I believe that I am a pretty good debater. Not because I am the smartest or the most well informed…but because I am pretty good at seeing both sides of an issue. I have always been a believer that the strongest way to argue your point is to
- Understand the arguments against you
- Recognize and acknowledge their strengths
- Systematically tear those strengths to shreds by demonstrating how your strengths are …well… stronger. (Clearly my well-spokenedness also contributes to me being the most awsomest debate-type-person ever!)
I am empathetic by nature (notice I didn’t say sympathetic…BIG difference) so understanding all sides of an issue comes very easily to me. While normally I appreciate that about myself, there are times when it leaves me stuck. Times when I can so clearly see the merit in the different arguments that I become incapable of deciding how I feel. This is how the China Summer Olympics have left me…stuck.
I love watching the Olympics. I am more of a Winter Olympics girl, but the Summer games usualy excite me as well. The spirit of it, the excitement as the unexpected stories unfold…all of it keeps me loading up my Tivo for a few weeks every two years. This year is different though. I am having a hard time buying into the Olympic spirit while China is hosting the games.
It feels wrong to jump in and commit to my Olympic obsession when they are in a country that treats its people so badly. I can’t forget the censorship and opression that so many face. It doesn’t help that China has very publicly decided to enforce that censorship on the foreign journalists and visitors attending the games. It just sort of rubs salt in the wound. The Olympics bring big cash to the host country and watching it feels like I’m contributing to their windfall.
As I decide whether or not to watch the replay of the opening ceremonies tonight, I already know that I will see little to no footage on the Tibet protesters that were arrested for being in the vicinity of the ceremony in posession of the wrong flag. NBC’s feeds are all being passed through the government censors and they have been notified that they can expect their telephone and internet access to be monitored. Hardly an environment to get accurate coverage of the entire Olympic story.
On the other side, I can appreciate that the spotlight on China only raises awareness of it’s shortcomings in the human rights department. I am aware that in this day and age there is no practical way for China to keep the damaging stories from getting out. There are too many tourists with cameras walking around to prevent amatuer reporting of the stories that the major networks may have trouble covering in real time. I am more than a little bit fascinated by that idea. I also really hate the idea of the athletes feeling less recognized and appreciated due to a location that they had no control over.
So what to do. I will probably allow myself to get sucked in as I always do, but it just won’t feel as pure as it should. I am annoyed and sad that the International Olympic Committee chose China and put many in the position of feeling like watching a diving competition is somehow a moral decision.