4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 16, 2004
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EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
I announce a truce
with the European
countries that do not
- A voice attributed to Osama bin
Laden, in an audio tape broadcast
yesterday by the Arabic satellite networks
al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera, as reported
by The Washington Post.
SAM BUTLER THE SOAPBOX
bvf/ttas amu rbr
Finding faults even in paradise
SHABINA S. KHATRI IT's ALL GOOD IN THE HOOD
he time has come for
my goodbye column.
Dun dun dun. Since
this is a special occasion,
I'm not going to spend it
lecturing you on the plight
of Palestinians or the sad
condition of the Rwandan
people. These are definitely
column-worthy topics, but
this time I feel obligated to leave you with
something more explicitly relevant to your lives.
That something is a lesson on sucking it up
and dealing with your current situation, howev-
er wildly comfortable or truly pathetic it may
be. I admit, I'm only about to offer you a fresh
twist on the "it's the journey, not the destina-
tion" epiphany, but what is communication
really, other than just a bunch of recycled age-
old notions wrapped in different-colored pack-
ages? So here goes.
In one of my Spanish classes we recently
read a very Thoreau-ish-type novel about a man
who set out to search for utopia by abandoning
civilization and heading for the hills. The book
prompted a discussion on "The Beach," a
movie in which a bunch of kids, disenchanted
with their people's ways, started their own soci-
ety on an island isolated from the rest of the
planet. But it turned out that the problems these
island inhabitants had left behind in "civilized"
society ended up presenting themselves all over
again in their new world.
Our conclusion was that there is no out-
side. It's dismayingly impossible to escape
problems by running away from them,
because wherever you go you're just going to
end up repeating the same mistakes. As sim-
ple and logical as this concept is to grasp,
common sense can only take us so far, until
reality steps in and proves how counterintu-
itive such a notion really is. It's a common gut
reaction on our part to deal with unpleasant-
ness by recoiling and then doing everything in
our power to get the hell away from the cause
of our pain. What's the old saying, nothing
soothes memory like distance?
To a certain extent, getting away from it all
may be just what the doctor ordered. But be
careful of your expectations, because you
might end up sorely disappointed once you
make your move. So many times, we fall vic-
tim to the idea that a change of location or a
change of careers or a change of partners will
solve life's difficulties, that there really is one
sweeping solution that can cure all of our prob-
lems or make us truly happy.
I contend that those who believe in such a
notion have truly been victimized, because that
idea is completely false and tragically danger-
ous. I agree that starting all over has a certain
appeal to it, because we always make the inten-
tion to approach a fresh slate with a different
perspective and a more careful strategy in hopes
that we won't mess up too bad this time.
But a chronically depressed person, for
example, is not going to suddenly shake free of
that condition by losing 10 pounds. Still, he
believes this to be true and tells himself that
once he reaches this goal and moves away from
his portliness, he will be happy. Then, after he
loses this weight, he might set his sights on
acing a certain class, and promises himself that
once he accomplishes this, he will be content.
And the vicious cycle continues.
Thus, the danger lies in the fact that we keep
postponing our happiness until that future date
when we'll have the perfect car or job or rela-
tionship. We end up disappointed and confused
when we get what we want because the antici-
pated joy is not as intense as we imagined it
would be, leading us to believe that true happi-
ness has eluded us once again.
That is why I advocate being happy with
just taking the journey and not stressing so
much about the end goal or goals. Returning
to our kids on "The Beach," they learned the
hard way that starting all over doesn't neces-
sarily mean starting afresh. A brooding couple
in "Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind"
similarly discovered such a contention - after
having their memories erased of each other, a
chance encounter causes the pair to end up
together all over again.
The same holds true on a macro level. Will
destroying Saddam's regime mean the end of
oppression in Iraq? Did taking out the Taliban
make everything all better for the Afghani
people? I'm not saying that complete over-
hauls are bad. We should all fight for change,
especially in places where justice is forlornly
absent. And I am not unaware that the danger
associated with being happy in the current
instant is complacency.
But even government-hating, tree-hugging
Thoreau pleaded with the masses to check their
expectations at the door, even for a few
moments a day, in order to appreciate their
lives and attain some sort of inner peace. In
"Walden;' he says, "However mean your life is,
meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard
names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poor-
est when you are richest. The fault-finder will
find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor
as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant,
thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse."
What a wise dude. I don't profess to be as
wise and hope that you all can forgive me if I
ever seemed to put across such a pretense.
Almost four years at the Daily and only two
months as a columnist have really taught me
the value of the journey, regardless of the des-
tination. Not that the destination isn't also
important - as idealistic as he was, Thoreau
actually offered mankind a bit of common
sense in his conclusion:
"In proportion as he simplifies his life, the
laws of the universe will appear less complex,
and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty
poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have
built castles in the air, your work need not be
lost; that is where they should be. Now put the
foundations under them."
