Friday, July 27, 2012


I was watching an early round soccer game yesterday morning between Gabon and Switzerland. There was a camera shot of the stands where Gabon clad supporters were walking around the stadium in some sort of poorly choreographed march. The extent of the synchronization made me wonder if the Gabon loyalists had knocked a few back before the contest. At one point the Gabon fans stood in front of seated Switzerland fans and did their cheering. It looked like good natured us/them back and forth.

The players for both teams sure looked as if they were playing their hearts out for their respective countries. Switzerland had been favored so it was something of a victory for Gabon to come away with a 1-1 draw.

At some point during the game I thought of lyrics from the John Lennon song, Imagine. Imagine, there's no countries, it isn't hard to do, nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.

What are countries? They are political and social constructions, no? The United States is separate from Canada and Mexico, how? An arbitrary line was drawn, the same kind of line that separates Portugal from Spain, or Togo from Benin. Why is Chile different from say, Colombia or Venezuela, or for that matter, Lichtenstein.

The Olympics brings together countries which may be in conflict and might even be at war, and this is cited as a good thing. Iran will compete with Israel in the next few weeks and the spirit of sport will trump the political tensions between the countries. I love watching the Olympics and I root for the US to win. I think the Olympics by and large is a wonderful event. Yet it does reinforce the construction that we are different, and we are not.

When I was a kid, I went to a summer camp where, periodically, we had what were called "Watermelon Leagues." The bunch of us campers would be broken up into three teams that would compete in basketball, baseball, and volleyball over a week. The winning team would get a watermelon. This was good fun. Some tensions surfaced. Players on team A would coalesce and see Team B as the enemy, but it was for a short duration and subsequently we got back together again as a group.

The Olympics is a great event. I look forward to the summer games particularly. However, it obstructs any ability to imagine no countries, and perpetuates the incorrect conception that we are different.

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