I have actually been quietly proud to see so many protestors turning out as the Olympic torch makes its journey. My two favorite cities, Paris and San Francisco, were the most recent locations, and they did not disappoint. The passion in so many people willing to show their support for the struggle in Tibet to me is proof that we, as a people, have not lost our humanity, or our ability to recognize the need to speak up and come together.
I have been turning over this idea in my head--should we--the US--and other countries boycott the Olympics this time around since they are held in China? The main reason being the Tibet issue, but there are so many other reasons in dealing with China. And anyone who thinks that the Olympics are not political is kidding themselves. The Olympics are about sports and goodwill, but we cannot all put blinders on during that time and forget everything else--especially not the arrogance of the abandonment of human rights. I do think the choice to host them there was a flawed one.
But I always think of the athletes when I think of the boycotts. How far apart the Olympic games are--and how this may be one athlete's one chance--and that boycott may not make the impact we hope on the world, but may mean the end of dreams --and livelihoods for athletes that don't deserve to pay for the world's shortcomings.
It's a double-edged sword and both are great arguments. Then, last night, I read an article in Time Magazine, by a writer named David Von Drehle. I loved the message he conveys, and he addresses this issue head on. While the lines may not be as clear for this Olympics as they were in Berlin, I think I have to, in the end, see Drehle's viewpoint. And there needs to be more responsiblity placed on the choice of the location for the games.
The following is the last paragraph from Drehle's article. You can read the full article here.
"But boycotts are empty gestures. Governments boycott, athletes suffer, and the only thing that changes is that the credibility of the Olympics as a festival of goodwill suffers another dent. Jesse Owens had the right idea. In 1936 he led the U.S. team at Hitler's Berlin Olympics--a black man in the land of Aryan supremacy. His four gold medals proved that quiet excellence can be a most eloquent statement."
Photo credits: Paris: Francois Mori/AP Photo, San Francisco: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo