Dino Siotis Lectures At SNHU
Friday, September 24, 2004
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be here today.
I would like to thank Selma Hoff-Naccach, Chris Papoutsy and John Rouman for making this event possible and for giving me the opportunity to speak to you about the Olympic Spirit in the era of Globalization.
Τhe Olympic Games last month returned to their Greek roots uniting sportsmen and sportswomen from the four corners of the world. The Olympic Games returned to their ancient birthplace and the city of their revival. Athletes from 202 nations engaged in noble competition. When Athens was chosen in September 1997 to host the Games, winning over Rome in the final vote, it was more than a satisfying win over its competitors. For Greeks, both at home and abroad, the prospect of the Games returning to the place where they were born nearly three thousand years ago and to the city that saw their revival in modern times in 1896 was both an honorable salute and an exciting challenge. Greeks are happy and satisfied because they hosted unique Games on a human scale, they linked the modern with the ancient, and brought the Olympic movement back to its roots, while avoiding the excessive commercialism of recent Olympics.
This is not the Athens of “Zorba the Greek”, nor is it the red-light district of Piraeus so lovingly filmed in “Never on Sunday.” There’s no going back to the fifties and sixties. Those were the days of happy Greeks full of optimism about their future. Now are the days of cool Greeks who know how to surprise the world, and maybe themselves, and who have shown they can undertake a worldwide multicultural and sporting event, and do it with class. Visitors to Athens met self-disciplined Greeks, whose hospitality was genuinely friendly, displaying a generous spirit, helping their guests to thoroughly enjoy the Games and the city. Their extraordinary knowledge of foreign languages made them especially helpful to foreign visitorsafter all they have a word for hosting foreigners: philoxeniaand they showed they are ready to turn the page.
For some reason, The New York Times was hell-bent on demeaning Athens for its security system, even though Athens had the largest, most comprehensive and best-funded security system in Olympic history. And the system worked! Moreover, the magical part was that no one felt invaded by the marvelous security people, who themselves were cool.
Because of the Athens Olympics, a new Greece is emerging: looking forward, and ready to embrace the realities and challenges of the 21st century.
In the Athens 1896 Olympics, athletes competed in 9 sports, which were divided into 43 events. In the Athens of August 2004 the Olympic schedule included 28 sports and 296 events from 202 countries.
The Olympic Games are a very significant example of the important role played by cultural heritage in social and economic development. As a member of the European Union, Greece organized the most contemporary Olympic Games, the first of the 21st century, and had the unique advantage of the authenticity of the Olympic sites and ideals. Imagine that one day you were in ancient Olympia, where the Games were held for more than 1,000 years from 776 BC to 393 AD. Next day, you were sitting in the all-marble Panathenaicon Stadium in downtown Athens, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896, watching archery. The following day at Marathon you followed the original Marathon course, and the day after you watched the world’s best cyclists, with the Parthenon in the background. Now, what could have been more romantic and original than that!
Although a small country of only 11 million people, Greece has recently been through a process of rapid modernization. The only country in southeastern Europe that belongs both to the European Union and NATO, Greece has also become a member of Europe’s most exclusive clubthe euro zonewith a stable economy and major investments in the surrounding region. Not to bore you with too many statistics, I would only point out that with a Gross Domestic Product of $180 billion and a per capita income of $17,000, according to the latest World Bank report, Greece is rapidly transforming itself into a country where, in addition to its famous archaeological heritage and natural beauty, visitors to the Olympics found all the comfort and facilities that travelers hope for.
Athens is already one of the largest metropolitan centers in the Mediterranean. The 2004 Olympic Games highlighted Athens’ role as a regional leader in sports-related infrastructure, information, technology and telecommunications, energy, trade and urban transportation.
All these point to the broader significance for Greece of hosting the 2004 Olympics. More than just a salute to its ancient and special ink to the Olympic tradition, the International Olympic Committee decision in 1997 was a vote of confidence in the new Greece of today, a country with a glorious past but a promising future as well. And the Greeks themselves felt not only the honor of the choice, but also the impetus and the discipline it provided for the further modernization of the country in areas such as construction, transportation, telecommunications, information technology and tourism. Greeks saw the Games as a catalyst for a better capital city and a unique opportunity for the country to show its best face to the world. Athens is an attractive and enjoyable city for spectators and citizens alike.
Having said that, I want to add that when Athens asked to host the 2004 Olympics, it was not simply asking for what the Olympics could do for the city. It was saying that Athens was eager, able and uniquely qualified to do the job; and that it could do it in a fashion that would uphold and fortify the tradition of the Games and of the Olympic spirit and of the Olympic movement. That was the promise, which Athensand Greece as a wholekept.
