Sin is in
When I moved here in the early ’80s it was sort of depressing to watch the downtown sink. Now, it is rather comforting at one level to see the downtown parking full and new restaurants opening up. Not finding a parking place is not so much an inconvenience as it is a wonderment. If having to deal with traffic once in a while means Johnson City has started to blossom, I’ll take it.
It would be easy to think of Johnson City now as sin city worse than when it was accused of that 35 years ago. If being sin city gets us more people, more parks, better schools, better streets, livelier downtown, then so be it. There are too many examples of small cities quietly dying on the vine instead of forcing a change. I do not care to live in a ghost town.
Planning is still critically important. The craft beer craze mustn’t be allowed to run roughshod. Landlords will still have to be beat with a stick to clean up their buildings. Businesses with a broader appeal will need encouragement to help ease the transitions. This sounds easy. Whether we’re good at this or just lucky, only time will tell.
Drinking is a dangerous game
I have firm convictions about the widespread use of craft beer, as I have many contacts in an ongoing volunteer relationship with addicted persons. A person in the recovery occupation said last week that about 50 percent of the homeless are in that condition due to alcohol. I doubt prospective industries would be impressed.
Some think it is only the unfortunates living under the bridge that are affected. I assure you I meet people from many occupations: airline pilot, student, pastors (really), housewifes and many others. That is precisely how the bridges, woods, etc., become a home. You would be shocked to learn of the deaths in Johnson City that we have due to alcohol.
Some may say, “I drink and have no problems.” My response is that it resembles Russian roulette. Very seldom will one intend to lose their life or family deliberately. One does not know their tolerance to the drug. The first craft beer drink will often open the door to a bad surprise.
The publicity in your newspaper for the craft beer companies encourages consumption. Did you ever drive downtown on the weekend late at night? You will see many well dressed young persons walking the streets. I wonder, if alcohol were removed from the popular drinks, would there be any interest?
A sobering proposition
Civic-minded entities such as the press, service clubs, employers, governments and nonprofits champion those things they think promote the public good such as the arts, education, recreation, parks, trails, sports and roadways.
The promotion of beer drinking/tasting as in the public interest is hardly in the same league. The social ills associated with lack of moderation with intoxicants are well known, including alcoholism, unwanted pregnancies, and impaired driving. Festivals and businesses that seek to associate “good times,” sophisticated behavior and the new “norm” with beer drinking are thinly disguised calls for greater consumption. Those that benefit from such promotions are small in number compared to the detrimental impacts to the public at large.
We should not aid these efforts by touting beer as the next best thing to sliced bread. If we accept such promotions, what other intoxicants will we next be asked to tolerate?
Beer is here. Is it the answer to urban decay? I think not! Think soberly! It’s our civic duty to not encourage greater consumption. The risks are just too great.
Keep an eye out each week for another Question of the Week, but you may send us letters about any topic important to you. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].