Friday, August 8, 2008
Does it matter?
Egocentricity: the state of being self-centered. And who isn't? How can you not view the world, and experience it, through your own eyes, filter it through your own experience, make sense of it through what you understand?
Did you watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games in Beijing? Look at China shine! Did your heart not recognize China's pride? Were their ceremonies not magnificent? Did you see the precision, the care, the unity, represented in each presentation? I was so impressed and moved. But I see this event, I understand it, as if it were staged in the USA and paid for by private donations. It's not.
At what expense-- at whose expense-- am I seeing this grander-than-ever introduction to an event that hearkens back to the ancient Athenians? An event performed in far simpler venues, for simpler reasons. Or were they?
Does what dazzles my eye, and impresses through technology-- a history lesson delivered via pyrotechnics-- also impress those who were hurt by the very country that stages the event that captures my imagination? This is a nation's pride on display for all the world to see. But what of the individual citizens? Are they dazzled?
At what expense to her own people did China display her glory? Halfway through the event a nagging voice said . . . be not deceived. This comes at great expense to many. And still I watch . . . one eye amazed and applauding, and the other spilling a tear. There was Tiananmen; there is Tibet.
And yet . . . we have our human rights violations, our horrors, in our brief 232-year history. Shameful ones. Have we risen above them yet? How much harder might it be for an ancient country like China, one bound in traditions for millennia the way its girls' feet were once bound? Might they need a longer time to unwrap the bindings?
Do you not see the beauty of the young athletes? Do their proud excited smiles not capture your heart? Skin colors from coal to cream. Does it matter? A language for every color-- some with alphabets, some without-- the words sound different, but they say the same thing. Does it matter? Do you see the symbols in the ceremonies? Peace, unity, harmony, togetherness, love . . . Do we not all want this?
What matters most? Our differences, or similarities? What matters most? Power, or understanding? What matters most? But it isn't this simple, is it? It isn't this simple at all.
It should be, but we just don't know how to make it work . . . yet. I'm not turning a blind eye to civil right violations. None of us should, in our country or any other. The love for our fellow man has to burn like the flame in the Olympic torch, and be carried from place to place until it burns in every heart.
It seems a distant hope, but I'd like to think it's possible.
The Olympics are a wonderful metaphor for world cooperation, the kind of international competition that's wholesome and healthy, an interplay between countries that represents the best in all of us.~John Williams