How to Save Your Children From a
MOST people believe that intemperance begins in the saloon, but, as a matter of fact the saloons are often no more the cause of intemperance than the hospitals are the cause of disease. The average drunkard possesses an intolerable thirst within him that almost forcibly drags him into a saloon whenever he passes its doors. "The curse, causeless, shall not come," and there is a cause for this thirst just as much as there is a cause for weariness or sleeplessness; and the earnest advocate of temperance has not done his duty until he has shown the poor, shipwrecked and stranded victim of intemperance how not to sow for this thirst.
The question of diet is important, because the food is fuel to the body. "Eat for strength and not for drunkenness." The wise man says, "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out." Mothers, you who feed your children upon stimulating and irritating flesh foods, highly spiced dishes and the wrong combinations, do you spend nights worrying over the bad traits of character which you see developing? They are only the harvest for which you have been sowing. Thousands of drunkards are staggering about the streets today for no other reason than that their tables were spread with such food that they were compelled to "eat for drunkenness" if they ate at all. The prophet Isaiah, looking down through the ages saw tables loaded with substances which he could not recognize as food. Perhaps he saw the scavengers of earth, sea and sky, the blistering condiments, the foul smelling vinegar, the scorching pepper; beverages which as certainly contain drugs as though bought at a drug store; food substances combined with such fiendish ingenuity that they must undermine and disorder both digestion and physical Strength; and in the following graphic words he describes what he saw: "For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean." (Isa. 28:8.)
It has been well said that "The frying pan drums up trade for the man who sells bad whisky." In our experience in dealing with reformed men in Chicago we have invariably found it to be the rule that so long as these men can be persuaded to subsist upon the natural products of the earth, they do not have an unconquerable desire for liquor. An incident that testifies to the value of a non-flesh diet in the work of promoting temperance is related by the manager of our Workingmen's Home in Chicago. A man who had been staying at the Home for three or four weeks one day said to one of the workers, "You won't see me for a while, I am going on a 'spree;' but the first thing I am going to do is to go out and get a
big piece of juicy beefsteak and eat that. It will give me a whisky appetite. While I am eating this pure food diet I can't drink whisky." Flesh foods, on account of the large amount of waste products and irritating substances which they contain, fan into life the dormant fires of intemperance in those who were born with a tendency to the liquor habit. Our kidneys were created for the purpose of carrying off the poisons of the human body; why should we impose upon them the additional burden of eliminating the waste products from the animal's flesh?
Fiery spices create a thirst which the town pump cannot satisfy; thus the kitchen becomes a vestibule to the saloon. If the dining tables of modern society could only be cleared of a host of things that create an appetite for liquor there would be more vacant places at the bar table.
Only the Day of God can reveal the terrible consequences of the immoderate and baneful use of pain-deadening, sleep-producing and body-wrecking drugs in infancy. Where Herod slew his hundreds a certain well-advertised soothing syrup has slain its thousands, and has also made mental, moral and physical wrecks of additional thousands. Improper food, which the child should never have been allowed to swallow, sours, ferments and decomposes in its tiny stomach. As a consequence, the nerves shriek out their pain, and then a dose of some compound, composed chiefly of morphine, and cheap whisky is poured down the child's throat. Its pitiful cry is subdued, the pale cheek becomes a little paler, the eyelids begin to close, and the mother breathes a sigh of satisfaction, and feels thankful that we are living in an age in which medical science has accomplished so much to make a mother's work easier. She then hastily dons her wraps and hurries off to the missionary society meeting to plan what can be done to improve the condition of children in heathen countries. She reaches home in time to administer another dose so that the child shall remain quiet all night; and yet, somehow and in some way, the child may succeed in living through this ordeal. Thousands of these children, when they become too old to take soothing syrup, find that they can derive some of the same felicity from a cigarette; and eventually they learn to seek it in the saloon.
Careful observation will reveal the fact that a large number of inebriates and drug fiends manifest some inherited weakness which renders them peculiarly susceptible to the influence of liquor and other habit-forming drugs. The average bill of fare has paved the way to a drunkard's career for thousands who never inherited any special appetite for strong drink; but when the child of a drunkard is fed on doughy bread, pasty mush, spices and fiery condiments, second-hand food in the form of flesh, instead of taking food properly prepared first-hand from the lap of nature, then there is but little hope that he will escape his inheritance. However, if such a child is allowed to live in such a manner that he may reasonably expect to have healthy blood and an untainted brain, then in spite of the law of heredity which, like that of gravitation, is continually tending to pull him down, he can, like the growing plant, raise his head and defy his hereditary tendencies so that no one shall have occasion to say of him, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." (Ez. 18:2.)
Another reason that so many young people have drifted to ruin is because their homes have offered so little to attract them toward that which is good. Palatial saloons and the gilded haunts of vice, which are thronged by many youth, serve to indicate the penalty of failing to make home attractive. Home is becoming a place for visitors, for society, for banquets and socials, while too often the children are scarcely thought of; little provision is made for binding them to the safeguards of home; and all the while the rumseller is making the saloon more and more attractive; and by means of enchanting music and various other allurements, he is seeking to entice the youth for whom home has lost its attractions. Frequently the boy and his companions find it more congenial to play in the barn, in the wood shed or almost any place but at home. Go upstairs to the average boy's room and see where he lives. Then you will not wonder so much that he goes out evenings to enjoy himself. Go from this home with its broken lamp chimney, dingy walls, ragged carpet and broken furniture, to yonder palace saloon, to the mirrored haunt of vice and iniquity, decorated with paintings and tapestries and all that is calculated to charm the youthful eye, with notes of music ever sounding forth, and here you will find the youth who are, as it were, driven away from home because there was nothing there to attract or charm them.
It is easy to see the drunkenness, but not always so easy to see what is back of it. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." It is no use pulling up weeds if you are industriously sowing for a crop of weeds. The same energy that is expended in restoring one invalid to health, if utilized in a thorough-going health educational work, would save a hundred people from becoming sick. Similarly the work required to save a drunkard, if used in instruction in pointing out clearly and definitely the successive steps in the evolution of a drunkard, would result in preserving thousands from a drunkard's career.
Shall we therefore cease to intelligently treat disease or labor to save the drunkard? By no means. "This ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Mothers can do more for the cause of temperance, more to save their sons from the evils of the drink traffic, by building up the home and making it attractive, than by smashing saloons or pouring liquor into the streets. It is time we weregetting intensely in earnest over these questions, and we should be doing all we can to enlighten the people in regard to the causes of intemperance. When the science of rearing children receives half the attention that it deserves, then, and not till then, may we expect to see fewer drunkards upon our streets.