What NASA Taught me About the Olympics

I’m on vacation this week, and it’s been glorious!

I’m not watching the olympics this year.  Actually, it’s been several years since I last watched either the summer or the winter olympics.  I’ve just felt there is something wrong with them.  I wasn’t sure what until this year.

It started when I bought the awesome series off the iTunes store called “When We Left Earth.”  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  It chronicals NASA starting with the Mercury program to the current day.  While I watched this, there is something that repeatedly jumped out at me:  the difference between calling the achievements of the program ‘American’ achievments or ‘Humanity’s’ achievements.  I realized that don’t really view the moon landings, for example, as the fomer of those, but the latter.  When I think about those events, they don’t make me proud to be an American.  They make me proud to be a human.

There are those that go the other way.  At the time, NASA was a source for national pride, and that continues to this day for many.  We were better than those Commies, and we showed them.  I understand that’s important, but we would be better off without it.

From the perspective of space, you can’t see the borders of nations.  There is only one earth, and everything in it is connected to everything else by location.  All our quibles are meaningless from that perspective.  Carl Sagan said it much better than I ever could.  And so I get tired about hearing about all of it.  I get tired about hearing what comes down to idiotic squabbles like the Russian-Georgia fiasco, or our own country’s fiasco in Iraq.  Or China’s censorship and human rights violations.

I always thought the olympics were meant to be a place where we could set aside our differences and participate in sporting competition.  But when I hear the coverage, it continues to be portrayed as just another place for nations to duke it out.  “Hey, look!  China has the most Gold medals.”  “We Americans lead the medal count, HA!”

You know what I want to see?  I want to see an event that can bring everyone together, but in a way that doesn’t reflect nationalities.  We need a worldwide event dedicated to celebrating the abilities of humanity itself, not the ‘products’ of it’s nations.

And that’s why I don’t really care about the Olympics.  As long as it continues to be some way for a nation to exert it’s superiority over another nation, my reaction continues to be: meh.