Monday, August 13, 2012


I had thought to have shed all vestiges of patriotism many years ago, so I was surprised to find my heart swelling with national pride for my old country as I watched last night's closing ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics.  Mitt Romney's obnoxious pre-games comments about security notwithstanding (could not resist that dig!) I thought the Brits did a great job from beginning to end.  The venues--at least from what I could observe on the television screen--were attractive and practicable for each sport; the atmosphere peaceful and joyous; the sportsmanship beyond reproach.  Their third place overall medal count was also astonishing, given the relatively tiny size of those islands and their population, and a source of well-earned acclamation.

The closing event was a brilliant showcase for British creative talent.  The music was rich and diversely exciting, starting with the heart-rending video replay of John Lennon's own rendition of his great song, "Imagine"--the theme for the entire production.  The production design, the costumes, the high-tech spectaculars ranged from jaw-dropping to magical, featuring the best of British ingenuity and creativity.  But--as the "Imagine" theme of the evening suggested--it was emotional for a greater reason than a sense of pride in the old GB.  It was the spectacle of human unity of purpose and common celebration of achievement that made the Olympics, once again--but particularly, for me, this time--a pleasure to participate in, even if only through the electronic media.  We are so much at odds with each other, as a species, and generally so un(human)kind (did e.e. cummings coin that construction?) that to see us all acting, well, human, was a thrill.

So, congratulations!  A great show, Britain!  You are not the fusty, restrictively polite and socially constrained old motherland I knew in the post-war years of my childhood and adolescence.  Something of the can-do spirit that saw us through World War II still thrives in the bosom of Britannia, transformed by the stunning technological changes of the past half century.  I'm glad that I still keep an updated British passport in my desk drawer, handy in case my adopted country decides to send me packing for my shamefully socialist views.  If only you could emulate the weather of my home base in Southern California!  But then, given the alarming pace of climate change, it might not be too long before you do...

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