Please drink responsibly!

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Many 18-year-olds all over the country have been pondering the same question for many years: “Why are we old enough to vote and join the military, but not old enough to have a beer?”

This is a legitimate question, although most of these young people are already drinking anyway. But they’d like to be doing it legally, not forced to have an older friend buy alcohol for them or steal from their parents’ liquor cabinet and hide bottles under their beds. They’d like to be able to visit bars and attend clubs without having to acquire a fake I.D.

Most are unaware that there is an initiative hoping to change the law, changing the legal drinking age to 18. More surprisingly, this is an organization comprised of 130 college and university presidents all around the country. It’s called the Amethyst Initiative, and it encourages elected officials to tackle the debate of underage drinking problems.

The Amethyst Initiative believes that lowering the drinking age may discourage many students from participating in dangerous binge drinking, a problem that is prevalent at many large colleges and four year universities. By lowering the drinking age, the Amethyst Initiative believes that young people will be able to make more responsible decisions about alcohol use.

But will this make young drinkers more responsible, or will it only encourage dangerous drinking practices among young adults? Perhaps giving these young people full freedom to drink will only increase their irresponsible drinking habits.

One argument for lowering the drinking age is that young people under 21 are already drinking anyway. This is a good point, but would that be a wise change of the law to increase responsibility, or would it just be an accommodation for illegal activity? Shouldn’t we instead look for new ways to enforce the law rather than get rid of it because it’s not working? These are important questions to consider.

Another argument springs from the success of the 18 and older drinking age in most parts of Europe. The problem with that is that young people in those parts of the world are acclimated to the idea of alcohol from a very young age, and are therefore brought up to make more responsible decisions concerning their own personal use of alcohol by the time they are of age. American society works a little bit differently than that, where we are mostly discouraged from alcohol use through the course of our development into adults.

Apparently this discouragement has spawned rebellion, causing more and more young people to become curious about alcohol and begin drinking at a young age. If the drinking age is to be lowered, perhaps it should be phased in over the course of a few years, rather than becoming effective immediately. This way, our society will have time to get used to the idea and hopefully educate young people about alcohol accordingly.

But for now, the drinking age is 21. That is the law, and it should be respected as long as it remains a law. Please drink responsibly.