4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 10, 2002
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((They took matters
into their own
hands. Now they are
searching for the
official drink of the
-U.S. Mission to the United States spokesman
Rick Grenell, on United Nations representatives
who brought their own mineral water to Middle
East Peace talks, as quoted by Reuters. Recent
United Nations budget cuts have ended the
availability of glasses of ice water at meetings.
CHIP CULLEN GRIND(NG THE Nm
WH.A1 I: AP*.. 'ON"T kM'AEME COME
The worst good-bye ever
MANISH RAIJI NOTHING CATCHY
he importance of
symbolic action is
not lost on me. I
see no particular prob-
lem with limited symbol-
ism, even if it's
After a particularly
bad time in my life, I
took some old journals
into the woods behind my neighborhood
and burned them. To celebrate a trying but
ultimately satisfying summer, I purchased
a very expensive bottle of whiskey for the
sole purpose of smashing it on a sidewalk.
I once cut my arm so I could bleed on a
farm in a rural village I was working at, as
some sort of reminder to come back.
These were all symbolic - not to
mention ridiculous. Pardon the preten-
tiousness, but there were some good
things written in those journals; I've more
than once wished I could read them again.
My money would have been better spent
on something I would actually use. And
let's face it: Cutting yourself is always
dangerous - physically and mentally.
Symbolically, though, these things
were important to me; they were cleansing
and, in the long run, not regrettable.
But symbolic actions tend to build up.
The danger isn't in one, two, three, four
symbolic actions; the danger is in the sum
of them all. Before you know it, symbol-
ism becomes tradition, tradition becomes
habit, habit becomes a problem. The pro-
gression is frighteningly easy; the reversal
can seem impossible.
Worse yet, the line between one sym-
bolic action and the next is fairly inconse-
quential. An individual action, to com-
memorate something good or escape
something bad, seems excusable - "man,
I totally deserve/need/desire this right
now." Only once, it's always only once.
Maybe twice; it worked so well the first
time. Until suddenly you have no idea
when the first time was and can't compre-
hend when the last time will be.
"The only foundation you have in life
is yourself. Don't let it crumble." Flash of
brilliance from fading grace: An old
friend told me this - soon thereafter, he
broke his own advice.
The major problem, as I see it, is an
unwillingness to over-dramatize yourself
or, worse yet, to join that club.
Everyone knows someone who knows
someone whose dad showed up at their
soccer game with a stutter in his step and a
disconnect in his speech. Everyone knows
someone who knows someone whose
mother embarrassed him by obnoxiously
hitting on all his friends at graduation.
Cue the nervous laughter.
Symbolic action is dangerous because
it leads to bigger things. A symbolic
action is done to show control, to prove
that you've "got balls," that you can hang.
That maybe, just maybe, if I can hurt
myself hard enough, no one else will have
the power to. But when the progression
from symbolism to tradition to habit to
problem starts, the very control that
meant so much is lost. Symbolism is
"I never saw him sober," or "Man, that
guy was always on something" becomes
your whispered eulogy. It's funny at first,
but there is nothing Hemingway about
such a life. It's not a romantic lifestyle -
it's barely a life at all.
Loss of control is the beginning, mid-
dle and end of the crumbling of your foun-
dation. As soon as that control is lost, the
game's over. Do not pass Go, do not col-
lect 200 dollars (excuse the cliche). It's
If symbolic actions define your life,
stop. It's easier to stop before the progres-
sion has started.
If you're worried about over-dramatiz-
ing your life, if you're scared to admit that
you have in fact joined that club, stop kid-
Stop being narcissistic about it as
well; stop pretending that you're only
damaging yourself. Symbolic actions
taken to their debilitating conclusions tear
unhealing scars on everyone around you;
the real over-dramatization in life lies in
assuming that battles are fought only
There's no nervous laughter in the end.
The justice that's served is not poetic, it's
neither noble nor pathetic. It's noteven
justice. It's just an empty sense of loss -
of a railroaded potential, of a light gone
Jack - We had a deal. Past tense.
Daily - Take your place behind me. I'm
ready for my spot in the library - I think
I've earned it.
This is Manish Rayji's last column for the Daily.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
'U' administration correct
to take action against
'disgusting' Naked Mite
TO THE DAILY:
The Daily's editorial concerning the
Naked Mile (No thank 'U', 4/9/02) has
some valid points. I agree that the Univer-
sity should not try to undermine the event
through devious advertising and implicit
threats. That destroys students' trust.
