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An often seen bumper-sticker proclaims, "HATE is not a family value." A hate that has people as its object shouldn’t be a family value. However, there is a hate that is a part of any family value that is a healthy one, a hate of things that cause hurt to people, physical or emotional, or prevent them from achieving the fullest measure of success and happiness possible in the one lifetime each is given. There are many such enemies of mankind worthy of a hatred ardent enough to stir us to action toward helping eradicate them from the face of the earth. Of such things that are enemies of mankind—and there are many, including slavery, poverty, ignorance, greed, pornography, abortion, laziness—the one I hate with the most passion is alcohol.

My hatred of booze is not of a sudden whim stirred by a rousing Baptist sermon on the subject—we don’t hear too many of those anymore. It waxed passionate long before I knew the inside of a church. It was engendered primarily by the emotional upheaval my brother and I endured as children—and too a great extent as adults—from coming through a childhood with a mother and step father who were addicted to alcohol. While they were on a five year binge that took them from town to town, we were shuttled from relative to relative before ending up in an orphanage for a year and a half. Even after we started living with them, we continued to rate far below booze in their priorities. Consequently, we practically raised ourselves, receiving little or no discipline and guidance to prepare us to better face the challenges of adulthood. Tiring of abuse by neglect, my brother joined the Navy at age 16.

Seeing the awful effect of alcohol on my mother and step-father—loving, caring parents during the rare and brief periods in which alcohol did not rule their lives— and on the lives of far too many friends and loved ones over the years stoked the fires of my hate. And adding fuel to it is reading daily of the ever rising toll drunk driving is taking on humanity. In the year 2000, according to, MADD, 16,653 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol, not to mention the number injured.

I hate it because of the inspiration it gave me to write the following, an inspiration I wish had never been necessary for me to have:

 

To hate, it seems, is no longer in fashion,
Yet, there are things I hate, and hate with a passion,
Things, not people—not the sinner, but the sin—
For things, not folks, are the foes of God and men,
And of them all, there is one I most despise,
A demon that only Satan could devise,
A stumbling block that has caused countless to fall
All through the ages, a thing called ALCOHOL.
2001 J. G. Braddock Sr.

 

MY REAL NAME IS . . .

Some people call me alcohol while others call me booz;
No matter by what name I’m called, my real name is Bad News;
I choose from every walk of life those I addict as slaves,
And most of whom I choose will wear my chains unto their graves;
I satisfy their worship need, my virtues they extol;
I bow them down before my throne; I own them heart and soul;
I promise them unending song, then make them sing the blues—
Along with those who love them dear—my real name is Bad News.

I author needless tragedies; I shatter hopes and dreams;
I trample into useless heaps some of life’s grandest schemes;
I create paupers from the rich; I destitute the poor;
I fashion fools from prudent men and doubters from the sure;
With ease I tremble steady hands and stumble stable feet;
I drag, like wimps, the strongest men through gutters of the street;
Although I damn my victim’s lives in any way I choose
They love me more than life itself; my real name is Bad News.

I squeeze all promise from careers and pour it down the drain;
I wreak havoc on the liver; I stupefy the brain;
I play all sorts of eerie scenes before the inner eye;
I cause the tongue to utter sounds that any sense defy;
I write an end to friendships dear, I forsake loyalties;
I alienate affections; I splinter families;
I pilfer food from mouths of babes; I rob them of their shoes;
Whatever you may call me, my real name is Bad News.

I force the noblest of mankind to lie and cheat and steal;
I murder countless multitudes when I’m behind the wheel;
My best accomplishment, by far, is futures I have wrecked
Of children of my wretched prey through childhoods of neglect;
I send them into adulthood ill-prepared and insecure,
And precious few among their lot life’s pressures well endure,
And all because their value ranked below the worth of booze;
No matter what my label reads, my real name is Bad News
.
                                                     2000 J. G. Braddock Sr.

 

         YOU HAD IT ALL

You had it all, much more than most:
Abilities of which to boast,
Devoted comrades by the host,
A sense of humor rare,
Promise limitless as the skies,
Potential anyone would prize,
Respect, esteem in others’ eyes,
Demeanor debonair;

Endearing personality,
Figure and features fair to see,
Devoted, caring family,
A home aglow with love,
Integrity steadfast and sure,
Innocence genuine and pure,
A life of happiness secure
With skies of blue above;

You had it all: blessings galore;
‘Twas not enough, you yearned for more,
So, through intoxication’s door,
You walked on feet of clay,
And with each alcoholic high,
You slowly kissed each gift goodbye
Until you drained your blessings dry;
You boozed it all a way.

