THE HOLLOW PEOPLE

GARY W. SUMMERS

   

T. S. Eliot wrote a poetic masterpiece, which begins with the words: "We are the hollow men, we are the stuffed men...." Certainly, in today's world, many are suffering from emptiness. All of their time is bound up in the material world; they either ignore or have drowned out the spiritual nature with which God created them. Their philosophy of life is to eat, drink, and be merry ("party hardy," in today's vernacular).

Many have as their goal getting drunk or stoned; we have never understood this mentality. Are we so subject to peer pressure and so mindless that we can no longer ask, "Why?" Why would we want to treat our bodies in such an awful way and put ourselves at risk? What is worth the problems that are generated by inebriation? Some drink to forget their problems, but they must still confront them when they sober up. Others celebrate good fortune with booze. So, whether they are happy or sad, people drink.

Melodi, the woman with two funerals (about whom we wrote on June 23rd), had a blood alcohol level of .33 percent when she drove the wrong way on Airport Freeway, which resulted in her loss of life, as well as the deaths of three innocent persons (The Dallas Morning News, June 21st, 29A). According to the paper, some one her size and weight would have had to consume 8-15 cans of beer, 7-9 glasses of wine, or 12 shots of 96-proof liquor in about an hour's time (29A, 36A). Obviously, Melodi consumed too much alcohol. But for those who may not know what "too much" means, perhaps some descriptions from Modern Health, a high school textbook will help. [The authors are James H. Otto, Cloyd J. Julian, J. Edward Tether, and Janet Zhun Nassif (New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Publishers: 1985).]

At .1 percent, alcohol "first starts to affect the centers of the brain that control intelligence, perception, and motor ability" (279). At .2 percent all of these are even more affected, and it "becomes difficult to think clearly." At .3 percent alcohol "throws the body into a state of complete confusion. The sense organs are seriously affected. Speech becomes slurred and a person may experience double vision. Hearing can also be impaired. Distances are difficult or impossible to judge." An emergency room nurse (Melodi's occupation) would be all too familiar with these facts.

She was one-third of her way to .4 percent, at which time "the brain can barely function" (280). The woman was close to paralysis. Her affinity with alcohol took the life of a 56-year-old baggage handler, a 23-year-old man, and his 7-year-old stepson, "who was visiting from South Dakota" (36A). Melodi was ON HER WAY to a Memorial day party when the accident occurred.

*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: THE HOLLOW MEN (07/14/02)."


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