This headline caught my eye today: “America is drunk.” Psychiatrist Keith Ablow cites new data from the Centers for Disease Control that reveals the crisis: One in six Americans downs eight mixed drinks within a few hours, four times a month. Twenty-eight percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 binge-drink five times every month. Thirteen percent of those between the ages of 45 and 65 do the same.
According to Dr. Ablow, this is equivalent to news that a quarter of our young people were abusing cocaine or injecting heroin more than once a week. He warns: “The psychological/cognitive effects of seven or eight drinks are no less intense, and, possibly, even more dramatic.”
What is behind this horrific trend? His answer: “My theory is that Americans are on a flight from reality” as we face “the precarious state of the economy, the gathering storm represented by militant Muslims, in general, and Iran, in particular, the crumbling state of marriage in this country, the fact that our borders are being overrun, and the fact that our health care insurance is in shambles (to name just a smattering of the troubles we desperately need to address).”
What are we doing in response? “We as a nation are drinking, drugging, gambling, smoking, Facebooking, YouTubing, Marijuaning, Kardashianing, Adderalling, Bono-ing (as in thinking of Chaz’s flight from reality as good), Prozacking, Twittering, and Sexting ourselves into oblivion.” Then the psychiatrist makes this claim: “The fact that we are doing this as a culture is the single most ominous psychological trend we have ever faced. I am not exaggerating.” What is the answer? According to Dr. Ablow, “The only antidote is the decisiveness of individuals to live their lives, to be present and to count–for real.”
The threat is very real and it is indeed ominous. But let’s think about his prescription that we become more self-reliant. Reread his list of the issues that have driven our nation into such a perilous state. What has produced them? How is self-dependence working for us?
Is there another way forward? The prophet could testify, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like a deer, he enables me to go on to the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19). The Apostle Paul, after describing his decision to submit himself completely to the authority and power of his Lord, could say in the face of life-threatening challenges, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Peter could walk on the Sea of Galilee until he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the wind and the waves (Matthew 14:29-30). Are you looking at the Savior or the storms this morning?