Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
Yoshiaki Sato’s October 27, 2009 article “Young women, make sake a ‘good friend,’” facetiously glosses over a host of alcohol-related facts and social evils, and offers some very bad advice and misguided notions about social drinking. At the best of times alcohol is only a fair weather friend - occasional bad company, a bad friend as the writer describes - which is another way of saying that it is not a true and proper friend at all.
Alcohol is a drug. That’s okay if drugs are what you like, but let’s not deliberately misrepresent it and try to sound glib or witty while doing it. Alcohol is more harmful, affective and addictive than marijuana, but with the benefit of being legal. Many things can accurately be described as healthful if taken in moderation - outlawed narcotics and stimulants included. So affidavits of healthful effects with moderate consumption are an insufficient recommendation. Regular alcohol consumers are drug addicts. Drunks are those who have taken an overdose and are in need of hospitalization and therapy. The excitement that Sato associates with drinking is actually the rush of an addict getting his fix more than the joy of good human relations.
I propose that alcohol does not enhance one’s experience of life so much as moderates it. For that reason it is an inappropriate lifelong companion because it robs us of, or diminishes our experience of existential authenticity. Drinkers, especially heavy drinkers, are self-loathing, anti-social misfits. Drinking, especially forced group drinking is in fact extremely antisocial, hateful and abhorrent. The prevalence of drinking in Japanese culture is evidence of the deep disharmony here that can only be tolerated in the miasma of drunken darkness and forgetfulness. That’s no way to live.
We would do much better in life without the alcohol industry. But I could be wrong.