Monday, September 7, 2009

Drinking Philosophy: A Study in America

Americas Puritanical Deprivation and Abstinence

I'd like to discuss in this post the habits of people in America who drink versus the European attitude.

First the American sensibilities were founded based on the puritanical philosophy, i.e. one must deprive oneself of all carnal lusts and temptations. This is further echoed in the protestant religions of the Bible Belt. And, it was canonized into the legal realm with the Blue Laws: no alcohol before a decent hour nor after a decent hour of the day; no alcohol on Sunday... etc. Also, the views of abstinence and puritanical eyes also falls into the same category: the naked body is an evil above all other evils to behold. All of this falls dangerously short in the area of violence. One can commit nigh heinous acts of violence for entertainment, but no drinking or smoking and definitely show no flesh.

All these prohibitions have led to one mindset: when i get a chance to drink, I will indulge myself to the fullest. In fact this philosophy is now accepted as the cool attitude towards drinking.

European Sensibilities Towards Drinking Alcohol

Let's quickly juxtapose this versus the European attitude toward drinking. It's actually a very archaic take on drink. During the bible age, i.e. the turn of the Julian calendar, one drank wine as much as one drank water. Of course, wine wasn't distilled to such a degree that four glasses would render you senseless and a buffoon, but it was as much a part of the meal as bread, and they ate a lot of bread. Consider one wheat stalk to make 12 loafs of unleavened bread [i made that up, I've never personally seen a wheat stalk], but you get the idea.

Now the modern European shares the same attitude as those ancient people. He eats his meal and drinks wine with it. Also if he wants to enjoy a liqueur he'll retire after the meal and have a nice discussion and a glass, not 5-10 and definitely not enough to render him stumbling. He knows he has to get on with his life, and can't be hampered by nursing a hangover. In fact it is looked down upon if one is drunk or can't handle the liquor. The attitude is, one shouldn't partake if one is going to be rendered drunk. This self same attitude of do not deprive oneself, is also seen in their view of nudity in public. One should be free to experience the world and be nude. There isn't then a rash of drunkards, nor and outbreak of rapists. In fact the Europeans are quite normal in their every day life.

Wish this familiarity with alcohol, from an early age, and exposure to nudity the European attitude is very nonchalant toward drinking. Compare that to Americans and we're seen as ravening beasts when we get our hands on alcohol. Also pubs, bars, lounges and such are hang outs for far more people overseas, so the club owner or bar owner doesn't have to greedily get everyone drunk in the place to make a profit. Imagine if 10 times more people come into your bar, there would be no need to encourage them to drink. You'd have your hands full serving alcohol anyway.
I don't have the statistics but when i lived in Europe I wasn't struck as it being serious nor heard of drunk driving as an issue at all. Iin fact, I don't believe I knew a homeless person or a drunkard.

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