By Dr. Glenn Mollette
Every person in America should have the privilege of driving a car if they meet the qualifications. Requirements involve passing written and driving tests and passing a vision test. Enough incidents of driving violations or driving impaired can certainly curtail and even eliminate our privilege to drive an automobile.
Most everyone has made mistakes while driving a car. Most of us have driven too fast or crossed over the centerline or done something foolish while behind the wheel. Everybody makes mistakes in judgment.
An extreme mistake in judgment can bring about crippling results and even death to the driver or others on the highway. Traffic accidents and fatalities happen every day somewhere in America.
Most of us do not want to fathom what life would be without our car or at least subways, trains and planes. The concept of being stuck without transportation does not bode well with most of us.
On May 14, 1988 Larry Mahoney was driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 71 close to Carrollton, Kentucky. His blood alcohol concentration the night of the crash was .24 percent. The legal limit of .10 was obviously exceeded substantially. Mahoney would hit a school bus carrying a church group on a return trip from King's Island resulting in the death of 27 of the 67 passengers and becoming the deadliest incident involving drunk driving in United States history. Mahoney was said to have no memory of the crash and learned of the collision after waking in the hospital the next day. He would walk out of prison September 1, 1999 having served 10 years and 11 months.
Mahoney should never ever be allowed to drive again or drink alcohol. Yet, it's too late for those on that fatal bus crash. It only takes one drunk driving incident to kill many. Who or how would we have ever known Mahoney would do such a thing that he later would not even remember himself? We wouldn't. Mahoney didn't wake up on May 14,1988 with a determination to kill people. He did want others have done in consuming too much alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car. He was an impaired driver.
Too much alcohol impairs a person's judgment. Thus who are we to blame? Mahoney or the alcohol? Mahoney was sentenced to prison but bourbon whiskey cannot be made, stored and sold fast enough in Kentucky. Business is booming turning over a billion dollars in annual sales.
We put people in jail for DUIs and suspend drivers' licenses and imprison people like Larry Mahoney. We never blame the alcohol but the people who make stupid choices. Do we need to get some of the alcohol off the streets and out of the restaurants and out of the homes, etc.? It's not even a thought. The National Football League couldn't survive without beer and beer advertising. I'm thinking Kentucky couldn't survive without their share of the $825 million dollars in taxes just from the bourbon industry.
Yet, we don't push for new alcohol laws. Most every restaurant cries and screams until it can push the local government to go "wet." Alcohol is seen as the savior for every county or small town that is dry. Yet, alcohol is never blamed for anybody's problems. It's always the person who made bad choices.
Guns are now blamed for America's troubles. Guns do kill people when in the hands of the wrong person. What happened in Florida last week and every place where there has been a shooting is horrendous. Something must be done to keep guns and weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill. Now is the time to enact strict measures.
Crazy people do not need guns of any kind.
People feel it's their personal choice and freedom to consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes, pot, gamble and have unlimited access to pornography and opioids. I recently read one column that said opioids are killing more people in America than guns. I do believe there are some things that only impact the person personally and I am for people having the freedom to do what only impacts them. It's their life and if they choose to destroy it then it's their choice. However, most everything that your mom, dad, brother, sister or child does will impact you personally. Other people and society pay the price for your stupidity. I had loved ones who smoked all the time and it was their bodies and lungs but I inhaled a lot of that smoke as a kid and so have millions of others.
America is a free country. We feel we are entitled to everything. Are we really entitled to everything? Are we entitled to purchase hand grenades and bazookas? Are we entitled to own our own atomic weapons? Am I entitled to drive anything on the highway?
I don't own any assault rifles. I've never desired one. I have shotguns, and pistols. Those who own them feel it's their second amendment right and I support the second amendment. I just can't figure out why we have to have assault rifles. I've heard the rationale. We might need them to defend ourselves against bad government, ISIS and the list goes on. I'm not going to rule out that I will not buy one but I don't have the passion for owning one. I don't know why I would.
I wonder where our hope and trust is in America? It seems like our motto has become In Guns We Trust. Is a gun the answer for everything? I'm not giving up the Colt 45 on my bedside table. However, to so many it seems the answer to everything is more guns. Yes I do think we now need armed security about everywhere... schools, churches etc. However a society of more guns and more violence is a despairing and bleak forecast for this country.
For many the motto is In Drugs We Trust. The drug epidemic in America is catastrophic. Will Congress outlaw drugs? Will all pain medication be outlawed? Two million Americans are addicted to prescription opioids according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. An additional 600,000 are addicted to heroin and some estimates say over 59,000 people died from drug overdose deaths in 2016. Millions of Americans will do whatever it takes to get their opioids. Granted, in recent years lawsuits have been filed against drug manufacturers, pill clinics have been closed and there is now an awareness and some movement to deal with the issue.
Our problems in America are not pain medication, guns, welfare or even religion. Statistics support all these are abused.
Our problems are of the heart and soul. Are we good people today? Are Americans good people? Do we care about anybody else? How many people do you love and would get up in the middle of the night to go help if they called you? Is the world only about you and what you can get?
We quit teaching, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." We disposed of the second commandment that teaches love your neighbor as yourself. We stopped teaching thou shalt not kill. We took prayer out of schools and ripped the Ten Commandments off classroom walls. Are we now better for it?
I don't have the answer. I'm just like most other Americans treading water and climbing on the bumps of life.
I do know we must step back and stop attacking each other. Attacking each other, biting each other, devouring each other is only creating a chasm in this nation that is making us vulnerable to outside enemies. The best way to beat any team or defeat any group is to get that team or group fighting among them selves.
And then there is finally balance. Balance is about resolve, giving and taking and being willing to edit a bit. Whether it's guns, opioids, alcohol or most anything in our country finding a balance seems to be our greatest difficulty.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.
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