No one would deny, of course, that the financial obligations involved in the organization and conduct of an Olympic meeting with some 16,000 athletes competing 21,000 journalists reporting, 44,000 volunteers helping and 150,000 spectators attending the Games, required a huge expense.
In the original games, the agony of defeat was real because the loser was embarrassed to go back to his city-state. (The Greek word for contest is agon, from which agony is derived.) Today the agony of defeat is not real because it derives not from embarrassment but from the agony of not acquiring the wealth that comes with the medal. In the ancient Olympics only men attended the games and athletes competed in the nude and bare footed. Today women not only attend the game but they compete and the athletes are half-naked and with high tech Nike shoes. In the ancient Olympics homosexuality was permitted between the athlete and the trainer. Today it is not permitted.
There were also some unique aspects of these Olympics. In ancient Greece, the Olympic Games was a festival of sports and the arts, and these Olympics were a celebration of sports and culture, with many cultural activities. The Cultural Olympiad provided for the restoration of archaeological sites in Athens, linking them into an archaeological park. It included art exhibitions, music and ancient drama productions in famous ancient theaters, such as Delphi, Olympia, Epidaurus and Athens, and many other cultural events.
In an effort to redefine the Olympics and restore some of the forgotten ideals which inspired the games of ancient Greece, we had proposed the revival of an ancient tradition, the Olympic Truce, when people at war laid down their arms and sought peace for the duration of the Games. While this idea might be considered by some to be highly romantic, an international center was established in Greece, supported by IOC and personalities from around the world, to encourage dialogue and confidence between embattled rivals and their cooperation with international agencies. The hope was that, besides the cessation of hostilities during the two weeks of the Games, this truce would be expanded and take permanent hold.
For the 2004 Olympic Games, the Olympic torch traveled from ancient Olympia to all five continents and for the first time in history passed through the continents of Africa and South America. The Olympic Torch comprises the messenger for the Olympic ideal. The torch was inspired and based on one of the most original elements of ancient Greek civilization: the olive tree’s leaf.
I have given you only a brief outline of what we accomplished in 2004. We had carefully studied and observed the holding of previous Olympics to learn positive lessons and avoid potential problems. As a result, the athletes and the world enjoyed unique Olympics on a human scale, combining history, culture and state-of-the-art organization that did set the standard for the years to come. The same applies to the Paralympic Games, which begun last Friday, with the participation of 4,000 athletes with disabilities from around the world.
The Olympic Spirit is a diachronic system of values with roots in ancient Greece. The development of a citizen’s personality enforced with the ideals of humanity, upon which the Olympic Spirit is build, is the answer to the new, hard-driven globalized world. Anthropos, man, human being, is in the central stage of Olympic Spirit. As such it accepts the greatest values the human life can offer with respect and dignity of man. Olympic Spirit is powered by anthropos, therefore it is an anthropocentric philosophy that puts man, human being, above anything else. Let us not forget that Hellenism is also based on anthropocentric ideas and ideals and as a result the Olympic Spirit is part of the wider system of Hellenic values.
The ancient triptych which we have to apply to contemporary standards if we want to be in harmony with the Olympic spirit, is ``Faster, Higher, Stronger.`` Citius, Altius, Fortius. Tαχύτερα, υψηλότερα, ισχυρότερα. This motif enables us to look back almost three millennia in ancient Olympia and be inspired by the athletes, the organizers, the spectators and the gods and demi-gods. I will say that with the exception of “faster’’ which makes references to the information age, to speedy cars and to fast lanes of highways, the other two parts of the triptych, “higher, stronger,’’ make references, but not exclusively, also to the works of the spirit and not just to athletics. The rewards of the Ancient Olympics were status, glory, respect and recognition.
The Olympic festivities attracted not only lovers of sports but authors and poets, too, who came to place their latest intellectual corpus before the public: in ancient Greece, the overall concept of the perfect human being involved a man’s perfect mind in a perfect body. Philosophers gave people the chance to appreciate the beauty of language flourishing along with physical vitality.
This was the Olympic spirit, a spirit that embraced the Pan Hellenic idea of uniting and strengthening the Greeks, engaging them in the process of philosophical and political thinking since all human beings, according to Aristotle, are thinking animals. Also the onlookers and the spectators made the decision the Games to promote peace. In today’s globalized world the spectators and the onlookers are inspired by the messages of soft drinks, cereal foods, Nike shoes, electronics, McDonalds and other multinational corporations logos.
