Why They Drink…and Dance

Last Sunday the Vincentian Government called for a shutdown of all businesses (including Churches) because the island was under a tropical storm watch. This resulted in the cancelation of every Church service, and the police shutting down businesses that kept themselves open.

During a quick drive to a Church members house and back that afternoon I noticed that there were almost no people on the road. Everyone had wisely listened to the Governments advice to stay home.

except for the people who went to Sundays funeral.

amazingly at around 5:00, I heard the familiar sound of what we call the “boom boom truck.” This truck carries gigantic speakers and blasts music loud enough to be heard five streets over after every funeral while people get drunk, and dance in the street.

Sure enough the scheduled funeral celebration went on as planned in the pouring rain while every business and Church (including Saint Vincents major airport) were shut down!

Since Sunday I’ve been asking myself why it was so important for those people to celebrate that afternoon. An article I read this morning actually does a very good job of answering that question.

On Monday Christine Chappel wrote an article entitled “Beware of Taking Your Sorrows to Alcohol before God”. In it she described her own struggle with depression, and attempts to medicate that depression with alcohol.

One of the most important steps in breaking her alcoholism was Chappel’s recognizing what she calls alcohols “false narrative of hope” which is descried this way.

”Alcohol offers an equally false narrative of hope to the depressed. We hope it will lighten our load, but it’s powerless to remove burdens. It can’t simplify our problems; on the contrary, it complicates our sorrows physically, spiritually, and relationally.

To put things simply alcohol may take away the sorrow for a short period of time. However it will slowly take more and more of it to feel good, and eventually consume your life.

I live in a village where many people (mostly men) drink strong rum every single day. Some will actually drink it all day long. I don’t honestly believe they are drinking it because the like it, they are drinking it to lighten the load of their burdens.

In the same way people will dance and party in the street (even during a tropical storm!) in order to forget their sorrow.

The truly sad thing is as Christine Chappel points out, things like alcohol and partying don’t remove those burdens. In fact it just makes them worse. The day after the party you are asking when the next party is, and the moment that rum runs out, you’re only interested in getting more.

Thankfully through the Gospel that constant cycle for the next party or bottle can be broken. But this happens as we lovingly point out what the world calls hope isn’t hope at all.

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