Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jun 1999
Date: 06/24/1999
Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Author: Mary Nella Bruce
Note: Original:

In response to Jill Jepson's piece on fighting drugs ("The Evil of our
Day", Opinions, June 9), Jepson trivializes the well-meaning but
"misled" women of Prohibition as harbingers of our government's
current failed efforts to criminalize drug addicts.

I think the comparison is a good one, but for different reasons than

Prohibition grew out of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (late
1800s), the largest and most influential international women's
movement the world has ever known.

Francis Willard in 1898 was a hundred years before her time when she
stated that "alcoholism is a disease to be treated and that the flask
in the pocket should be replaced with the Bible."

That progressive attitude led to compassionate activism that started
with prayer meetings and transformed the world.

Temperance women opened up inner-city missions, homes for the
homeless, and industrial trade centers for urban youths and
impoverished women and children.

They fought to improve city services, and reform the police force,
prisons and public health concerns. They established orphanages,
nursery schools, refuge houses, medical clinics for addicts,
transitional housing for alcoholics, dormitories for working women,
and replaced industrial beer breaks with our indispensable coffee breaks.

If only the government would spend its millions on drug rehab, not
prisons. If only the church could once again be the transforming agent
for those in despair.

If only we knew that real change begins with a renewed spiritual

If only we really cared.

Mary Nella Bruce, chaplain, Emanuel Medical Center Patterson, CA