Wednesday, April 09, 2008

On My Mind... The Olympic Torch Relay

"Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it."

-Albert Einstein

Last Monday, Students For A Free Tibet, held a nonviolent protest on the Golden Gate Bridge. The three young people, climbed 150 feet and unfurled a banner which simply read, "One World, One Dream Free Tibet 08." By the time the news showed the demonstrators, there was no time to get out to the bridge to photograph their amazing feat. I wish I could have been there. Not only do I admire their dedication to their beliefs, but I am forever grateful that they made more then one statement that day. Homeland security, at least in my neck of the woods, is pretty much nonexistent.

The question on every ones mind kept being asked by the local media. "How could these students, climb the side of the bridge with such ease? Wasn't anyone watching? In post 9/11 shouldn't there have been more security cameras? I wanted to know how this could happen as well. Sadly, I already knew the answer. I have written about it before. San Francisco, and the Bay Area received $34 million in funding from the DHS, up 25% the year before. It sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn't enough. Not in the world we are asked to live in. Here in the Bay Area we have the Silicon Valley to think of, we have the 4 Bay Area bridges, and of course the many roads and highways which connects everything together. We have the Caldicott tunnel, and the major airports in S.F., Oakland, and San Jose, and the list goes on.

Ok, the argument can be made that San Francisco dropped the ball, and it would be true. After all, where were the city police, and the Highway Patrol? Given the problems with the torch relay which have already taken place on it's world wide journey, couldn't they have maybe had extra security on the bridge? Yes. I would have thought they would have done that but there is another point. Are individual cities doing their part to cover themselves every day? Well, depending on how each city might be struggling, it may not be an easy question to answer. Things are difficult throughout the country. Federal funding needs a second or a third or a fourth look. I think we can all agree that America needs to get it's priorities straight.

Now, when it comes to the issue of the torch relay, I don't know exactly how to feel. On the one hand the Olympics is about celebrating the finest athletes around the world. On the other hand the demonstrations are valid to bring awareness to the very sad, very oppressive conditions forced on the people of Tibet, and China. Sigh. I think if I were living in those conditions, I would want someone to stand up and help me. I would want someone to not just get my message out to the world, but to take a stand. Sadly, when the Olympics are over, who will continue the message? Oh you will see the occasional "Free Tibet" bumper sticker, but nothing much will have changed. So why protest? Because peaceful, civil disobedience is a beautiful option. And once in a great while it leads to a better world. Where would we be today, without the brave actions of Rosa Parks?

By the way, did you know that in the ancient games, only free men who spoke Greek could participate? Did you know that not only were women not allowed to participate, but married women were barred from the games under penalty of death! Single women were allowed to attend. Interesting how times have changed.

Opinions, opinions. Tell me what you think. Have you ever participated in a protest? What would make you join one? How do you feel about the Olympics being held in China, given their attitudes regarding human rights? Will you watch the Olympics? Sound off. Sing out. Tell me what's on your mind.

The Real Story Of The Ancient Olympic Games

Golden Gate Bridge
January, 2005


Suzanne R said...

I am absolutely flabbergasted that they were able to get the banner up on the bridge without falling to their deaths in tbe process. The logistics of that feat had to have been amazing. As for what we should do about the Olympics, I don't know. I am still thinking about that. I appreciate your thoughts about the situation. It does make me feel quite ill that the games are in China this year. Perhaps my body is reacting appropriately where my brain hasn't quite gotten the message yet.

fdtate said...

Quite a feat. Too bad you didn't get any pics.

I'd be very surprised if future historians will be able to tell of the 2008 Olympics without using the word "cluster." What in the world was the IOC thinking when it picked Beijing as the host city? While I don't think the US should boycott the games, I think President Bush should sit out the opening ceremonies (he probably won't). I'll have my own personal boycott -- refusing to watch any of the coverage of the games.

While we're talking "did you knows," I was very surprised to find out the origins of the Olympic torch relay.