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Spider monkeys in South America like their nuts. So much so, in fact, that if they reach inside an object to get some with an opening too narrow to pull their fists out, the monkeys will never let go of the nuts. They’ll be trapped.

Hunters in the area take advantage of the spider monkey’s pigheadedness by dropping heavy jars filled with nuts on the ground. The monkeys will reach inside, but the fists their monkey hands make while tightly clutching the nuts are too large to pull through the jar’s narrow opening. They’re incapable of letting go of what they find crucial. So the monkeys sit there, prisoners of their own stubbornness, while the hunters calmly walk back, pick them up and toss them in a bag.

We’ve reached the end of another semester, readers, and we’re back discussing the same topics we were four months ago. Debate rages over immigration reform with the passage of Arizona’s immigration legislation requiring police officers to ask citizens to prove legal status, which has inspired protests and captured the eyes and ire of a nation. Pro-life and pro-choice speakers war over Oklahoma’s new abortion bill, which protects a doctor from being sued if he chooses not to tell a woman that the baby she’s carrying has a birth defect, allowing doctors to withhold information from, or blatantly lie to a mother if they feel the fetal test results will encourage her to consider abortion.

Next year, I’ll be gone, and another devastatingly handsome columnist will take my place and argue the same points I have. The topics and the violent quarrels behind them will never alter. What can change is us.

What should you learn in college? That the world is not made of absolutes. That it’s full of thousands and thousands of people, all with different ridiculous beliefs and ideologies and tastes and sexual proclivities and favorite movies and preferences for butter or for margarine.

College is a time for argument, a time to find out where you stand. But it’s also a time for exposure to differing ideals. If you learn anything from me this semester, learn this: No opinion should be so tightly clung to that it prevents you from hearing the opinions of others.

Recalcitrant, uncompromising espousal of anything becomes dangerous at the point where we become completely unwilling to loosen our holds on our beliefs. At some point, readers, we have to be able to let go of our nuts. See what I did there?

This is the last column I’ll write for The State Press, and perhaps the last one you’ll read this year, so I leave you, ASU, with this maxim from Abraham Lincoln (as seen in the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure):

“Be excellent to each other. And ... party on, dudes!”

Zach will miss his soap box. E-mail him anytime at

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