Monday, March 1, 2010

"Power in the Collective Experience"

That from Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail in a great video essay he did for the CTV, I encourage you to find it on their Olympic site if you have the time.

After 17 days of the most impressive of feats, and most exciting of competitions, everyone in Canada (or at least here in Ottawa), is left with a cheery afterglow. Despite the faltering start, our first fears were not realized, these were not the worst Games ever, as The Times of London rather prematurely proclaimed only days into the events.

Everything ended up working out. However, as I said over at RedTory's place, the interesting thing for me is that it wasn't the IOC, or VANOC, that ended up righting the ship. No, the success was built on Vancouver and the generosity of the Canadian spirit. These Games were about boisterous curling crowds, spontaneous street hocky games, and welcoming locals. The athletes pitched in too. Could there have been a better first gold medal winner than Bilodeau, a more impressive athlete than Clara Hughes, a more enjoyable figure than Jon Montgomery, or a more inspirational person than Joannie Rochette? Technology, weather, and bad luck threw all they could at Vancouver, but the people made it wonderful all the same.

Some might not care for this mushy sentimentality. Tough. As Red says in the above linked post, the cynics will make themselves heard, and we will all be pressured to shoulder a certain amount of shame and guilt at having "wasted" money on something so trivial as a sporting event. They will grumble about the corporate sponsers. They will snort about professional athletes, as though there is something unseemly about the very best earning a living. We will be faces with false-choice after false-choice as we're told how many hospital beds, or MRI machines, or homeless shelters all that money could have purchased.

Let's not fall victim to the negativity though. These were great Games. For two weeks in the dreariest of months in the dreariest of times, Canadians were able to forget their troubles and give in to the most natural of human emotions. As I said in my very first post, the nation can accomplish great things when its resources are pooled. From our great buildings, to our museums, to our national parks, so many of the things that make life worth living, and that make it worth living in Canada specifically, exist because we, as a societ, cherish them and believe they are worth having. The Games were one of those things. There's nothing wrong with throwing a party once in awhile, and we shouldn't be ashamed that all our past success and the resultant wealth allow us to play the generous host. Well done Vancouver, well done Canada.

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