Monkeys In Chalk

After attending Wednesday's Distinguished Speaker Series event and listening to Jane Goodall talk about her life and her career, I walked back to the Student Union and passed a series of anti-war chalk drawings on the ground.

The chalkings reminded me of something Dr. Goodall discussed.

During her speech, she mentioned a common complaint about environmentalism - that of rabid environmentalists so concerned with saving the environment or saving endangered species that they overlook the human suffering going on right before their eyes.

It's a difficult situation. Does the loss of one justify the salvation of the other? For Goodall, the answer seemed clear - work to help the humans suffering in the vicinity, who can then help you work to save the environment.

It's the same situation today, in the world of politics. We're at war now, something many of us had hoped not to see for a long, long time. Bush has taken a decisive step, with the nearly complete support of the American nation.

There are, of course, dissenters. The chalk phrases make that clear. While I would be the first to support the right to free speech, it seems almost incomprehensible that someone truly believes that what the United States is doing is unjustifiable.

And that's where Jane Goodall comes in. It's the same situation - one group of people was destroyed by another group of people, for an unacceptable reason. Should we be more concerned with the fact that our nation, our citizens, are at risk, or with some intangible idea that "war is wrong, no matter the situation"?

My great-grandparents came to America from four different countries: England, Poland, Italy and Holland. None of my great-grandparents knew each other before they set foot on American soil. If the United States had not existed, I wouldn't be here - and that makes me very grateful for what we have.

I don't agree with everything our government does. During the elections, I thought Bush was, well, a little slow on the uptake. I still do. But in this situation, I agree completely with what he is doing, as long as we're selectively targeting military bases and avoiding civilian areas.

I have to admit it's nice to see students getting involved in politics, for whatever reason. Maybe when this whole thing is over our generation will wake up and realize that we aren't just part of the United States of America, but part of the world as a whole.

As easy as it is to forget there's a whole world beyond our coasts, we need to start paying attention. Terrorist attacks are new to most of us, but to the rest of the world, they're a part of daily life.

Which brings back the chalk on the North Campus. These people seem to think that if we just forgive and forget, the problem will disappear, but history has shown that that very rarely happens.

Almost everyone I've spoken to has been annoyed or insulted by the writing; the attacks are still too new and painful for most people to view the issue objectively.

I don't really understand what people hope to accomplish by writing messages like that all over. Does anyone really walk by the writing, stop, and suddenly come to a realization that we truly shouldn't be at war?

Most people I know either laugh them off or ignore them completely. Some of the chalkings are even being 'altered' to switch the meaning; for example, from "bombs can never buy our safety" to "bombs can buy our safety" or "our grief is not a call for war" to "our grief is a call for war."

Why, instead of actually doing something constructive - writing an intelligent letter to our legislators, joining some sort of peace movement - do these people waste their time on graffiti?

Possibly because they realize they're in the minority, and the chances of ending the war are now very slim. The most we can hope for now is a quick and minimally fatal war that ends the threat to our country once and for all - although that is not likely to happen.

Offering advice to the members of her audience, Jane Goodall pointed out a fact of time and history: "In the end the evil that springs up, like Nazi Germany, does get pushed away."

And that is what we should be most concerned about.