The Sunday show last week featured the Prescription for Change campaign of Dr Albert Makary. Dr Makary has set out on a mission to drive social change surrounding the culture of binge drinking within our country. He hits his audience with hard facts, some disturbing trends, and presents everything in a way worth listening to. If you didn’t get the chance to see this, TVNZ on demand has it available and it’s worth a few minutes of your time. He raises some serious concerns, and it’s hard to find fault with many of the things he has to say. There were politicians attempting to show their support, yet there seems to be no end of horrid strategies coming out of Parliament and its ‘advisors’ to deal with this ballooning problem.
In the weekend I was lucky enough to be in the centre of Christchurch, when my friend was attacked by some intoxicated cowards. I was able to offer a pitiful half hearted defence for him, as he appeared momentarily concussed, and ended up taking some unprovoked pain myself. After this I took some time to digest my surroundings, to beef up my ‘situational awareness’. What I saw can only be described as disturbing, and although I think most people would say ‘well that’s obvious’, consciously taking in the events and surroundings of Christchurch on a Saturday night is quite a scary thing. It was almost impossible to tell I was still in the Christchurch of five hours earlier, when I witnessed a mother and two young children walk through the square toward their destination carefree.
The dark doesn’t change the city, but those coming on to the street after the sun sets seem to. Why is it that our society appears to have two faces? A face in daylight hours offers peace, courtesy, and tolerance; yet at night this face turns sour, offering intimidation, confrontation, and almost animalistic tendencies. There will obviously always be a darker side in any society, but it seems as if the intoxication of otherwise reasonable people fuels the darker side into something extreme.
How can we invoke a change in this two faced society? One could almost mistake Christchurch on a Sunday morning for Gotham City, where people fear the streets so much that a ‘hero’ is demanded, knowing those supposedly in power are powerless when the sun sets. Maybe I’m going overboard, but I think the analogy begins to offer some idea of where things could be headed. If anything, this sort of discussion and hard hitting firsthand accounts should be propped up, allowing those demanding change some form of defined justification and goal orientation.
I feel as if this problem goes through all levels of our society. That isolating the youth as the problem will never solve this lurking evil, nor will our politicians scoring a few cheap points by taking a supposed moral stance on the legal purchasing age and pretending it will do something. When will our politicians stand up and offer some real solutions? Or at least start asking more people like Dr Makary to stand up for them.