Darfur not only African tragedy occurring during the Olympics
The thing is, I’ve always loved the Olympics. For as long as I can remember, I have faithfully allowed my eyes to gaze at the screen to the point of burning discomfort because I didn’t want to miss a thing. Sports that I would normally never watch in any other context for longer than a few seconds- volleyball, for example – I would make sure to watch entire matches from beginning to end. It even got to the point where I was beginning to understand what the sport was all about which, of course, made viewing considerably more enjoyable.
So this year, when the stories began to appear about the connections between the Chinese government and the ongoing gruesome atrocities in Darfur, I wasn’t quite sure what made the most sense as a course of personal action. Like most sane folks I was sickened by China’s involvement in the horror. And like most folks who pay attention to the news, I wasn’t surprised that our government wasn’t making more noise about the situation since China virtually owns us by way of our national debt. Uncle Sam’s got a brand new massa.
As I have said in earlier posts, I couldn’t see boycotting the Olympics because, as horrible as the Darfur situation is, I am convinced there will always be a similar situation each and every Olympic year until world’s end.
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of human nature, I do realize, but I think it’s honest. If the Olympics are used each and every time as the preferred global platform from which to launch an international protest/boycott then we may as well cancel all future Olympics because four years from now there will be another equally gruesome, equally deserving atrocity occurring somewhere else in the world with a connection to the Olympics. And then again in 2016. And in 2020. 2024. 2028…
Matter of fact, there are other gruesome situations going on right now that aren’t receiving quite the same level of coverage as Darfur because – and I’m guessing – of a lack of connection to the Olympics. One good example is Zimbabwe, which happens to be another African country also currently going through hell. That’s not to say that the swiftly deteriorating situation occurring in Zimbabwe has not been covered (otherwise how would I know about it?) but the coverage of Zimbabwe’s freefall destruction pales in comparison to Darfur. And let me say that I prefer not to get into the argument of which African country is suffering the most because when you reach the level of suffering experienced by the residents of Zimbabwe and Darfur, it is truly senseless to begin drawing distinctions as to which one is better off. The suffering must stop is the only sane answer.
But I’m willing to believe that if the Chinese government had the same level of connection to Zimbabwe as it does to Darfur, then we would be hearing considerably more about that situation, and there would most likely be a Team Zimbabwe as well. No, I am not belittling what Team Darfur is doing in the slightest. I have major respect for their efforts and accomplishments. Rather, what I am saying is that sometimes we have to step back and realize that possibly there is a better, more equitable way to choose where and upon whom to shine our Spotlight of Atrocity.
I’m rambling a bit. Well, maybe more than a bit. So without going on and on, I’ll just say that while I do support the protests of the China/Darfur Olympics, and the reasons for those protests, I would hope that we would all continually keep an equal focus on those areas of disaster in our world that may not necessarily have the benefit of being somehow tied to a well-publicized global mega-event. It is considerably harder to keep those areas of crises in the news and on the front burner, but it is no less critical.
As for those who have read this far still wondering when I was going to say whether or not I am watching the Olympics, the answer is yes I am watching the Olympics. Because in the midst of it all, the ability of athletes around the globe to be able to compete not only country against country but, much more importantly, person against person, still represents an ideal worth upholding, even when that olympic ideal is sometimes held captive by the very forces it purports to rise above.
Maybe that’s naive, but that’s just my two cents.
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