Monday, August 11, 2008

My Olympic Dream

"Olympism tends to bring together as in a beam of light, all those moral principles which promote human perfection." Pierre de COUBERTIN

Okay, I don't want to seem like a wet rag and I like watching athletic prowess and the drama of victory and defeat as much as the next sod, (I also like to get drunk occasionally, and even watch the finale of So You Think You Can Dance) but let's take a step back for a minute. I've been thinking about it, and in the spirit of the day I have decided that I too have an Olympic dream. I would like to hear a country with the courage to announce that they're not interested in the Olympics, that they never have any intention of participating and don't think participation in the games is a pathway to international peace, but rather a colossal waste of valuable resources that would better be channelled into more productive (and less harmful) programs and efforts (like infrastructure, affordable housing, clean water, affordable medicines, education etc. etc. the list is endless.) We can be dazzled by the spectacle of the event, but what is needed is some perspective. The Olympics is a show. The biggest show on earth. Nothing more. It is political in nature and celebrates nationalism (in 1936 Hitler understood this, he also understood that his own warped philosophy of eugenics, purity and physical beauty dovetailed nicely with the philosophy of "human perfection" espoused by Olympism.)

One aspect I have found compelling about the way activists have attempted to use the Olympic platform (pun intended) to draw attention to the cause of Tibet independence, is that it contrasts weakness, humility, vulnerability and spirituality with hardcore power (embodied by China itself) and the emphasis on physical strength and even, disturbingly, human perfection through physical prowess (as in the motto of the Olympic movement, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" meaning Swifter, Higher, Stronger.) Tibet appears to represent the utter antithesis of Olympism, a pathway to peace that is peace itself, not competition and conflict, and certainly not extravaganza.

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