Nathan (vovat) wrote,

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Another Sort of War

It's Olympic time again! I don't really care, but it did make me think of a passage from Ruth Plumly Thompson's Speedy in Oz, in which the title character is negotiating with King Radj of Roaraway Island. His nation has been at war with the neighboring Norroway Island for centuries.

"You could build ships, couldn't you, and go exploring?" suggested Speedy, "or you and the men of Norroway could have athletic contests and things like that."

"And what are athletic contests?" asked Radj, leaning thoughtfully on his lance.

"Oh, tests to prove who can shoot their arrows farthest--or jump the highest or run the fastest, or wrestle the most cleverly," explained Speedy.

"Well, wouldn't that just be another sort of war?" Radj wrinkled his brows in evident puzzlement. "Suppose the Nadjians won these contests you speak of, shot their arrows farthest, proved that their men could outdistance mine, why that would make me so red hot, roaring mad, I'd declare war on them at once, and if my men won, Nadj would want to fight me."

"I guess you do not care much about good sportsmanship," sighed the Wizard's ambassador, feeling he was getting nowhere by appealing to the King's better nature.

In the discussion on this book, John Bell points out that this is "a sentiment apropos of this Olympic period." Nowadays, I get the impression that the Olympics aren't really of all that much concern to the United States. Sure, a lot of Americans apparently still watch the games, but nobody seems to get as worked up about them as they do about their local football or basketball teams. But I get the impression that people in other countries still care. Otherwise, why would the Chinese bother cheating? It seems like it would be a positive thing to see people from all over the world trying to outdo each other in games rather than via bombs or bankruptcy, but the fact is that these other sorts of competition are still going on. Didn't the war between Russia and Georgia begin the same day as the opening ceremonies? While it's certainly not exactly the same, it reminds me of the story of the Christmas truce during World War I, during which there were allegedly football games between the two sides. Of course, after that, they went right back to shooting at each other. I find war sickening anyway, but that kind of thing somehow makes it even worse.

Getting back to the Olympics, I'm just not interested in sports in general, regardless of the diversity of the participants. Maybe they'd be more interesting if they went back to the ancient Greek tradition of athletes competing in the nude.
Tags: current events, oz

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