It is becoming ever harder to be disengaged in college. Trudging through the quads to work or class, even the most disinterested student at the University of Chicago is forced to notice the myriad posters and fliers advertising events that range from academic lectures to campus cookouts. We may refuse to read them, but we know they’re there. Even keeping your head down is no longer safe, as the advertisements have moved to the ground, and colorful chalk messages demand that you Google Ron Paul or Come Out to Our Awesome Event! Our school looks like the bastard love child of Playskool and a PR firm.
At first, the colors took some getting used to. They were too cheerful, too varied, too not-gray. But we let it go. The messages were sometimes interesting, calls to action or entertainment, but we hurried over them on our way to class. But the last straw, the death blow to our inertia, was the inspirational ones. Biblical quotes on campus telling us to give our burdens to the Lord–this was too much.
They appear on the campus in all the main thoroughfares, these comforting excerpts from Psalms and other such entries from The Book. But damn it, these are my burdens! I will carry them and be miserable if I want to! I will not be told to believe what is beyond my problem set! Recently, indignation was expressed in dining halls and stairwells, in groups of superior intellectuals of the type only the University of Chicago can produce.
Then a hero emerged, the champion of intellect who thought that these quotes were a threat to our intelligence and an insult to our reason. He took up his chalk and mercilessly scrawled a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason.” Oh, thank…whom, exactly?
It seemed the mind was alive and well, and the economics majors need not worry about the holes inside themselves where some say souls should be. Rain and shuffling feet have worn away the quotes, and even the great debate outside of Cobb has faded. But reason requires constant challenges. Even now, more quotes are being written. The mysterious religious chalkers are at it again, daring to bring hope to the quads and spirit to the campus. We can only hope there will be more Franklin quotes.