Not all the athletes of today’s Olympic Games are free citizens; they do not have the same religion or common customs and a common tradition. They might be free athletes but some countries are not ruled by democratic regimes. Therefore they are not free citizens. In the far distant future all athletes, belonging to the globalized world, will have more or less common athletic customs, common athletic training, shoes, stadia and trainers and the same sponsors.
In a globalized and constantly changing world swept by perpetual turmoil, in a world, which perhaps suffers from a lack of a system of axioms leading to better understanding of one another, we come face to face with the need to return to our sources and our principles. We are in need to rediscover the measure on which to form a sense of Harmony and try to re-compose it. We need to find our own sense of measure, our own way forward. Different collective identities have to learn how to coexist. In place of cultural uniformity of globalization, the collective memory, conscience and identity will have to engage in attitudes that strengthen the meaning of anthropos versus the meaning of material. It is a constant battle fought in all aspects of daily activities but it is also related to societies concerned with essential existential issues.
History teaches us lessons. By reading history we examine the efforts made by mankind between the Bronze Age and the time of the Greek civilization to achieve a delicate but necessary balance: the happy co-existence, the joyful co-ordination of a healthy body and a healthy mind (Νους υγιής εν σώματι υγιές). That is an ideal of operation that was extended to relationships amongst human beings and their communities, and their city-states.
Competition was the foundation on which the Olympic Spirit laid. Competition is formulated upon discipline. The concept of competition was based on the significance of victory within the context of life. Victory in the games proved that renown could he won by the very best at man's disposal, and that success depends on the proper use of man's capacities. If you want to win you have to have discipline, you must obey in the laws of discipline. In contemporary Olympics, victory means money, recognition, fame and a secure financial future. In the ancient games it meant glory for your city-state and glory for the victor.
Let us look at two of the most spectacular games of a contemporary Olympiad. The 100-meter race and the Marathon. Here we have two opposites, the mind and the body. Not exactly opposites but doing different functions. The 100-meter race is the fast forward concept, the image, the icon, the picture, and the photo finish. It reflects our fast moving 21st century, our era. On the other hand, the Marathon is the word, the logos, the reason, and the collective consciousness of humankind. You win the 100-meter race with your body. You win the marathon with your mind. When Phidipides in 490 BC run from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory of the Greeks over the Persians his mind was set already in Athens, on his duty to be the carrier, the messenger of the good news and on the spectators. Therefore you win the Marathon with your mind. You set your mind 42 kilometers or 30 miles ahead (that’s how far is from Marathon to Athens) and you arrive there by thinking and letting your feet do the job. On the other hand, you win the 100-meter race with your feet. You do not think. You have no time to think. You just move fast. And billions of people are watching your face and every spasm of your body. You are the image. In the Marathon nobody is looking at you because you are one of 200. All you do is think all the time. You have the time to think of how thirsty you are, who is ahead of you, who is behind you, who is next to you. You also have the time to see things around you especially the spectators who come to admire the runners.
For the athlete, what is important is ‘bliss in his own toil and honor’, as Pindar sang in his victory odes, and it was the athlete's city, his mother community, which reaped the celebration, the satisfaction and the glory.
Spectators were rewarded with the sight of strong, harmonious bodies (νους υγιής εν σώματι υγιές again) which confirmed and fuelled their pride in the capacity of humansa model of life in which human endeavor was recognized by a wreath of wild olive, a simple thing which nonetheless bestowed eternity. History tells us that a boy cut the wild olive wreath with a golden knife to be given to the winner. Today we have ribbons and medals and cameras, many cameras, transmitting the images to billions of viewers, from the most desolated village of Southeast Asia to the most obscure community in Patagonia in the coast of Chile.
The establishment of the democratic form of government, which increased the power of the city-states, led men of affairs to realize the importance of athletics and encourage the young citizens to take part in it. The Greeks, in their colonies scattered around the Mediterranean, molded their national consciousness at the regular Pan Hellenic festivals such as the Nemea, the Panathinaia and the Isthmia. But from the very beginning, from the dawn of history, as we know it, the heart of the Greeks beat strongly at Olympia. In a way Olympia was the Super Ball of the crème de la crème of the athletics.