                        2000 J. G. Braddock Sr.

EMPTY PROMISES

There are no answers in alcohol
To life’s perplexities;
No compass to guide you safely through
Life’s wild, relentless seas;
No balm to belay anxiety
When stress and strain abound;
No ray of hope to come shining through
When clouds of doubt surround;
No magic wand, no Aladdin’s lamp,
To make your dreams come true;
No bridge to bear you over troubles
That lie in wait for you;
No ladder to raise you in stature
In other people’s eyes;

No trophy to make you a winner—
Only a loser’s prize.


There is no backbone in a bottle
To stand you straight and tall;
No sword to slay demons and dragons,
Which lurk within us all;
No golden thread and silver needle
To mend a broken heart;
No glue to patch together again
A life that’s torn apart;
No clown to cheer away your sadness
When grief is hard to bear;
No bosom friend to stroke your ego
When no one seems to care;
No door to escape remembering
The dumb mistakes you’ve made;
No courage to help you play the man
Whenever you’re afraid.

There is no cure in a wine-filled glass
For a soul sick with sin;
No blood that washes away all guilt
To make you pure within;
No lovingkindness that is greater
Than mortal tongues can tell;
No grace sufficient to stand between
You and the gates of hell;
No peace that passes understanding
When wars within assail
No promise of brighter tomorrows
When yesterdays all fail
No nail-scarred hands to lift you again
When life has knocked you down;
No pow’r to work in the vilest heart
To save and heal and crown.

                                                         2001   J. G. Braddock Sr.

 

Fortunately, the following is not about me nor my wife; alcohol has never been welcome in our home. However, it is about someone who was dear to me many years ago. She was beautiful in appearance, manner, and talent: she had a winning personality and could play the piano and sing. She is the one who introduced me to the joy and blessing of attending church. She married a young man who was a social drinker. She soon became a social drinker. He could control his desire for alcohol. She couldn't and quickly became a hopeless alcoholic. In the years that followed, one of her sons ran away to another country to escape the endless drunken brawls. Her other son committed suicide. She burned down their house with a cigarette after falling asleep in a drunken stupor. Learning of her alcoholism and the tragedies it had wrought, I found myself  putting myself in her husband's place, trying to imagine the grief her alcoholism had put him through. Using the words "amber," the color of booze, and "haze," a vague or confused state of mind, together as a metaphor to describe the world in which alcoholics live, I wrote the following:
I often flee reality
Down through the maze of memory
Where I attempt to ease the pain
That sears my heart and numbs my brain
By searching out the golden days
We knew before I lost her to the amber haze.

She came and caused my heart to know,
Beyond a doubt, true love’s first glow
For she was like an angel fair,
So full of life and light as air
And worthy of my earnest praise—
But even then she flirted with the amber haze.

As years rolled by we drank love’s fill,
Then problems came, as problems will,
And while they were so common place
To those that other people face,
She dreaded them with childish craze
And ran away to hide behind the amber haze.

Too blind with love was I to see
The wane of her vivacity,
The sparkle fading from her eyes,
The resignation in her sighs,
The lack of purpose in her gaze,
Her growing fascination with the amber haze.

When I began to realize
That amber haze had claimed my prize,
I pleaded with my dearest one,
"Come out into love’s warming sun,
Come let its ever healing rays
Dissolve away forevermore the amber haze.

"No matter what your fears may say,
You have no cause to run away;
Life’s not as bad as you suppose;
It has its thorns, but gives its rose,
And patient hearts can reap bouquets,
But only thistles grow behind the amber haze."

Alas, my pleadings came too late,
The amber haze had sealed our fate
By taking stealthily from me
Her love, her thoughts, her loyalty,
And now she wastes away her days
Pursuing with hypnotic zeal the amber haze.

With all my love I ever reach
To touch her heart across the breach,
But touch her hand and not her heart
Because we live in worlds apart,
And each is void of golden days,
Between the two there hangs a veil of amber haze.

My countless nights of fitful sleep,
The hopeless vigils that I keep,
Our dreams that go unsatisfied,
My pangs of love pent up inside,
Her lack of amorous displays,
These griefs, and untold more, I owe to amber haze.

I often think of her and weep,
Not for the troth she’s failed to keep,
Nor for this loneliness I know
—those tears I vanquished long ago—
But for the glory of her ways
That might have been were it not for the amber haze.

I see the ads in magazines
Depicting in attractive scenes
The pleasures found in alcohol,
But never once do I recall
An advertisement that portrays
The countless victims trapped within its amber haze.

                                                  1975 J. G. Braddock Sr.

 

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