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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Cows, Colleges, and… Concussions?

<;“Hey, what happened? Wait – nevermind.” It was clear on my colleague’s face when I sat down with him at LDC for an unexpected lunch this past Monday afternoon. A skin-colored medical patch was on his forehead. He told me there were seven stitches shrouded by the patch, hiding under some convenient strands of hair. I knew he lived at Nourse Hall, and that was something worth noting, considering what I ended up learning from hearsay since Saturday. The facts still aren’t too clear to me at this point (and I defer the facts to the blotter). Even so, it’s troublesome to know that the reason for his seven stitches was something that never needed to happen.

You could say that some Carls had something of a “nuclear cow” this past weekend at 4th Musser, stemming from what may seem to be an innocuous tradition here: theft of a stuffed cow. And not just any cow. It was the Nolympics prize cow, the size of a dorm desk, won this year by Nourse’s freshmen in last month’s New Students Week. A noble prize it was, if not flush with plush. It is Nourse’s pleasure – and responsibility – to keep the cow, dubbed Misty Moo, and protect it at all costs. By sheer dumb luck, Misty pastured at 4th Muss last Friday night with the help of some new caretakers (assisted further by an unlocked door). The rest became history… Rather, the rest became a scuffle that resulted in some unexpected hospital trips to be made, medical scans to be conducted, stitches to be mended, and experiences to be talked about. Frankly, that the tussle over the cow happened on a Friday night is bad enough. Third week just ended – and then surprise! Then you need to get treated for a bruise? To imagine the stresses, the time lost, the bad start to the weekend. Add this to some pains, wherever they were felt. Beneath the machismo of the scars and the lost time for treatment and such, something very sinister has settled in.

A quote often attributed to the Duke of Wellington (though questionable) goes to say that “the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” It’s a massive jump of logic to connect insignificant little games of rugby to the violence of war, yet it does lend this idea: that perhaps the little things that we do, consciously or not, could lead to even greater decisions that can happen along the road. For all we know, the swiftness of actions in battle can trace their origins to being adept at rugby. That being said, we have experienced something seemingly insignificant – the theft of a stuffed cow. How is this sinister? Well, it has really nothing to do with the cow. It had more to do with what those involved with last Friday’s tussle let slip – greater things that matter. There is no doubt the pride of a cow, be it for the owners or the thieves, is one to cherish (and living 4th Burton, we could use a new floor décor!). But did it have to take priority over safety? Health? How could such a cow – an inanimate one – be more important than a fellow Carl – no, wait… a fellow human being!?

In saying so, I do not intend to degrade the character my colleagues in Musser and Nourse. They’re Carls – they have carried on and are now back to being awkward once more. (And again, I do not know the events of the evening exactly.) The question still stands: was it really worth all the trouble for it? Tradition is wonderful, and I can’t wait to plot for an attempt to steal the cow (did I say too much?), yet it is troubling that we can subconsciously let frivolity take hold of us, to the point of even forgetting the value of our health and all else. It is this kind of attitude, lacking “check yourself before you wreck yourself,” that carries people away, swept in high passions, forgetting their values. States in history have gone to wars for petty things from religious supremacy to little plots of land, while forgetting the people that truly mattered (those that were left anyway from all the fighting). If you want lighter fare than gruesome history, look to Jonathan Swift’s Lilliputians and Blefuscians in “Gulliver’s Travels”, fighting over the most mundane of things: breaking an egg. We risk perpetuating this sheer stupidity, real or fictional, and it could all begin here, fighting over a damn stuffed cow. This tradition wasn’t even meant to be fought over!

Surely enough we’ll soon move on, scars will heal, and Misty will pasture in one piece for the rest of the year, as will future cows. And it is in sure hope that we can move on from this, enlightened. They do tell us here at Carleton that we learn much outside from the classrooms. Last Friday serves as a reminder of the consequences of letting pettier things take precedence over greater things. After all, we are called to greater things at Carleton, to illuminate the world with our words, to paraphrase our motto. Before we go out to the world, let us make sure our words are about what matters. Let’s not have a cow.

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