Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A different view of one aspect of American exceptionalism............

...............from one who lived through prohibition!

It seems to me that one of the defining characteristics of the American people and scene is our adaptability and readiness to promote and except change. In some areas, of course, change comes extremely slowly. Civil rights and gender issues are examples of issues that began with our country's founding and are still in the process of change. There are other areas where change comes with lightning speed as we rush to accept the latest gadget or fad.

This topic came to mind recently as I saw an advertisement on the Metro taken out by one of the most prestigious, even the hallowed, agencies of our government, THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES. It made me think of an area of social change that has made a complete reversal was in my lifetime. The ad was for a series of 10 lectures on the history of the cocktail given by Derek Brown, Chief Spirit Adviser for the current display at archives entitled, Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History . The titles of the sessions begin with Our Founding Drinkers and continue through The Golden Age of the Cocktail to The Lost Generation and ending with The Fine Art of Mixing Cocktail.

What a dramatic change within my lifetime. How remarkable that it was the surprising power of women (primarily) that, through such organizations as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union facilitated the enactment of a constitutional amendment banning (most) alcoholic beverages in January, 1920. I recall how effectively fear was installed in me as I saw demonstrations of what might happen within my body when one of the ladies dropped an egg in alcohol. Change of course again occurred was the 21st amendment adopted 13 years later.

The inevitability of change is apparent. Managing it is a responsibility we share for good or ill.  How are we doing as a society in balancing and maintaining our social and cultural heritage with new opportunities and threats?

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