The Sacred Altis of Olympia, the "most beautiful place in Greece,’’ invited all to compete in peaceful assembly, an essential condition for the cultivation of competition, the athletic ideal. The search for harmony is the key that opens the gate that leads to competition. It is here that all the creatures of the universe find their true position, that our existential fears discover firm ground, that the dreams can blossom and that our abilities of common understanding can become inspirational ambitions to keep us going.
The competitive ideal was one of the principal features of the ancient Greeks. Rooted deep in the Greek race, that ideal sprang from the need to survive in a barren place, which was geographically fragmented into a variety of different forms; in the end, it developed into a mode of existence.
Constant trials of ability and perseverance in the struggle for improvement, for attainment of the best, were woven into the character of the Greeks. These features existed throughout the lives of the Greeks; they were bound up with religion, shaped the myths, and were expressed in the ideals of the race. The intensely competitive inclination of the Greek race manifested itself in all the forms which life took. It was incorporated into the military action of the race, laid at the foundations of education, brought about the exercising of the body, imbued superiority into the mind and was inherent in Philosophy. Greek philosophy was unique in taking the individual as its primary value. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle made athletics a central issue of their philosophy. To be a good citizen, they said, it takes training and participation.
The Homeric urging to be best and superior to the others was a heritage passed on by the old to the young, and it was transformed into an ideal, which even the gods strove to attain. The entire Greek world struggled to achieve 'gymnastics', and all the Greeks developed their physical and mental power to the maximum, bringing all their 'virtue' into play.
Throughout Greek mythology, which reflects the ideals of the men who created it, we are shown the competitive inclinations of the gods and heroes. The twelve gods of Olympus ranged themselves against the Titans and the Giants and were victorious. The Battle of the Giants was a model for every Greek, a symbol of the sense of measure and harmony over barbarity. For that reason, it often featured in the decoration of Greek temples.
Not only athletes but also gods competed. The Greek gods did not fight only against others: they also competed amongst themselves for the right to be patrons and protectors of cities. Poseidon alone is credited with a large number of such contests; with Zeus for Aegina, with Hera for Argos, with Apollo for Delphi, with Athena for Athens, with Dionysus for Naxos and with Helios for Corinth. Apollo competed with Hercules for the sanctuary of Delphi. The demi-gods and heroes, like the gods, strove to achieve featsκατορθώματα. In their desire to be first, they struggled to outdo each other in performing manly deeds. Each city attempted to pay honor to its heroes by presenting them as the originators of the good things, which they bestowed upon humankind. Primacy was a main feature of Greek thought and action.
Primacy still is the central feature in today’s world. We have increasingly a global economy and we live more and more in a global society. The global politics is underdeveloped by comparison. If borders cannot protect the innocent, they should not be allowed to protect the guilty. And I am referring to those with power, economic, political, cultural, and military or otherwise, who hide in a globalized sphere of principles situated in the western world, our world. In the globalized economy and culture only the strong and the wealthy can take part. Like NAFTA or any other fee trade zone, they’re those who benefit and those who lose. In one sense, globalization needs no defense; it is simply what’s happening. As a result of new transportation and information technologies, international commerce, travel, communication, and cultural exchange have expanded very rapidly in the last fifty years, virtually in all parts of the world.
As globalization has intensified, the gap between per capita income in rich and poor countries has widened. Although this trend has been around for the past two centuries, it has accelerated in the last twenty years. For the many emerging countries that already have the institutions and income levels to attract private capital and the education levels to prosper in the new information age, the private sector fuels continued economic development. But this is not so for the nations of Africa and many countries in Asia and South America. The best remedy for poverty, inequality, pollution, or lack of democracy is economic growth and the road to economic growth is integration into the global economy.
North America and Europe have benefited from globalization and it is easy to understand why a populist backlash against globalization has taken hold in much of the world, plagued by an endemic poverty. As millions of people in emerging markets have seen their jobs and incomes decimated by global financial shocks, modern information technologies have shown them images of American prosperity and of American officials and business leaders lecturing them about the necessity of painful sacrifice. Inequality and insecurity are a harsh but necessary medicine for the climax of globalization.
Now, where does the Olympic Spirit fit in all that?
Talking about Athens 2004, the Olympic Spirit and the cultural aspect of the Games was a priority. For other cities that hosted the games, like Atlanta, Sidney and Los Angeles, culture was a secondary issue. Athens revived the Spirit of Olympism through the Cultural Olympiad that is an international institution. It seeks to highlight the relationship between sport and culture as a fundamental principle of the Olympic spirit. It embodies key principles such as social cohesion, cultural pluralism, tolerance and respect for human rights. It sends the message of Olympism all over the world. It is a contest of cultural creativity and it is a bridge that brings peace and reconciliation to the peoples of the world. Greece’s ambition is to make the Cultural Olympiad a permanent institution based in ancient Olympia. It will be a custodian of the ideals of peace, fair play, creativity and the universality of man.
