Sunday, August 10, 2008

Citius, Altius, Fortius.

It is sometimes hard for a thinking human to keep their faith. As humans, we have a built in survival-based compulsion to focus on the negative aspects of life. We lap up headlines about murders, violence and tragedy and our media happily responds with more and more because, hey, it sells papers and advertising. So often do we hear such negative information that a saturation point is quickly reached (usually about the late teens) where we start thinking that the whole world is nothing but a sea of horror and bloodshed. People sometimes wallow in this cynicism and ennui for the rest of their lives.

The greater tragedy is that they sometimes grow to like their little shells of cynicism. Hope takes effort and risks disappointment, something they fear they cannot stomach again. But in order to ignore hope, they must ignore the thousands of small victories and small blessings going on around them every day.

In a city of 400,000 people such as I live in, on any one day in 6 months their might be a murder. Though the tragedy of this cannot be summed in words, the greater tragedy is to ignore the 399,999 other people who didn't die. People who raised children, loved one another, earned some money, built some stuff, fixed things, created things, believed in things or just held their shit together for one... more... day. Do these little victories mean nothing? How short we sell our wonderful world to dismiss this collective victory as insignificant.

People are far too ready to believe that everyone is selfish, the world is doomed, and that there are no good people in the world.

But today, this week, it's a little harder to do that.

I am a round-heeled pushover for the Olympics. Whatever you may think about the origins of the symbolism, the inevitable politics that go along with any endeavor of this size, or the attitudes of some of the participants, there are so many participants and organizers who so obviously believe in the Olympic creed and Olympic ideal that it warms the heart. I sat, watching misty-eyed as the Parade of Nations, some nations with a smaller population than the seating capacity of the Olympic stadium, marched past, smiling and waving, proudly holding their flag, their symbol of national and cultural pride aloft.

In a time when the global market is a-changin', when the UN is floundering and alliances are shifting rapidly, the Olympics are going strong. More and more smaller countries are amping up for a hosting bid. Cities like Lima and Baku in Azerbaijan, Delhi (which will hopefully spur the India Olympic movement as a country of over 1,132,446,000 people only fielded a team of 57 athletes for 302 events) and Rio de Janeiro, the darkhorse candidate for the 2016 Olympics siting the fact that South America has NEVER hosted an Olympics, ever. They've got me cheering for their bid over Chicago's bid, even thought that would be Teh Awesome.

Even though I do, strongly believe that the concept of “Nations” is outdated and often dangerous while we are all, quite obviously, residents of the same, small, fragile blue marble floating through an unfriendly vaccum, it's fun to watch people's shift, split and mingle allegiances during these games. I've got friends who are cheering for Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Mexico, Spain and so on. I myself shall be cheering for the U.S. (obviously), France, China, Ghana, Great Britain, Ireland and any small country that hasn't won a medal yet. Especially Micronesia and Lichtenstein.

The Olympics might not be perfect, but it's a reflection of us. Humanity is not perfect, but we're all trying to be better. We're trying to live up to our ideals and though we may not make it 100% of the time, we keep trying. We deserve credit, we deserve hope and we deserve a little satisfaction for those little victories. Maybe if we recognize our successes, it makes it easier to keep trying. Yes this is corny, but for today, for this week, I dare ya to believe it.

Citius, Altius, Fortius.

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