Yesterday, I lit a Candle for Tibet.
Today, I am glued to the TV, watching the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics Games.
Conventional wisdom would have me believe there is a disconnect between the two. How can I at the same time expound the cause of Tibet and support the dictatorial regime in China?
I can’t, and I don’t.
I am all for Tibetian independence, or at least for Tibetians being allowed to live their lives in their homeland in the manner in which they want it without undue interference. I do not support the Chinese human rights violations in Tibet, any more than I condone their efforts to wipe out the entire Tibetian population systematically and scientifically.
BUT, the Olympic Games is not about China, or the regime that happens to be ruling China today.
The Olympic Games is about the people who participate in the Games - the men and women (and often children) who train so hard for what is considered the ultimate glory.
The Olympic Games is about the people who stand on the victory podium – that metal disc on a piece of ribbon making meaningful all the sweat and blood.
The Olympic Games is about the people who turn in their personal best – winning is important, but more important is being the best you can possibly be.
The Olympic Games is about the people who overcome pain to finish – the marathon runner with a sprained ankle straggling in half an hour after the last contestant, the gymnast who climbs back onto the balance beam to finish the routine after falling off it twice.
The Olympic Games is about the people who struggle to make it, but can’t – the thousands who’s fastest times and heaviest weights are just not good enough to let them be Olympians.
The Olympic Games is about the triumph of the human spirit as much as it is about the triumph of the human body. The Olympic Games is beyond politics – why else in ancient Greece were wars put on hold so the Games could go on?
When I lit a candle for Tibet, perhaps I was also lighting a candle for bringing back the ethos of the Games.