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FIRST-PERSON: Make the final days of year sober ones

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–As 2002 draws to a close many of us will enjoy time with family and friends during the Christmas and New Year holidays. By the time this article reaches its readers, many of the celebrators will be returning to work. However, some will not. Many will have fond memories to immortalize in the archives of the family photo-album. And many will be mourning the untimely loss of a loved one.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, (MADD), there were 4,943 fatal automobile accidents during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays last year. During the Christmas holiday there were 281 deaths caused by drunk driving. There were 181 deaths attributed to drunk driving during the New Years holiday.

Statisticians for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimate that nearly half of all Americans drink. This organization has reported in its 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse that 46.6 percent of the population conceded that they had consumed alcohol within the past month at the time of the survey. This high percentage indicates a large possibility for there to be some who drink alcohol among those who read this article.

To these we would encourage abstinence over the holiday season. Furthermore, we are asking each of our readers to adopt this final week of the year 2002 as “Days of Sobriety.” We make this plea not from a moral platform, but from a position of empathy.

As 1997 neared an end, Ted Stone asked the Durham County Commissioners to declare December 24 and 25 “Days of Sobriety.” He refused to give in to those who recommended that the proclamation speak of “responsible drinking.” Stone, who then was planning for his second walk across America, said that, “The young people of his community deserve to enjoy a holiday season that is free from family scenes where drunken relatives curse and hurt both physically and mentally those nearest to them. They deserve to have a holiday without a telephone conversation informing a family member that some drunken driver has killed their kin. Let’s do it for our children,” he urged the county leaders, and they issued the formal proclamation.

Stone carefully placed posters proclaiming days of sobriety in front of every liquor store to remind citizens of the special emphasis. He asked county politicians and law enforcement leaders to join him at the courthouse where they would be asked to sign a commitment to totally abstain from alcoholic beverages during these two special days as an example to others. Those assembled carefully penned their signatures to the document before the eyes of the local media.

Christians have traditionally chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ during this time of year. We proclaim that, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” This being the case, it seems reasonable to conclude that especially during this time we, as Christians, ought to hold high the banner of our savior with sober hands. Our children and those with whom we hold influence have placed their trust in us. Their trusting eyes are fixed upon us, observing all that we do. What type of examples will we set for them? We invite you to join with us in proclaiming these final few days of this year as “Days of Sobriety.”

Stone and Philip Barber will be speaking on Jan. 5 at Parkview Baptist Church in Moorehead City, N.C. On Jan. 6, they will be speaking at a dinner for the Atlantic Baptist Association. On Jan. 11 the ministry partners will be in Florida speaking at a rally hosted by the Jacksonville Baptist Association for teenagers and parents.
Stone and Barber, of Durham, N.C., are coauthors of two books on alcohol and drug abuse, “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Hurts” and “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Cares,” both available from LifeWay Christian Stores.

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  • Ted Stone & Philip Barber