Aliud vinum, aliud ebrietas.

Wine is one thing. Drunkenness is something else.

(Pron = ah-lee-ood wee-noom, ah-lee-ood ay-bree-ay-tahs)

Comment: This proverb has many expressions: balance in all things; avoid
extremes; the middle way; vital balance; don’t throw the baby out with the

My first professional career was as a Methodist minister. In 8 short years, I
came to see my own share of those whose lives were devastated by alcohol. In
that short time, I noticed a pattern that most church folks might find
surprising. The individuals that I encountered with the worst problems with
alcohol were those who grew up in homes that made alcohol the most taboo.
Given one extreme, they found the other. In other words, teaching children
“don’t ever drink alcohol—it’s wrong!” almost seems to insure that they will,
and to excess.

If I go back far enough in my own family history, I find alcoholism. What I
find in the next generation is strong prohibition against any use of alcohol as
if it were the root of all evil. And what I find in the next generation is a
propensity toward . . . alcoholism. We intergenerationally trade one extreme
for another, and never seemed to find moderation.

It makes me wonder what else we careen through life smashing up with our
imbalances. The use of alcohol is just one example. Taken in moderation,
medical studies indicate that certain wines and beers are actually
health-positive. It makes me wonder what else might be a salve to our lives if
taken in moderation.

Work and play? Do those themes represent balance or extremes? In our culture,
those two are so out of balance that many only have one alternative
left—drinking! I am not one to preach here. I don’t play enough. A friend
just sent me a little reflection that included: “we work so hard to earn lots
of money that we get sick, and then we spend all of our money to get well.”
Work is one thing. Working ourselves to stress/death is something else.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day is now available on the web.