiskey and then turned into a soda by altering its recipe. Most liquor sold in stores isn’t near as strong as old-fashioned mountain dew, but a less-potent drug is still a drug.
A lot of New Year’s resolutions are to quit drinking alcoholic beverages. That’s good, but I want people to take it farther than that. The apostle Peter listed drunkenness as just one of several sins a group of Christians had given up (I Pet. 4:1-3), and no one should wait until next year to make such an important decision. Who’s to say a person won’t die before then? As for those who plan to live in sin the rest of their lives, they should think about what they’re doing. They’re giving up an eternity of absolute paradise in exchange for what’s temporary. It’s now 2019 and 2020 is right around the corner. The years fly by, and the elderly think about their past, wondering where the time went.
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