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WRITE TEAM: We don't check on each other anymore

Chances are you know at least one functioning alcoholic. They work all week and then take the weekends off to drink themselves into a stupor, starting all over again Monday morning in a vicious cycle that goes on until something breaks – usually their liver, sometimes their family’s patience. But why does the number of functioning alcoholics seem to keep going up every year? I think it has something to do with the ratio of churches to bars in La Salle County.

La Salle County consists of 37 townships. In the interest of conserving space, we’re just going to focus on the bigger cities within La Salle County, including Earlville, La Salle, Marseilles, Mendota, Oglesby, Ottawa, and Peru. For kicks and giggles I’m also including Spring Valley since it’s so close to La Salle-Peru. Out of those towns, there are more than 135 places that you can get a drink on a Friday night – places that you can go and waste an entire evening (and your entire paycheck) in one night.

On Sunday morning, however, (or whenever your religious service starts), there are only around 120 places to worship. And while these numbers are closer than I assumed they would be, how many people congregate in bars instead of congregations? How many people worship at the porcelain throne every Friday night instead of worshiping at an altar on Sunday morning? And why have we come to accept that as a community?

No one looks twice at the guys sitting at the slot machines for hours, or at the girls drinking loudly with their friends every weekend. We don’t check on each other anymore. That’s what churches used to do. They used to be a place where everyone could go on Sundays and see how their neighbor was doing. Sure, that sometimes lead to more gossip than it did anything else, but it was an overall friendlier environment than the neon lit bars today.

Most people are friendly in bars, but that’s not friendship or love. We need to start caring for our neighbors again. You don’t have to find religion to do that, Lord knows religion has created its own fair share of alcoholics. Perhaps try congregating in a place that doesn't serve alcohol.

Ask your neighbor out to coffee, talk about your day with a friend or loved one.

Indulging in alcohol, in moderation, isn't a bad thing; it just shouldn’t be a hobby you indulge in all of the time. And you might be saying, “This article isn’t for me, I don’t drink all that much,” and you might be right, this article might not be for you. But most alcoholics don’t think they have a drinking problem either.

And if we all knew how to drink in moderation, I wouldn’t be writing this article, and you wouldn’t be reading it.

HOPE RUTGENS is a senior college student at Illinois State University who enjoys spending her weekends in Cedar Point with her family. She can be reached at tsloup@shawmedia.com.

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