Suit the action to the word, the word to the action... that you overstep not the modesty of nature.
- William Shakespeare
There was a story in my first grade reader about an old woman whose quilt was full of holes. Since she was very poor and couldnt afford a new one, she had an idea.
I know what Ill do, she said. Ill take my scissors and cut all the holes out.
We children laughed at such a silly idea. Even we knew her solution would only make the problem worse. Yet today, the way some people are choosing to solve the problems of their world seems just as silly to me as the one concocted by a fictional woman who was long on determination and short on common sense.
The thought occurred to me a few days ago as I passed the nearly finished Best Buy store across the street from the Augusta Exchange Shopping Center.
Since I often travel that route, Ive watched the building go up from the moment the trees were bulldozed away. I smiled when, with a little stretch of the imagination, the color scheme capitalized on our newly-spawned patriotic fever: brick-red, white, and blue.
Unfortunately, someone else had a different color scheme in mind.
Stop the war! Stop the hate! and other reminiscences of the Vietnam era were spray- painted in black all over one of those freshly-painted walls. Im guessing there are other structures, new and old - locally or across the country - which bear similar messages of hate on hate: law-breaking to prove a point. Im also sure some insurance company is about to raise its rates to cover the cost of reimbursement. I only hope the graffiti-mongers are among their clients.
Were baffled by those from half a world away who strap explosives to their body or fly planes into tall buildings to defend their defenseless cause. Eye for an eye justice went out the window long ago. Now its my body and hundreds of yours for an eye. Guinness Book of World Records, here I come.
I cant recall anyone in recent history who could top that record, but there are loads of examples even in the western world of going overboard, committing bizarre acts when something far more sensible - let alone legal - would have just as great an effect.
When we lived in Germany one of our soldiers robbed a branch of the American Express Bank on post. His reason? His wife, who worked there, had told him security was lax and, he said, he committed the crime to prove her point.
As it turned out, security was lax only because she was lax about where she put her keys. As far as I know the bank has never had another robbery, and our would-be hero is still testing security at Fort Leavenworth.
According to a recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, some pretty hefty law-breaking is going on even now by two related groups of people: The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and The Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Though these groups rarely use explosives, they dont mess around with spray paint. Arson is their weapon of choice.
In 1998 the ALF set fire to a Colorado ski resort, destroying $12 million in property and injuring scores of people; and the ELF has taken credit for 33 major crimes resulting in losses of $26 million in just five years. Since Sept. 11, both groups have committed a number of crimes against animal researchers and land developers. Their hue and cry? The country is so caught up in the war against terrorism that they have to do something drastic to get attention.
This all reminds me of a child in the throes of a temper tantrum - or a silly woman who thinks she can mend her blanket by making a bad situation worse.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
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