So I’ll admit right off this is an opinion piece.
I wrote about it four years ago… I just checked! I was reminiscing then, on a article I had published when I was seventeen… in Seventeen magazine about my not-so-favorable opinions of the Olympic games.
You can read about it here! Why Olympics? Through the eyes of a Seventeen Year Old.
The truth is that I am quite mesmerized by the games. Especially the human-interest stories. I love that there is a refugee team this year. There are amazing stories of personal achievement, hard work, sacrifice.
There is enormous pride in our country and a sense of patriotism. And beyond that there is a sense of Global community, of coming together, of celebrating the best of the best when it comes to athletic and physical ability.
I guess what got me going this week was a newscast that had two Olympic stories. They were not related, and not reported as such.
The first story was about the poverty in Rio and the surrounding areas. The reporter talked about the many slums and walked through some of them telling the story of deep recession, poverty and anger. She talked about the huge expense of the games and how it was impacting the Brazilian people. And it was not positive. Many of them live in slums, without much hope for tomorrow. Many residents are bitter that money is spent on the opulent, not on the needs of the people. These games will not benefit the locals, according to the story.
The second story was about the opening of our Canada House in Rio, to house and showcase our Canadian athletes. It was posh, decadent, filled with Molson Canadian fridges (not that I am against beer) . It seemed like a little oasis, a temporary one at that, and perhaps it is true that is what Canadian athletes need to perform on the world stage. But after the first story, it seemed opulent and indulgent.
The contrast was stark to me. I felt like the rich Canadian looking on, but I wanted to look further. I thought, what are Canadians doing as they visit this country, with their contingents of reporters, medical teams for their every need, healthy food and water, and who knows what else?
I would dare to ask, what do the rich countries do, coming into a place of poverty and need? And perhaps there are those who have gone to help. I want to hear those stories.
I WAS grateful for the first story, for awareness. The question is always, what do we do about it? It is always a good question to ask, because there is poverty in my back yard. Do I care? Do I do anything about it? Do I notice?
These are never easy questions, but I believe that we need to have conversations, brain-storming conversations about how to care for the homeless, to bring real solutions to those struggling with mental illness and additions.
I felt anger as I pondered these things this week. I’ve seen the raw side of the underprivileged in our community, and I wish we had better solutions to help; to make a difference.
So much need. I am reminded though, that we can help, one person at a time. We can raise awareness and speak out. Because we are part of a global community, privileged to live in a wonderful country.
As always I’m grateful for the helpers. For those who care, those who see, those who help us to know how to help, thank you!