Records have been broken in swimming pools and on sporting fields – in political arenas and on convention hall floors. But while medals of glory adorn the athletes in Rio, ones of shame may well be hung around the necks of many politicians.
I watched the US archery team follow up their gold medal loss by bowing in awe and deference to their South Korean opponents. It wasn’t that they had worked less at winning or that they cared less about brining home the gold. They did it because it was the right thing to do. And we love and respect them for it.
Why is it then that we lower the bar when it comes to the people running our governments, our futures and our lives?
We expect our athletes to respond to defeat with hard work, fair play and respect for their opponents, while we accept that the players in the political arena respond with lies, fear-mongering and demagoguery.
We roll our eyes and swiftly disqualify doping practices among athletes, while accepting the fact that we now live in what has been termed “the world of post truth politics”.
It has indeed been a summer of contrasting events and emotions. The United States with all its potential stands at the precipice and the triumphs in Rio stand in stark contrast to the tragedies in Nice, Gaziantep and Aleppo.
At times the conflicts can seem insurmountable, the contrasts impossible to hold in our minds.
Perhaps a good place to begin – again and again and again – is with the surge of emotion we feel when watching nations march proudly, individually, yet together and in respect of one another and remember that the Olympic arena was located not far from the cradle of democracy.
It’s been a busy summer at Books & Company and we are keeping up the pace with lots of new titles for you to enjoy, an exciting schedule of events and talks as well as a surprising addition and extension of our offerings. Stay tuned for more on all of this shortly……