Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sporting harmony

What a strange and complex world we're inhabiting at the moment.  Surely few periods in history have displayed more polarising splits?

Society is riddled with divisions, divisions racial, political, sexual and religious . . . divisions often exacerbated by social media.
Even the weather is unpredictable, echoing this theme of general disruption.

Why, I wonder, is so much passion rising to the surface?

Our leaders are contentious, the majority feel sidelined.  Frustrated, many go online and resort to ill-tempered wrangling.

This aggressive state of mind is graphically portrayed by a caption that I came across yesterday in a local card-shop.

Did the shop really think that such a message reflected the spirit of Valentine's Day?

In view of worldwide discord and disorder, it's all the more remarkable that sport, in the form of the current Winter Olympics, has succeeded in its aim
. . .  that of uniting us in harmonious competition.

At the Games' Opening Ceremony, Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC spoke movingly of the powerful message of peace that sport brings to the world.   "Those participating in the Games," he declared, "are stronger than all the forces wanting to divide them".

And surely he's right?
Do we question the politics of an Olympic ice-skater?  The sex of a skier?  The faith of each member of an ice-hockey team?
On the contrary, we watch them in admiration and delight.

So, how is it that sport is such a powerful advocate of goodwill?

The many factors that divide us demand allegiance, obedience and a degree of subservience.
Sport is different.   Within a framework of rules, it enables the personal talents of each participant to be developed for their own benefit, the benefit of a team, and, in the case of the Olympics, the benefit of their nation.

Not only that, in achieving a high degree of skill, each sportsman acquires respect from all those who have chosen the same path.  Sport is competitive, but it is also the place where competitors learn from each other, teach each other, and admire and respect their joint achievements.

Let's give ourselves a brief respite from Brexit negotiations, from harrowing coverage of the war in Syria, from general disharmony and censoriousness, and from the disturbing elements of fake news.

Instead, let's revel in the infectious and heart-warming spirit of the Olympics . . . in the joys and challenges of competitive skiing, skating, ice-hockey, curling and snow-boarding.

But what of the future when the Games come to an end?
What then for those of us with little or no sporting ability?  Is there anything that might continue to bring us together and keep us away from our smartphones?

We could, of course, seek solace and sanity in Nature . . . develop our individual artistic skills . . . or, and here's an idea, perhaps we could encourage each other to sing?
What if we poured our energy and creativity into the harmonious, non-contentious unity of music?

Click here and, in a far from sunny political climate, see if you agree!