London Calling to the Faraway Clowns

petals

With 204 nations taking part, nothing seems to bring the world together like the Summer Olympic Games. Nowhere was that symbolism better demonstrated than during the lighting of the Olympic cauldron last Friday night.

During the parade of nations, each country had a child carry out with them a “petal” that was later attached to a branch of the cauldron. When the individual petals were lit, they lifted up and came together to form one. Truly breathtaking.

Many people, especially westerners, give the impression that the Olympic Games are all about medals. How many medals will the US, Russia, China or whatever country you come from bring home this time? Honestly, who cares. Did you know if you took population and GDP into account you’d find the most successful nation four years ago was actually Jamaica?

The Olympics aren’t about medals at all, in spite of of how the media decides to promote it. The games are about fair play, getting along with others (despite the fierce competition) and most importantly; playing to the best of your ability. The Olympic motto is “faster, higher, stronger” not “win, win, win.”

It’s a shame the leaders of our world don’t strive to be on par with our athletes. Imagine politicians playing fair, getting along or even doing their best, what a world it might be. One only needs to look at the United States and the upcoming election to comprehend my point.

In regards to fair play, the Republicans have been playing dirty. Up to five million voters are being left off the voter rolls in various Republican led states, they have denied passage of job bills to sabotage the economy and are taking in untold millions of dollars in corporate interests thanks to Citizens United. It’s been only about winning since Obama took office.

I’ll admit I don’t watch much American television, but the little I have seen tells me both parties don’t get along when it comes to political ads, in fact you’d think they’re at war. I’ve seen advertisements using an opponent’s statement out of context and Super PAC ads claiming just about anything.

I’ve yet to see an ad that talks about past accomplishments and more importantly I haven’t seen either party try and explain how they intend to improve the country. It’s about burying the other guy, instead of raising yourself up.

It’s also quite clear that neither party leader is living up to their full potential. Mitt Romney has changed his views more than I change my shorts. How can you do your best when you can’t even decide what the best is? Obama on the other hand knows what he believes, but is too chicken to fight for it, gun control is a prime case in point.

I might be using an American example here, but the same can be said for international politics as well, whether it’s elusive peace in the Middle East, the economic situation in Europe or global warming.

Most Olympians sacrifice everything just to participate in the games, often without the prospect of winning something. They do so with the hopes of testing the human spirit and pushing the boundaries of what humans can accomplish. It’s a disgrace that our leaders aren’t willing to do the same.

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Congratulations to the Canadian women’s gymnastic team for advancing to the team finals for the first time in Canadian history!

3 comments

  • If the games are about getting along with others, can you tell me why Islamic countries complained and didn’t want a mere moment of silence to pay respect to the Jewish athletes who had died?

    The games are more than just medals, I agree, but winning is very important. When you watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, as I’m sure you have, is it really about fair play and getting along with others? No, it’s about winning at all costs.

    Of course, there is still, in many cases, a manner of mutual respect between athletes at the games in sports, but winning is why you’re there — you’re there to represent your country to win. Because your country puts faith in you.

    I’m sitting here at work and people are watching sports with Canada competing. We want Canada to win — we don’t care if they have fun. Just do well. Because honestly, anyone with a hint of national pride isn’t going to be pleased if an athlete came in last place, but hey, at least he or she was having fun, right? 

    • Perhaps they don’t wish to pay respect due to a 45 year old illegal occupation. 

      You can’t compare the professional athletes to the amateur ones that make up most of the Olympics. Professionals are paid millions to win, amateurs are paid just enough by the government (or if they’re lucky a sponsor) so that they can train without worrying about losing their house, they are paid to compete and represent the country win or lose.

      I want Canada to do well as much as anyone, but I was just as proud of the gymnastics team as I was with the bronze medal divers. 

      •  It’s nothing about paying respect to a so-called “illegal occupation” when it’s rightfully there’s. Besides, we’re talking about people who died. If Muslim countries don’t want to honour them, fine. But to make it so there wouldn’t be a minute of silence for everyone?

        Or how about Lebanon refusing to practice next to Israel unless a barrier was put up? Care to defend that for me?

        You’re saying that the Olympics are amateur athletes in most cases… That’s true to an extent, however, A lot of the sports these people play don’t pay much, sure — but there’s a good portion of sports that feature high-profile athletes. Look at the USA Basketball team for instance. Or Canada’s hockey team during the winter olympics. How about tennis? There’s a lot of high profile ones. Soccer, not so much, but that’s because of the world cup and regulations.

        And even if they’re amateur — they def want to win. I just think you’re putting too much emphasis on having fun where a lot of it is still on success — that’s why there’s a medal count and people keep score.

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