The protests over the Olympics have really gotten my attention. My very first reaction was why would people mess with this wonderful tradition of the Olympics and the carrying of the torch. I mean, what could be better than that? But that isn’t the point, is it… People aren’t protesting the Olympics, but they feel compelled to speak against the host country. They are saying ‘something is rotten in Denmark’ (or China, in this case) and we can’t just say, “Rah Rah Olympics” when the host is oppressing a nation (Tibet, again, in this case).
Now I’ve no intention to comment on human rights abuses in the People’s Republic of China. But I find the idea that the world (i.e. citizens of other countries a long, long way away from them, and with little or no say in that country) feel it is within their rights, responsibilities, even duty to hold China accountable. I realize expatriated Tibetans, who are very involved with the situation are doing a lot of the protesting, but their support comes from their new countries of residence.
One of the unhelpful responses is for us westerners to point our fingers at China and say, “Ha, teaches you right. You are doing bad things and the world is unhappy with you.” We are tempted to do that because China has us all scared silly with their growing muscle in the economic, research, population, manufacturing, etc worlds. You name it, after being in the lead so long we don’t know what to do with the fact that we see a much bigger vehicle approaching quickly in our rearview mirror.
The fact is that the world is shrinking. While the world is getting more and more sophisticated and urban anonymity is more and more available to us, we are also getting closer and closer to each other. We have a million ways, and a million watchdogs helping us look over each others’ shoulders. And so our noses are in each others’ business. Rightly or wrongly… doesn’t matter. We are doing it.
Here is the other fact, lest we be smug Americans (this could also be written for Europeans, Australians, Japanese, whoever… but I’ll let them speak for themselves). If the Olympics were to be held in the U.S. the torch bearing would be going no more smoothly. Can you think of any nation whose citizens wouldn’t be stopping the torch and saying, “Out of Iraq!” or “You’re not our policeman!” or “Clean up your industry before you tell others to do it!” or “Free the detainees in Guantanamo!” or “Restore Civil Rights in your country!”
Again, I’m not endorsing those critiques (although I do have my opinions; you have to buy me a beer, not just read my blog to get those), but I am saying that the same accountability the ‘world’ is leveling at China would also be leveled against us. And we’d have to face it. Here’s what we can have control over… actually two things:
1. Is it a good thing? Is this just entitled judgmentalism on a global scale? Or is it a global conscience learning how to flex its muscle? I’d venture a guess that it is a little bit of both and that such attempts are probably the only way the global community will learn to be mature with its new found power. Besides, its going to happen, might as well get the adolescent acne stage going so it can be over with.
2. Are we going to seek to be ‘above scrutiny’ or not? Is there, at least some, truth in the charges coming from all quarters that we can learn from? Again, I’ll venture a guess and say, “yes.”
Are there some early sounds of the kingdom of God in these groans of childbirth? Hmmm…