Saturday, August 09, 2008

Five colored rings

Did you watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics last night? I did. After having been too cool for the Olympics since they were in Atlanta in 1996, I'm excited about them again. The dancers painting the giant scroll gave me goosebumps, and I loved the drummers. I thought the sea of people in white doing tai chi was stunning. The way the torch was lit with the gymnast running along the inside of the stadium was spectacular. I was touched by the tiny little earthquake survivor waving his little flags and marching in next to Yao Ming and his giant flag. I stayed up late to see it all.

Why was I against them for those years? I think I was busy being cynical or something... angst was the emotion of the 90s after all. Was it the McDonalds commercials? The Coca-Cola commercials? All these companies peddling unhealthy food in connection with an athletic event? Or how about the medal counts on the news every night? Then there was the whole IOC bribery scandal during the 2002 Winter Games. That didn't help my cynicism. Or was it the fact that there have been so many instances of Olympic Athletes testing positive for various performance enhancing drugs? Or the fact that the gymnasts all look 12 years old, and I'm not sure how I feel about children giving up their youth to train so hard?

I wonder why I'm excited at these games. Why not Athens? The Olympic stadium for the 2004 Olympics had just been finished when I was there for my study abroad program in 1998. Our friends who ran the Marathon finished in the stadium. The subway was being built while I was there-I seem to remember a newspaper kiosk disappearing as a newly dug tunnel collapsed into a building from a previous millennium. We visited Olympia while we were there. Greece and Athens have such significance for the Sleepy-Voiced Husband and me. Why didn't I get over myself then?

As someone who gets so indignant at the trampling of human rights, how is it that I'm not feeling I need to protest these games in a country with such a wretched human rights track record? There has been so much bad news coming out of China in the past year... lead paint in toys and cardboard in food. Or the American man who was murdered (CEO of Bachman's Floral in the Twin Cities).How is it I'm not busy ranting about all of the things that are wrong with China?

How is it that I can edit out all those things that have bothered me in the past?

I think I'm feeling the spirit of the games; the chance to put aside the disagreements, and even violent conflict, to meet as humans and enjoy friendly competition and camaraderie. Maybe a few wars later, I want to see something peaceful. I want to see positive relations between my country and the rest of the world. Maybe it's because I'm a mother now, and I want to see the positive aspects of the world in which I'm raising my daughter. I want to see the joy of physical activity in a country in which we face such morbid obesity. I want to see something we can appreciate as a family. I want to see something beautiful and inspiring.

I'm sure I'll go back to all of my causes and righteous indignation later, but for now, I just want to feel the hope and excitement of the games.

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