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I saw your question the other day, and had an opinion, but sensed that my voice might be lost in a cacophony of angry (many of them angry and hurt) voices. I’m no psychologist, so I hope one chimes in here to explain why it’s hard to get a point across when there is even the slightest whiff of blaming the victim on it.

What I wanted to say before and was, for whatever reason, afraid to, is that abuse of alcohol is rampant not just among young women. If your question had been more inclusive, perhaps mentioned car accidents, bike accidents, fractured relationships, horrible parenting decisions —the role alcohol abuse plays in so many lives (whether alcoholism plays a part or not), you would be having a conversation not so much about women as about why some human beings willingly put themselves and the things they care about in peril. That’s the question I think I want the answer to.

I say, I think, because the headaches I’ve been having over this question, and its manifestation in current world politics, tell me that the answer may be as blood-chillingly simple as being a critical mass of ‘caring enough about life to seriously consider its angles is too hard, so I won’t even think about giving a damn until something bad happens to me.’

We are equals, therefore equally capable of ignoring what is best, or at least better, for ourselves in obviously dangerous situations. Men and women either see history and ignore it, refuse to see history and ignore it, or pay attention in important moments and shoulder the responsibility to help bring about better results, both personal and societal, when they can. What good does it do to attempt a conversation only about women and the dangers of getting severely drunk around men, when the world is showing us right now that the essence of your question involves virtually every aspect of life as we know it?

Human beings should be working together to figure out how to prevent war and rape and abuse of children and every other atrocity our species is capable of, without deciding that free will, that freedom itself, is the enemy. How do we solve these problems when the simplest tools to do the work: listening, empathy, open coversation — seem too much for so many people?

I think of these issues and the problems we have in solving them, as mental health issues, and we know how unwilling we are as a society to work on those. Will we ever find answers that work? I dearly hope so.

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