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The Miles Franklin Blog is renowned for the COMRADERIE of its writers, readers, and contributors.  It has rejuvenated my career, unquestionably making a difference in countless lives.  The content is transmitted over the web, enabling its message to spread round the world.  And for that, we should ALL be proud of what is being accomplished.

That said, the topics involved are not upbeat, so at times it can be depressing.  That is why David Schectman and I try to mix up the monotony of GLOBAL ECONOMIC COLLAPSE and INEVITABLE HYPERINFLATION with positive stories of life experience, inspiration, and hope.   And for those that don’t believe me, look it up; this is my fifth “positive RANT” of July alone, following “THE GREATER GOOD”, “JOHN SCHMIDT”, “SLEEP OF THE JUST,” and “WIDE WORLD OF MANKIND.”

In the latter piece, I wrote of the inspiration generated by observing superhuman mental and physical feats – although watching John Schmidt play championship level pool would certainly fit that description as well.  I am always hoping to find new demonstrations of human strength to empower myself, several of which came across my path at last month’s Freedom Fest.  Aside from watching John play pool, and watching Leslie Manookian’s Greater Good documentary, my wife and I watched Cirque de Soleil, perhaps the most magical entertainment creation of the past century.

And then, of course, there’s the Olympic Games, which billions are watching from the four corners of the globe.  I can’t say I’m thrilled about London being awarded the right to generate such exorbitant profits, after its government and banks spent the past decade – or heck, centuries – raping and pillaging the world’s population, and resources.  That said, when it comes to the purity of the games themselves, it matter not where they are played.

I have always despised the Games’ commercialization, starting with sending professional athletes like the U.S. Basketball “Dream Team” to compete with amateurs.  I realize it has always been a “chicken and egg” situation, as once one nation sends professionals, the others feel compelled to do so as well.  However, the true spirit of the games is embodied by talent, work ethic, and the drive to excel – with no hidden political or economic agendas.  Fortunately, most Olympic sports do not offer rewarding financial careers afterwards, so that spirit still remains in many events.

This is why I so thoroughly enjoy less “commercial” sports, like volleyball, field hockey, and wrestling – and shun “cash cows” like basketball and tennis (although I’ll NEVER miss a good golf match).  And already – in just the first two days – I have found myself compelled by the spirit of competition, representing “ALL THAT’S GOOD” in mankind.  Yesterday, for example, I watched 16-year old American Ariel Hsing nearly beat the 24-year old, second seeded table tennis player in the Olympics, Chinese champion Li Xiaoxia, losing by the very tight score of 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9…

USA’s Hsing just misses on big upset

Afterwards, I watched the usual drama that is the all-around gymnastics competition, featuring skill sets akin to the best of Cirque de Soleil’s top performers.  The strength, hand/eye co-ordination, and balance of seemingly impossible tasks like the Pommel Horse, uneven bars, and rings are a sight to behold, leaving me in awe of how many years of training it takes to reach such proficiency.  Throw in the fact that most Olympic athletes are self-financed – with little potential gain beyond a gold medal – and you can see why the Olympic games never fail to maintain their allure.

My wife erroneously accused me of being “anti-American” when I noted that I would have trouble rooting for a basketball team consisting of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and other top professionals against overmatched foes from Serbia, Lithuania, and Tunisia.  But that is NOT my true feeling – aside from basketball, of course.  My issue has nothing to do with the athletes – and frankly, I have no issue with LeBron James accepting an invitation to compete.  My issue is with governments that seek to replace the spirit of competition with political and economic agendas – and oftentimes, egos (would it surprise you that the UK has more athletes participating than ANY other country, including the U.S. and China?)…

Olympic athletes: the 2012 Games full list visualized

In the end, the “balance of power” of the pros and cons of the Olympics weighs towards “ALL THAT’S GOOD” in mankind.  Sometimes life imitates art – as in Sylvester Stallone’s famous speech to the Russian Premier in Rocky IV

…but sometimes, life simply IS art.


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