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“Gulp!” New Era, July 2004, 26


When I was 14, I went camping with some friends. As we sat in a circle talking, one of the guys reached into his pack and pulled out a can of beer. Everyone went silent as he popped the lid and held it high above his head. “If any of you are men,” he bellowed, “you’ll have a drink with me.” Tilting the can to his lips, he took a large swallow.

All the eyes were on the can as the boy next to him received it in his waiting hand. He didn’t hesitate. He took a swig with great bravado in front of us all. The can moved to the next boy in the circle.

As it moved in my direction, my mind searched for a quick solution, a cool response that would rescue me. I knew what was right and wrong. I knew what the Word of Wisdom said. I knew how seven-year-old Joseph Smith refused any liquor to dull the pain of the operation on his leg.

These things raced through my mind as the can found its way to the third boy. He had not come to be tempted. He thought he was just going camping. As he held the can, I could sense the frantic debate going on in his mind. All eyes were upon him, staring, seeming to demand that he drink as the others had. I could almost hear his cries pleading for his mother to come save him, but she was nowhere to be found. Try as he did, he could not handle the pressure. He took a drink and hurriedly passed the can to my friend—my example—Rick.

My heart was pounding as I realized that I was the next one in the circle to receive the can. I didn’t know how I was going to get out of this one. I imagined that if I didn’t take a drink, they would bury me up to my neck in the hills somewhere and let the ants crawl through my nose and ears. “Rick,” I thought to myself, “if you take one sip of that, I’m going to slug you.”

Rick held the can. He looked at me, and I looked at him. We then both looked at the can he was holding and up at the dozen other faces waiting anxiously.

For a moment, Rick just stared at the can. Then he casually put it down, reached into his pack, and fished around until he found what he was looking for. He raised a purple can into the air for all to see.

“If any of you are men,” Rick yelled, “you’ll have a drink of grape soda with me!” Rick popped the lid, brought the can to his lips, and tilted his head back dramatically as he drank from it. Then he passed it back in the direction from which the beer had come.

The kid next to Rick found himself holding the soda now. Everyone was staring at him. He gladly drank some and passed it on. As they were enjoying the grape soda, Rick grabbed the beer can and threw it as far as he could. The can, frothing at one end as it twirled in the air, dropped into the gully below.

It takes just one person to stand up for what’s right, to stop the darkness from creeping in. Just as one bulb can light a dark room, so can one person chase away the adversary. I’ll always remember Rick for the light he turned on for us all.

Extra! Extra!

To learn more about resisting peer pressure, read the following articles in the Gospel Library at “Making the Right Choices” by Elder Richard G. Scott (Ensign, Nov. 1994) and “The Word of Wisdom” by President Boyd K. Packer (Ensign, May 1996).

And read Daniel 1 to see how Daniel and his friends were blessed for obeying the Lord’s law of health.

Illustrated by Greg Newbold