Friday, February 21, 2014
Gold, Silver or Bronze?
Here I am, made disconsolate by the piles upon piles of snow we've had this winter and the never-ending minus minus cold with plus plus 90 mile an hour winds straight off the North Pole. It is warmer there than here and except for a trip by taxi to the mall and a shopping trip with elder son who picked me up at the front door in his big 4 x 4 tundra-capable vehicle I haven't left the condo since Jan 10th. Oh I lie. We had a condo board meeting at a restaurant last week. I rode along with another member. So I have been out three times since Jan 10th! All three times I walked down the cleared sidewalk to the curb.
Here's an actual transcript of this morning's newscast:
"28 killed in Kyiv protests overnight, and CANADA picked up THREE more gold medals at Sochi. Now, from London, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, downtown Burbank, St. John's Newfoundland, Paris, Mogadishu, Saskatoon, a remote village in the Amazon Basin, from atop a pile of burning tires in Kyiv, the summit of Everest, the Marianas Trench, AND Putin Square in Sochi - our reporters are here to tell you at agonizing length 17 different versions of how their childhoods affected their reactions to the women's bobsled team winning gold, and their psychological trauma at our skaters only winning silver medals in figure skating…"
Commercial break …. for funeral insurance, pills that give 12 hour relief from arthritic pain or make your pecker stand at attention, and for walk-in-tubs for the elderly and disabled. (Commercials vary by time slot - as you may guess, 10:00 am is aimed at the retired crowd.)
Sochi coverage recommences: More of what we said before, yada, blah, blah....
Meanwhile the crawler at the bottom of the screen recounts the number of dead in volcanic eruptions, genocide and revolution in several countries, the discovery that the groundwater of entire states is now contaminated by fracking, floods are devastating England, a drought is threatening food production and drinking water in California, several politicians are convicted of crimes against humanity, it's snowing in St. Petersburg FLORIDA and 78 degrees F in St. Petersburg RUSSIA.
And yes, I get crabby like this every time the Olympics come around. I know the athletes work hard to be able to accomplish these feats of skill and strength, and I am not critical of the athletes themselves, but if we put the money and effort that goes into the Olympics into the world's energy, health and food crises we could solve those problems.
Every host city has turfed the poor and vulnerable from their homes, built the hugely overpriced buildings on the site and then robbed their citizens blind through increased taxes for 20 years to build Olympic venues and turn them into armed camps. Montreal hosted the Olympics in 1976, and just paid the last bill for it last year! That's 37 years to pay for two weeks of chest-thumping. One hopes Montrealers are still warmed at the hearth of Olympic memory. (As an aside: Has no one else noticed that the Olympic Flame in Putin Square looks like a huge erection with a flame spurting from it or all we all pretending we don't see that? I never know what to think in these situations, but I know it's not polite to mention so I probably won't say anything.)
What I really want to ask is - Why not a "We Have to Live On This Earth" Olympics? Let countries compete for gold, silver and bronze medals for developing solutions to the pressing problems of humanity rather than pouring billions of scarce dollars into arenas where people can skate really fast, or do flips in the air. Of course we all know this is crazy talk, but you've read this far. Might as well finish the page.
There could be a "competition cycle" of 12 years, with three divisions. All strategies would be public domain open-source, so they could be used, expanded, built on, manipulated, refined, etc.
Year 1 of the cycle) Teams compete to medal for gold, silver or bronze in the development of strategies to produce commercially viable sources of clean, renewable energy.
Year 4 of the cycle) Teams compete to medal for gold, silver or bronze in the development of strategies to grow healthy food for people within 100-200 miles of where they live.
Year 8) Teams compete to medal for gold, silver or bronze in the development of strategies which communities could use/adapt to insure that the health, education, nutritional needs of all its citizens are met.
Year 12) The cycle repeats: Teams compete to medal for gold, silver or bronze in the development of strategies to produce commercially viable sources of clean, renewable energy.
Sport has value. It provides motivation for physical activity, is a binding force and an outlet for competitiveness. It provides a lot of joy, but when the glorification of sport takes precedence over providing the necessities of life for a country's citizens and becomes a financial burden on its most vulnerable then it's time to reassess what is truly important.
I'm done. I've had it with the CBC until the Olympics are over. Good luck to the Canadian athletes, they've worked hard and I am genuinely moved when I see how much of themselves even those who do not qualify for a final try at the medals have invested. Many of them are wonderful examples for our children, but it's now time to also do our best for the world we live in, not for profit, but simply for the love of doing good, and for the love of all humankind.