Twenty-year-old can smoke, drink, die for country

Twenty-year-old can smoke, drink, die for country

by Drew RiebhoffLifestyles Editor

In America, at the age of 18 you are considered an adult.

At the age of 18 you’re given the opportunity to elect your leaders, whether it’s the president of the school board or the president of the country.

If you commit a crime, you’re tried as an adult. You can decide to buy cigarettes and fill you lungs with tar and the air with toxins, and if you’re a male, you’re required to sign up for the Selective Service, just in case the draft gets re-instated.

Our government officials feel that at the age of 18, men and women are mature enough to be shipped off to war. They think that 18 is an appropriate age for people to make the decision to take someone else’s life in combat or give their own, and at the age of 18 we can also buy, or even make, our own pornographic materials if we so choose.

We can make all these decisions: elect leaders, buy cigarettes and go to war, at the age of 18. But I’m not considered old enough to decide what kind of beer I want to drink?

In July, a coalition of college presidents and chancellors known as The Amethyst Initiative issued a statement calling for our elected officials to take a good hard look at all the facts and figures and to weigh all the consequences with our current alcohol policies and engage in a dispassionate debate on this hot-button issue to see if we can’t come up with better solutions.

I applaud them.

Everyone knows that binge drinking has indeed become an epidemic in our country, but just saying “Don’t drink,” is not the way to handle it.

We need to educate our youth and say, “If you’re going to drink, know your limit.” We need to teach them to look for signs of alcohol poisoning and how to handle it, rather than keep them in the dark, which will lead to more untimely deaths.

Parents also need to be accessible. Underage drunk driving occurs when kids go to parties, get drunk,and then are too scared to call mom and dad, so they drive. Parents need to let their kids know that, while they shouldn’t drink, if they do, they’re there to help.

If you ask the majority of 21-year-olds, after the first few months of being of legal age, going out and getting drunk kind of loses its appeal. Wouldn’t this probably happen if the drinking age was lowered to 18? Sure, it’d last a few months, but then even 18-year-olds would tire of the same weekend scene all the time, and the shock of everyone drinking at college wouldn’t be quite so tempting.

I can’t tell you how many friends I had freshman year who hadn’t touched alcohol in high school. Then they came to college, started drinking and now some of them are the ones that alcohol abuse posters are made for.

Introducing alcohol to a kid at the age of 18 would also allow for more parental guidance towards responsible drinking. When you’re 21, you’re in college on your own, and you’re drinking with friends who aren’t going to tell you when to slow down.

But if youth were able to start drinking while they were still at home, they’d have that parent- over-the-shoulder type thing and might learn how to drink more responsibly.

I agree with the Amethyst Initiative and hope that our officials take a serious look at the current conditions, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the drinking age lowered to 18.

But, if all this comes to pass and we keep the drinking age at 21, we at least need to look at ways to handle the issue of binge drinking. Because just saying “no” obviously isn’t working.

However, if my country is going to let me vote, buy porn and expect me to be willing to die for it, they could at least trust I would also make the correct decision about what kind of beer I want to drink.