Under a different angle, Olympic Spirit is an infrastructure of ecumenical values and merits that have no country, language, religion, tradition, customs or local heroes. It has world heroes and they are the winners of every game, no matter where they come from, if they are men or women, black, white or yellow, young or old. The media has globalized them. They have been iconized by the focus of the cameras, the first page headlines, the glamour of the momentum.
The essence of the Olympic Spirit and of the Olympic games may be captured in hard work, a willingness to sacrifice financial security, and team companionship. Brad Vering is a wrestler from Nebraska and he doesn’t think he could have made it to Athens if he didn’t have the discipline to push back. “I got that from my hometown”, he said and I am quoting from an article in The Christian Science Monitor. “What you see is that people work hard to put food on the table. That work ethic carries on to wrestling”. His days in Howels, Nebraska, started at 6:30 with feeding the horses before school. Sacrifice is on every table in town. Yet there is a part of Vering that wonders what he is doing, living in a tiny dorm room at the United States Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, Co, for weeks at time. Competing on a global wrestling circuit makes it virtually impossible to get a job, yet promises only a stipend. Then he recounts how some 400 people spontaneously showed up at his local high school for a send-off when they heard he was in town for the last time before the Athens Olympics.
Now, let me tell you that Brad Vering has the Olympic Spirit in his soul. He know about hard work, he know about discipline, he knows about forgoing financial security and he has the inspiration from his country men to succeed.
The fact that we live in a global world cannot be disputed. Go to any Starbucks. The coffee comes from Kenya. The bag that the coffee is in was manufactured in Bangladesh with raw material from India. The ink that says Starbucks on the bag comes from Pakistan. The ship that brought the coffee from Kenya is from Russia under a Liberian flag. The crew of the ship is from the Philippines probably with a Greek captain and a Moroccan engineer. An Italian in New York designed the package where the beans are packed. The luxuriously designed package was printed in El Salvador with raw material from China. The coffee machines at Starbucks are from Italy or South Korea. The paper cups are from Mexico with the paper being imported from Canada. The machinery they use to cut the cups is from Sweden or Germany. We already mentioned 19 countries in four continents.
Here is another example. Remember the wreck of the “Prestige”, the tanker that sank on November 19, 2001 in the shores of Spain causing an environmental disaster? The 26-year-old Japanese-built ship was owned by a company registered in Liberia, managed by a Greek firm, registered in the Bahamas, certified by an American organization, chartered by a Swiss-based Russian trading company and carrying oil from Latvia to Singapore.
A typical Canadian yuppie drinks French or California wine in a glass from Bohemia, Check Rrepublic, listens to Mozart on a Japanese audio system manufactured in Taiwan, and uses the Internet to buy Persian textiles and Pakistani rugs from an Israeli dealer in London. It is a globalized economy and a globalized industry and a globalized society that functions as a titanic multinational corporation. Probably thousands of workers, business executives, farmers, shippers, longshoremen, and track drivers and on and on and make a living from that $1.49 you pay for a cup of Starbucks coffee.
The introduction of globalization and new technologies brings cultural blending and artistic creativity. Greece in the last ten years had a tremendous success in many levels. Greece is enjoying the benefits of globalization but not all of Greece, of course and certainly not all the Greeks.
The Athens 2004 Games had a dual historical meaning: not only they returned to their birthplace but they were the first ones to be organized under Euro, the newest monetary symbol of the globalized economy. But that is not how the Greeks revitalized the Olympic Spirit. Not through the Euro and not by spreading the soccer games to Volos, Thessaloniki, Patras and Larissa. They brought back the Olympic Spirit through the Cultural Olympiad. When the idea for the Cultural Olympiad was first presented at the 29th General Conference of UNESCO, in October 1997 in Paris, then Culture minister Evangelos Venizelos was certain that it would be unanimously accepted by all the member countries, as indeed it was.
Greece is a country where our cultural heritage is celebrated every day. In Europe, we devote certain days each year to the commemoration of European heritage. I believe it would be useful to devote one day each year to the celebration of global cultural heritage. A day in which all monuments belonging to the UNESCO world heritage list will be open to the public, sending out the message of the universality of cultural heritage.
