By Alan Sorensen
Oh, I ate too much. I feel like the guy in the commercial for the meesy, micy specy beet malls. I can't believe I ate the who-o-o-ole thing.
It was great again this year, the 18th annual Thanksgiving Day dinner for everyone. Not everyone took advantage, but nearly 700 of us did.
I want to thank Richard for getting out of bed so early Thursday to stop the flood. And just when it appeared no one was going to show up to help sweep and mop, Pastor Steve and his family and Matt Martinez jumped right in. The last meal was served at about 3 p.m. and the lights were out by 4:10.
Everyone still had time to catch the second half of what had been a scoreless game to that point.
All in all, a pretty great day.
MADD is mad, not because Montana hasn't done enough to address drunk driving in the state. (The national organization gave Montana its lowest grade, a D+, for its anti-drunk driving efforts.) I think MADD's mad at Montana for not joining MADD.
I was on the Hill County DUI Task Force 19 years ago as the fledgling MADD got going in Montana. What the MADD of Montana did then that continues to rankle the National MADD now, I think, was go independent.
While the national MADD was Mothers Against Drunk Drivers when I first got involved, MADD in the Big Sky State used the acronym to stand for Montanans Against Drunk Driving. There was a subtle but huge distinction between those titles. While the national group, in all of its rhetoric and literature at the time, condemned the drunk driver, the Montana MADD condemned the act of driving drunk with an eye toward helping the driver.
I noticed in the wire story the other day that the national Mothers are against drunk driving now. Maybe they were then, too, and the literature we were sent was from some extreme wing of the group.
The national MADD was, when I was familiar with it, an unbending and very demanding group. Its leader openly attacked the Montana group for coddling drunk drivers. That was a blatant falsehood then and nothing has changed.
MADD in Montana has done immeasurable good in getting laws and attitudes changed. It also has done a great job of keeping the avenues of communication open between itself and the public, including the servers of alcohol.
What Montana has done in the intervening years is use video taping to reduce the number of drunk drivers who beat their raps. It has created a mandatory night in jail and huge fine along with court school and a counseling option for a first offender. It has created a felony charge for the multiple offender. It has gotten newspapers throughout the state to publish the names of DUI motorists. It has encouraged designated drivers and taught friends and bartenders how to intervene and prevent drunks from driving. It has even helped to teach friends and bartenders how to keep friends from drinking too much.
We're a small, tightly knit family in Montana. Our state is less like a state and more like a small city with its neighborhoods strewn across thousands of square miles crisscrossed by two-lane roadways. Miles City, Glendive, Sidney, Wolf Point, Glasgow, Plentywood and Broadus, for example, are our real east end.
We're not vindictive people, always looking for an eye for an eye.
We're neighborly, even when it hurts.
What's this about a cookie toss? When I was in my cups, I was a master at tossing my cookies. You could almost say that I was a professional. Maybe I should take my skills to Holiday Village Saturday and try to win $10,000 or a boat.
World AIDS Day is next Wednesday. Whether you think it's a terrible illness that needs to be understood or the wrath of God wrought on the world for its sins, it still needs our attention. And those who suffer need love just as you and I do. It doesn't matter if they're good upright Christians who contracted HIV through transfusions or other sinless sources or heathens who inject their illegal drugs through shared needles or participate in sinful sex.
I'm told that HIV, the means by which AIDS is evinced, is not a highly communicable disease. It doesn't come in a sneeze or glass of water.
The only surefire means of surviving AIDS that we know of today is to remain HIV free. It's really very simple: Refrain from activities that can lead to HIV.
It's largely a choice between education and HIV. Choose education. We don't want to lose you.