News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Maybe war should be waged on an additional scourge

EVANSTON, Ill. (BP)–Let me invite you to guess what I’m talking about, whether the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 or the drunk driving epidemic in America:

Men consumed with unholy agendas steer tons of metal and explosive fuel into thousands of unsuspecting innocents. The impact is horrific, mangling and incinerating bodies, tearing families and dreams to shreds. Thousands are dead.

The body counts are staggering, but the personal stories are the most compelling. Duane Bomar lost both his father and his wife. Marcus Mitchell, though small, had just made his college basketball team on what he said was one of the happiest days of his life. Police officer Christopher Lydon was a Desert Storm veteran. Fellow policeman Jeffery Anderson had just the day before secured a home with his fiancee Becky. The list goes on and on.

Many of the killers had already given strong indication they would do just this sort of awful thing, but families, friends and officials indulged them. Some governments in particular were known for coddling them and enabling their continually menacing behavior.

The killers enjoyed a network of suppliers and facilitators, many of them posing as respectable businessmen while playing major roles in the achievement of this slaughter. Callous masses have danced about under their banners, rubbing salt into the wounds of those who have lost loved ones.

It would be relatively comforting to find that this horror was the work of a few deranged individuals, but the problem runs much deeper. It’s deeply embedded in a culture zealous to the point of self-destruction. From back street to university to wilderness camp, the drumbeat of enthusiasm for the wellspring of this horror grows.

While there are those who would protect this network of terror and ridicule those who would talk of war, men and women of conscience know that it is time to act. We’re still retrieving body parts. The social devastation is incalculable. Enough is enough! A sleeping giant awakes.

The subject? Drunk driving. Bomar, Mitchell, Lydon and Anderson were killed by DUIs. And the references here run to binge drinking at frat parties, the annual death toll of more than 16,000, slack treatment of repeat offenders, and such.

Yes, there’s a big difference between this and Sept. 11 — the drunks don’t intend to kill their victims. But I think the parallels are striking. And perhaps some of our national indignation at the slaughter of innocents can wash over into this other obscenity.

Want to know more? The Mothers Against Drunk Driving and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration websites – www.madd.org and www.nhtsa.gov — are good places to start.
Coppenger is pastor of Evanston (Ill.) Baptist Church. His next column in Baptist Press will appear Thursday, Oct. 4. Other reflections by Coppenger can be viewed at www.comeletusreason.com and www.listten.com.

    About the Author

  • Mark Coppenger