Everyone understands that culture is an appropriate field for international cooperation; on this basis new institutions need to be established and made to function, which can demonstrate the wealth of the cultural activity worldwide. This is an enterprise that must not be undertaken in a random manner, but organized around broad basic concepts such as Peace and Social Cohesion. It will not be an easy or simply matter fully to realize these concepts.
Cultural Olympiad is an international and a non-governmental institution; It was an open and sincere invitation to participate in the Cultural Olympiad addressed to all countries, all international and non-governmental organizations, all artists, all intellectuals, and all citizens. Above all, Cultural Olympiad strives to emphasize the universality of civilization at the beginning of the 21st century.
The themes of the Cultural Olympiad contain a variety of modes and models of thought and a feeling on an international scale. Here are the four themes of the Cultural Olympiad:
The first theme is the Culture of Peace of coexistence and reconciliation. The right to peace as an individual and a collective right are at the core of this idea. The revival of the Olympic Truce under the auspices of the United Nations is a vital expression of this approach. Think, just think of how better the world would have been be for the two weeks the games last, with not a single gun shot, not a bomb, not a suicide attack, not a forced exclusion of populations and no new waves of refuges. This can be achieved through Olympic Truce that is an Olympic Spirit’s brain-child.
The second theme is the Culture of Social Cohesion, the removal of cultural and educational inequality, the multicultural approach, and the culture of tolerance, the culture of non-exclusion. Again, think of what a better place our world will be if we make the first steps towards bringing some idea of social coexistence, koinoniki synyparxi, that puts an end on the hate between the Catholics and the Protestants in Ireland, between the Basques and the Spaniards in Spain, between the Pakistanis and the Indians in Kashmir and between the Arabs and the Jews all over the world.
The third theme is the Culture of Information Society. Culture in the electronic age as an opportunity for removing regional inequalities and the obstacle to equal access to acquisition of educational and cultural information. It is very clear how important access to information is. It fights ignorance, it fights poverty and it leads to the widening of human horizons.
The fourth theme is Culture as a meeting place for tradition and innovation on both a national and international level for all forms of art and cultural expression.
Olympic Games, Cultural Olympiad, Olympic Spirit, Olympic Movement, Olympic Truce, Olympic Torch, Olympism they all have the same root at mountain Olympus. That’s where they come from and that’s where they are heading: Higher, stronger and faster as the peak of Mt Olympus and among the twelve ancient Greek gods. Through the Cultural Olympiad the Olympic Spirit enlivens and gives new measurement and meaning to the Olympic Games.
The message of the Olympic Spirit and of Athens 2004 was a message of brotherhood between peoples and fair competition between athletes. The vision Greeks had for the 2004 Olympic Games were, on the one hand, the sporting ideals and the spiritual pursuit, and on the other hand reconciliation and the peace process. This is the message of the Games. And because we live in turbulent and very unstable times and the international situation is very gloomy we need now more than ever to transform this message into reality.
Of course let us not have illusions. Economic integration among nations, although beneficial in general, creates winners and losers. And even many winners fear that the next wave of technological change energized by footloose capital will make them losers. At the open door of the new millennium the leaders of the Western world, the gate keepers of globalization, must lead the world in creating institutions and policies to sustain a more equitable process of globalization. A globalization built on the marvels of the market and modern technologies and infused by the triptych of the Olympic Spirit: Higher, Stronger, Faster for all and not just for the privileged few. This globalization at the same time respects the Olympic valuesthe values of peace, competition and coexistence.
The Olympic Spirit is nothing more or less than the balancing of body and mind and their incorporation, as a permanent entity, into the surrounding world. It is the attempt to make ability equal to desire. It is the message of the truce to the universe with a chance to see that what divides the world is an insignificant nothing, a nada, a zilch, a big tipota, when compared to what unites them: faith in the virtues and pride in the beauty of the human race.
Besides being a diplomat and a public servant I am an author and a poet and now I speak to you as a poet: Globalization needs to be vaccinated by the Olympic spirit. Globalization and Olympism have to co-exist. I am talking about globalization with a human face, in a human scale. The server might be in Vancouver, the software in Estonia, the domain in a tiny island of the coast of New Zealand and the millions of users everywhere in the world, but it will be driven by the soul and not just by the brain. The Olympic Spirit is the antibiotic the globalization needs so that it can stay in good health and orient its activities to the benefit of all. It does sound abstract, and odd but I am sure you all know what I mean. The time has come for that message to go across the universe and to be the incentive for a universal effort aimed at the creation, through the Olympic spirit, of a better and just world for all.
(Posted October 2004)
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