At the same time, there is a deep
assumption in this editorial; that is, the
Naked Mile should be preserved,
endorsed, condoned or whatever word you
might want to use.
I could not disagree more. Simply
because it is a tradition does not make it
right. The University is a body of the state
of Michigan and should never allow such
blatant violations of state law to occur on its
campus. As mentioned in the editorial, run-
ning naked is illegal. The University should
not try to promote such activities, period.
If the University will allow the event
to happen, then I agree that it should pro-
tect the runners. Let's keep in mind,
though, that there are huge numbers of
people who turn up to watch this event
and there are very few Department of
Public Safety officers. It is impossible to
effectively patrol all areas of the Mile.
The Naked Mile, while a time-honored
tradition, is disgusting and I am glad to
see our University take a stand. I just wish
it would do so openly instead of trying to
manipulate students in the process.
role of Christianity in
Middle East conflict
TO THE DAILY:
Once again the truth has been ignored!
The blatant media misrepresentation of
Christianity's role in the current conflict
in the Middle East has gone too far.
Johanna Hanink wrote in Monday's
column (Caring about Israel doesn't
demand identity politics, 4/8/02) that Pales-
happen to be in what was Palestinian con-
trolled territory. Does Hanink think that
the Jews worshiped in the church where
Jesus was born? So you see, the conflict
has always been "personal" for the Chris-
tians and there is no need for you, Ms.
Hanink, or the media to start welcoming
Christians to the conflict in Israel as they
have always been there.
Hanink's column paints
inaccurate picture of
To THE DAILY:
Johanna Hanink's column, Caring
about Israel doesn't demand identity politics,
gives readers the impression that the
Church of Nativity is under Palestinian
occupation, and she seems to have fallen
for the false press which says that the
priests and nuns are being held hostage
by Palestinians. Yet all the reports and
eye witness accounts say otherwise.
These Palestinians were given refuge
by the Latin Patriarch Michel Sabah with
the condition that they put down their
weapons, which they did, for the Church
wanted to protect the Palestinians from
the imminent slaughter they would face
had they been left to battle Israeli tanks
and Apache helicopters.
The Church of Nativity has been held
hostage by one group alone, and that is the
Israeli Army. The IDF has completely sur-
rounded the Church, blown out the back
wall and reports say that the Israel Defense
Forces set the Church ablaze, and executed
a man who was trying to put out the fire.
Father David Jaeger, spokesman for custo-
dians of Catholic sites in the Holy Land
strongly condemned the attack as "an act
of indescribable barbarity.,
Perhaps Hanink should reassess which
side she supports.
Daily letters, articles do not
I am not so arrogant as to assume that
I have anything resembling a "solution"
to the bloodshed, but I can assure all of
you that this is not the way to engage in
something so modest as a debate on the
issue, controversial though it may be.
The Israeli occupation of Palestinian
territories is wrong, as are many if not
most of said government's policies per-
taining to the aforementioned occupation.
The immorality of the action, however, is
comparable to many instances of United
States intervention and occupation, both
over its long and "democratic" history
and even in recent years, most notably
our numerous illegal paramilitary inter-
ventions in Latin America.
It is incumbent upon the Israeli gov-
ernment, as the ultimate source of the con-
flict, to backtrack in its actions and make
the concessions it has promised to the
Palestinian Authority, including allowing
for the peaceful creation of a Palestinian
state, but first and foremost including the
withdrawal of its military presence from
Palestinian civilian centers.
That said, Americans who jump to
criticize Israeli military action must pause
and reflect upon the hypocrisy of that
stance. It is not perfectly analogous to our
own government's military operations in
Afghanistan and other areas, but it is no
stretch of the imagination to sympathize
with the motivations and goals of the
grievances are genuine, they have vilified
themselves by repeatedly resorting to bru-
tally terrorizing Israel's civilian popula-
tion. Yasser Arafat has demonstrated time
and again what is either a reluctance or
inability to control the radical factions
within his country and Israel is, in many
ways, backed into a corner.
The truth is that both sides must reach
a viable compromise and that neither will
get everything it wants. However, their
stubbornness cannot be condemned out-
right; as the often virulent discourse here
on campus, halfway round the world, has
shown, the issues are complex and there
is not necessarily a simple right answer.
To a certain extent, each side is at
fault and each side has been wronged.
The solution to this situation will require
understanding and amenability to com-
promise far exceeding what University