Modesty in drinking

“Did God set grapes a-growing, do you think,
And at the same time make it sin to drink?
Give thanks to Him who foreordained it thus--
Surely He loves to hear the glasses clink!”

“Did God set grapes a-growing, do you think,

And at the same time make it sin to drink?

Give thanks to Him who foreordained it thus–

Surely He loves to hear the glasses clink!”

Isn’t it ironic that some of the most universally acclaimed praise for and passion in wine and other worldly pleasures came from one of the most distinguished poets of Islam, a religion which supposedly bans drinking?

The above quatrain, known widely as rubaiyyat (which means made up of four), written by Omar Khayyam, is one of thousands, in which he encourages the individual to live the life in full and in the process, not to neglect the pleasures, including those that come with good wine.

As we enter the festive season, there will no doubt be lots of wine drinking, in addition to other kinds of liquor.

And no one probably would dare challenge the supreme position of liquor in any celebration: whether one celebrates a family get- together, an anniversary or an accomplishment, liquor, in one form or another, is always good company, allowing the individual to feel a little more relaxed, rise above daily concerns or troubles with a giddy lightness and lots of laughter.

During the Christmas celebrations, we will all be sipping some wine, or whisky or vodka, an alcoholic drink of one sort or another.

The problem with this source of relaxation is that, as we all know, it is difficult to keep the level of relaxation in check: It may quickly and unknowingly get out of hand, and easily turn any celebration into a tragedy.

The worst is the possibility that one harms not only oneself, but may inflict injury or death to others. In our age and culture, this is mostly done through drinking and driving.

RCMP have just announced that, as part of their commitment to ensure public safety, they are going to step up their patrols and checks on highways to prevent collisions and injuries as a result of impaired driving.

“This holiday season, if you drink and drive, your luck will run out, you will get caught,” said an RCMP statement.

Those who drink and drive probably know that impaired driving has little to do with luck: it is just a matter of consideration.

If one retains just a minimum level of sobriety to question one’s ability to drive, particularly on icy and slippery roads, before turning the ignition, many collisions, injuries and loss of life can be averted.

Let’s hope that those who will be drinking over the Christmas season will be as modest in their consumption as Omar Khayyam was in asking for favors in life:

A gourd of red wine and a sheaf of poems

A bare subsistence, half a loaf, not more

Supplied us two alone in the free desert:

What Sultan could we envy on his throne?

— Mustafa Eric