The Olympic Test...

Later today and over the next two weeks, the world will witness the ONE true test of a country's well-being: the Olympics. This year's games have even more riding on them because of the host country's potential place in the world is at stake.

Ahh, China... everyone wants to like you, but you don't make it very easy. This is supposed to be your "coming-out party", but unfortunately the only invited guests are those who are sympathetic to your views or are uncompelled to express any dissent. Hey , I love parties, and it sucks when that one dude with the bad attitude shows up. He always does; there's no stopping him and it's best to just deal with it (not beat the guy and throw him into a 3x6x3 box to rot for the rest of his days). I think the world would be more trusting of China and its people if they didn't come across as being so sneaky. And it's not just the out-in-the-open sneakiness (quite the oxymoron) that bothers me, but what really chaps my ass, is the facade the Chinese people have been putting on (or have been forced to put on). 'We are so happy to welcome you to our games. We hope you will find our country most accommodating' is what they'll say. My best guess is that for the next two-and-a-half weeks, the Chinese Government will make every journalist as comfortable as possible, showering them with gifts and pro-China literature, all to assure that during their time in Beijing, nothing will seem amiss. Even one of China's most vocal critics, a homegrown movie-maker, has given in and is producing the spectacle that is the opening ceremonies.

These Olympics are also a test for every other participating country, too. Here in the U.S., right now, we are beginning to doubt our own greatness. For the first time in my life, the United States is not a given to win the medal count. We may not win the gold in basketball (a sport we invented, and first shared with the world only 16 years ago). Not only that, our athletes seem to have been instructed to not to rock any boats. It's as if they've been told if they speak out, they can forget about that Tonight Show appearance. Sport was the one place you could count on American success; by taking the biggest, fastest, and strongest from around the world and making them ours, we could exercise our dominance over other, less viable countries. Our best and brightest would then get freedom to talk about any injustices they know of. Now our best and brightest (i.e. The US Men's Basketball Team) stay at the Four Seasons and never consider doing anything that may upset their regular stream of income back at home.

I truly believe these Olympics will determine where the world and our standing in it go from here. What's the best way to motivate to win? Through fear and consequence or through self-driven determination. There are two schools of thought and only one will come out the victor.

As for the people of China, they face the toughest test of all: the test of human spirit. With more than 300, 000 security cameras in place and switched on, it will be tougher than ever to voice any kind of dissent. Today is the first day in the rest of one and a half billion lives and the landscape of history in China will be altered forever. If China dominates in the games and quells every protest without too much international media attention, their product will be ready for export, just like about everything else we buy in America.

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