Most of America is caught up in Olympic fever to varying degrees. Of course we must not forget the opportunitiy that the Beijing venue provides for opening some much-needed discussions about human rights within China, and globally. Anchorage’s own Matt Browner-Hamlin made his statement loud and clear as he unfurled a Tibetan flag at an equestrian event in Hong Kong. Others around the world have done the same to raise the issues of repression and violence against Tibetans, and to promote the Tibetans’ wish for a semi-autonomous government, and the right to preserve their religious and cultural heritage.
But there is another kind of political message that has sprung from these games. As always, the once-every-four-year competition brings the world together like no other event. Today the warring countries of Russia and Georgia saw their athletes embrace on the public stage. The humanity of these games goes a long way to remind us that although world governments may differ, people are the same. And oftentimes people as individuals are able to remind us that there is hope, even when their governments behave in ways that lead us to believe there is none.
Most people who watch the Olympics can’t help but be caught up in that human-ness, that feel good aura that the world can come together and celebrate our better selves. Any why shouldn’t we? Politics, and the nightly news, war and genocide, remind us over and over about the worst side of humanity….so what a relief to allow yourself to feel optimistic, and positive for a little while.
Surely, even the presidential candidates will use these precious moments to capitalize on their own positive messages…to play on that warm feeling that is so pervasive in the homes of those watching the games. You’d think.
Compare the two ads that ran during the opening ceremonies in Beijing.
Hmmm. Hopeful message filled with innovative ideas, smiling people and confidence in the future vs. Creepy attack ad with foreboding drumbeats and your children fading into inky blackness…. Who gets the gold medal for advertising at the Beijing Games? You be the judge.