I’ve never understand why so many people feel that they have to numb larger portions of their brain in order to party. Shaving off a handful of IQ points with ethanol has not made anybody I’ve ever met become a better friend, a more interesting conversationalist, or a more valuable person. But it has made some smart people stupid, a lot of stupid people even stupider. Yet these people think alcohol is ab absolute necessity for partying. “Dude, it was an awesome party! I woke up on somebody’s floor and can’t even remember what happened. You should have been there … uh, were you there?”
As with marijuana, the juiced-up drug-deluded mind feels like it is more creative and interesting. This reminds me of a story from Polish literature told my some Polish immigrants to my son (let me know if you know the author). In this story, a man experiments with liquor and drugs. While stoned, he has a remarkable idea that he knows can change the world. His mission in life becomes clear, and he will pursue this idea and revolutionize society. When he becomes sober, he can’t remember what the idea was, but knew it was brilliant. He gets stoned again, and the idea returns, so clear and exciting. After he sobers up, all is forgotten. The third time, he gets a notebook so he can write down his revolutionary vision. He gets stoned again, the idea returns, he writes it down, and when he awakes later, he looks at his notebook to see what he has captured: “If I stand on a chair, I can touch the ceiling.”
Of course, at some parties, when people start standing on chairs and tables, it’s usually not the ceiling they will be encountering next. When they wake up, they are always somewhere lower than where they began.
In Wisconsin, we have one of the nation’s finest schools, UW Madison. Tens of thousands of students from all over the world come to this huge and really wonderful campus, where billions of dollars have been invested to provide some of the most outstanding educational opportunities in the world. Parents are thrilled when their children get accepted and go to this campus for four years. And parents like to think that their children are becoming highly educated. That happens for many, but the tragedy is that the campus, like so many in the nation, is plagued with alcohol abuse. Students I know there explain that alcohol use is disgustingly rampant among those staying in the dorms. Adult guidance of students to protect them from sex, booze, and other drugs is so desperately needed there but seems relatively absent. 59% percent of students in one recent survey admitted to binge drinking (five or more alcoholic drinks at one sitting) during the previous two weeks. Ouch.
The University takes federal grants to better deal with the problem and says a lot about helping students live healthy lifestyles, and many officials are working to help kids be more responsible and wise, but the reality seems to be that almost anything goes in the dorms, as with most universities. (Part of that is the influence of Federal regulations and the efforts of the ACLU, but that’s another story.) A lot of kids try to be responsible, and some stay out of trouble and focus on education. But the alcohol problem is hard to escape for many, and is more severe in Madison than in typical universities. What a disservice to education, to the students, and to their families when our universities condone the party lifestyle on campus.
At UW Madison, I know of two non-LDS students from Appleton, two courageous and wonderful young women, who have decided to simply stay away from alcohol. In their on-campus dorm, it is extremely difficult to do this. (I can sympathize with those who yield to the pressures, for the pressure is great and relentless, but how much better it is to strengthen rather than weaken your mind and body while pursuing education.) These two girls may be the only ones on their entire floor with that level of self-control, and I salute them for their courage. I have no doubt that they will be among the most intelligent graduates a few years from now.
As a parent, though, I’d rather send my kids to a place like BYU where they won’t be pressured by most of their peers to engage in binge drinking or any kind of alcohol use, and where they won’t be as likely to be viewed by their peers as refugees from the Dark Ages if they aren’t promiscuous. There’s more to education than the height of the money pile your school gets from Uncle Sam, or the number of publications faculty members have. I’m glad there are at least a few schools in this nation that encourage mental acuity by actively prohibiting drugs and alcohol.
Wherever you are, why not retain some of the benefits of education by avoiding alcohol from now on? In the LDS view, it’s not just a good idea, it’s a valuable tip for success revealed by God.