Saturday, November 22, 2008

What if 'Enough' was 'Too much' ?

I'm delighted to report that baby Jesus has been turned around in the outdoor nativity scene to face the Owain Glyndwr. The recumbent figure has wide open arms, to embrace the world, symbolically, in the old tradition of Christ child images. It's not exactly great art - at a cursory glance it looks as if the Babe of Bethlehem is stretched out sun bathing on top of a bird's nest. Maybe that will incite the curiosity of some. I'm also glad to report that the third king has shown up. No doubt I'll hear the story of the late arrival some time in the coming week.

Captain Eric Smith, bandmaster of the Grangetown Salvation Army Corps emailed me in response to my including him in an ecumenical round-robin announcing the 'Enough is Enough' campaign web-site sign up. "I couldn't sign up" he reported wryly; "There was no button to register a total abstainer." A healthy reminder that there are still plenty of people around, Christian as well as Muslim, for whom 'Enough' is 'Too Much'. It's not a fashionable position. It's a bit like conscientious objection to resolving conflict by violence. It asserts the principle that life can be lived pleasurably without this intoxicant. It's an implicit rejection of a type of consumerism, its massive industry and promotion of consumer lifestyle, on which the public coffers rely to balance the books, by taxation.

Just imagine what it would do to the economic crisis if suddenly the entire adult population renounced alcohol and stuck to their resolve. Imagine the juggling of accounts that Whitehall would have to engage in to cover lost revenue from customs and excise, increased expenditure on booze industry redundancies, decreased expenditure on public law & order, and A&E crisis management (although long term health issues would take generations to show savings because of damage to health working its way through the population already). Our lives for better and worse are so totally intertwined with alcohol in all its forms, that 'Enough' is as much as it is safe to advocate. Renunciation would, in its way, be admirably subversive of society if it ever caught on in a really big way.

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