I conclude similarly: The journey is nothing
if you have nowhere to go. Take care, all.
Khatri can be reached at
This beer pong's for you
HUSSAIN RAHIM NARCOLEPTIC INSOMNIA
Go me. I did it. I
managed to live in
Ann Arbor for four
years and I'm damn near
done. Maybe in theory I
can see why these were
supposed to be the best
four years of one's life but
surely that is some sick
joke. Having this opinion
of Ann Arbor puts me in yet another minority
category at this school because most people here
truly love and enjoy being little Wolverines and
everything associated with it. But not I. The
most common rejoinder I hear is "Oh Hussain,
c'mon, it can't be that bad." But oh my friend
you are quite wrong.
Granted, if I came from a farm, or liked
hanging out with the same five people for four
years, then a place like Ann Arbor may totally
rock. But I didn't and I don't. Much to my own
impediment at this small town, I am from New
York (I know, I know, thank you, thank you) and
I expect more. So then I hear the second most
popular retort which is, "Oh yeah, well if New
York is so great then why didn't you stay there?"
To that I say, that my college advisor was a fool-
ish, evil woman, I tried to be daring and differ-
ent and that the University gave me lots of
money which it slowly took away year by year
thinking I wouldn't notice. I see you, financial
aid office, don't call me for alumni donations ...
Not too long into my stay here, sometime
during freshman year, I moved away from actual
participation in the social ongoings of campus
life and more into a realm of an anthropological
study of them. Observing and laughing at, but
never with, allowed me to keep some sort of
sanity. Along my travails here I've made many
observations that I haven't figured out but would
like to share.
Midwestern people are notably different
from non-Midwesterners. Besides the general
passive-aggressive thing, I've noticed a little
thing that I like to call the Midwest Glare. It
involves eye contact with a stranger, more
specifically with a female at any of the local
campus locations. This includes classrooms,
computer labs, parties or bars. Of course once
eye contact is made said female quickly looks
down at the floor. Once I turn away she starts
looking again. Rinse and repeat. I enjoy this
look particularly because it is a mix of interest,
fear and shock. Any other part of America a
look leads to some interaction, but not here. I
saw you, don't hide baby.
I've also picked up on a little secret.
House parties are never fun. Ever. But what
they are is an accurate reflection of this entire
school's mentality. People only want to hang
out and associate with people they already
know. So there's a party at the corner of 123
Don't Walk Sign St. Let me guess, this will
start off with some pre-drinking which is
actually the same as post-drinking, or just
drinking and then be followed with a "party"
with 27 friends that are from the same high
school or part of the right palm. These people
will gather over the favorite or cheapest beer,
which is by the way amongst the most vile
liquids in existence, and throw ping-pong
balls into cups while sharing memories of
previous ping-pong-throwing escapades.
Don't hog all the fun now.
It's one thing to have a group of friends who
all bond throughout undergrad, and it's another
to keep incestuous pods that can only be pene-
trated by intruders upon three letters of recom-
mendation. "You know Becky? Why didn't you
Also, I have never seen more abominable
bars in my life. Keeping a long line waiting out-
side of Rick's (Or should I say Dick's, get it?
because there are a lot of guys there ... oh well)
doesn't fool anyone. Except for the people in the
line I guess. And once inside, what is more fun
than dodging spilt pitchers and receiving con-
gratulations on my latest great football game?
"Great game man, I love the way you play"
"Thanks man, I do it for Michigan." I swear
to God that happened.
Then there are the girls who get enough
alcoholic courage to break away from the Mid-
west glare and decide to confess years of undy-
ing secret love and whatever else. Of course
post-alcohol or post-coitus they stare at the floor
with renewed intensity. However, once I leave
I'm following their cue and never looking back.
Rahim can be reached at
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Syed suffers from the
standard delusions that
plague the Middle East
TO THE DAILY:
I've read Waj Syed's articles for the
Daily in the past, and while I rarely agreed
with his opinions or conclusions, I under-
stood his logic in the context of his back-
nnn A A a~,ar.. nnaC onnrhprn in i
complaints directed at the United States
from Syed and others would still flow like
honey on a hot day.
It's ironic yet predictable that Syed,
educated in America and acclimated to its
free press like millions of other foreign
nationals before him, would seek to submit
this screed to an American newspaper.
Would he ever have the balls to publish
such a criticism of the Pakistani, or any
other Middle Eastern government, in a
Syed is paralyzed by the same schizo-
phrenia as many other thinkers from the
Middle East. On one hand, they resent the
involvement and presence of the United
States in the Middle East and see it as the
cause of problems there. On the other, they
seem to imply that the United States alone
must solve these problems. Which way do
you want it, Waj?
KENNETH A. LONGO
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