Sunday, March 05, 2006

How to help...

I'm about to illustrate a point with humor. I don't generally like doing this, but, well, follow along, keeping in mind that I've given you fair warning, okay?

I have this new idea for treating alcoholics.

First, everyone who has a problem with alcoholism should be monitored by the government. Then, if they're caught drinking, or, and this is important, not proving that they're not drinking, we send a guy over to beat the hell out of them.

Or a woman. I mean, no need to be sexist; a woman can kick a person's ass just as well as a guy can.

Now, before some whiny liberal starts throwing a fit, let me emphasize that I'm not talking about broken bones or anything like that. Nothing worse than bruises. Sure, maybe a bloody nose or a split lip, but don't worry, the government agents will wear protective clothing to avoid bloodborne pathogens.

I know this sounds pretty extreme, but you need to understand that alcoholism is damaging to a person, and to society as a whole. By ending alcoholism in this manner, we'll be reaping the benefits of this for generations to come.

I'm sure some people will say that this is too expensive, or even that it's immoral. Some whiny people might even say that, no matter how painful it is to see an alcoholic suffering, you should just offer help, and then grit your teeth and wait until the alcoholic asks for help. Some might even say that, no matter how much good can be accomplished, the end can't justify the means. All I can say is that they clearly don't understand how devastating alcoholism is to the alcoholic and to society. The best part is, once the drunks are all sobered up, the other drug addicts might start cleaning up their acts, out of fear that they might be next.

I expect the full support of all who supported the invasion of Iraq... because, after all, there's no real difference.

In both cases, an outsider decides what is best for another... and imoses a solution by force.

Oh, there are some differences. Beating up an alcoholic is a bit more precise than a military strike. You're less likely to accidentally hurt or kill innocent people. You can test whether a person is still drinking, so you have a better idea of how well your program is working.

Oh, yeah... and people understand the idea of beating up an alcoholic. They can imagine being beaten up themselves. It's not like a bunch of news reports from a far away land, where they can say "but the media isn't reporting the good news!"

So, what do you think? Does it make the point? Or is it horribly unfair because invading Iraq, and hurting a lot of innocent people in hopes of bringing about a democracy is very different from beating up a bunch of drunks in hope of bringing about sobriety?

Maybe it is different. The principle still remains. War is a terrible evil, whose only redeeming quality is that it is sometimes better than what will happen if you don't fight. Too many people have blanked out the horrors of war because of an extremely well-put together sales campaign by the Bush administration.

Those of us who opposed the war, it wasn't about hating Bush, loving Saddam, or about thinking that the Iraqis didn't deserve a democratically elected government. It was a matter of looking at the means, and saying that even the noblest of ends does not justify those means. You don't invade a nation, and cause suffering, for that nation's "own good".

Yes, it's horrible to imagine Iraq still being under Saddam Hussein's control... but I've seen people slip slowly into a death spiral as a result of alcoholism or drug abuse, and trust me, that's a horrible thing to watch as well.

Sometimes, no matter how painful it is, you have to watch, and wait, until you have an opportunity to help. As much as you might be tempted to force a person, or a nation, to accept your help, it's simply not right. It's not right, and it might substitute one set of problems for another that's equally bad.

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