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Are The Olympics Our New Bread & Circuses?

In the old days, it was gladiators and lions. Now it’s Olympians.

For world governments, bread and circuses were the ultimate way to keep the masses in line. Keep the bellies full and the brains occupied, and no one would go around asking uncomfortable questions about what happened to the national wealth or why the country was at war with its neighbors. Tax issues, elections, economy… the food stamps and social handouts are running full swing, so who cares about government when the Olympics are on?

The numbers are in, and it seems some 900 million people watched the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games. In Britain, a whopping 88 percent of the population watched a portion of the Games daily. Around the world, coverage was streamed live sixteen hours a day, with nightly special prime-time presentations in every language imaginable.

In Syria, rebel factions are killing each other in the streets. Europe’s economy is collapsing, while hyperinflation threatens multiple South American nations. Asia and Africa struggle with totalitarian regimes and a rising bubble population of young unemployed. Here, drought threatens most of the nation and the economy is crap.

But who cares, the Games are on!

All across the United States, individual athletes are held up as national heroes or national sweethearts. They have fan clubs, large followings online, and their every interview is major news. It trumps election coverage, Federal Reserve announcements, and even the regular celebrity news cycle of nonsense. Until the day it ended, everything was all Olympics all the time in the media.

Now, I realize it’s supposed to be patriotic and a moment for the nation to come together and celebrate the things that make us great as a country. Yet is what makes us great as a nation the fact that our team can swim faster than everyone else? Is it that our athletes play a better game of beach volleyball or do a better job as gymnasts? Is that what makes America the greatest nation on earth?

Or is all of this hoopla just another excuse, another distraction? Was it all a giant dog-and-pony show to pull us out of the real problems right in front of us and get us wrapped up in the minor details of a sporting event happening thousands of miles away? It was certainly convenient for the “news cycle” to be able to mask political chicanery with coverage of Olympians chatting about what a nice time they were having over in London.

What does it honestly matter who won any of these games? The major news networks kept a running medal count to see which countries went home with the most medals. The U.S., China, and Russia led the pack … but what does the medal count say about any of these nations? Is it a real measure of a system of governance that works to take home more polished metal discs than anyone else?

You’d think when you heard the nightly news. You would have been wrapped up in the minor dramas of each event and pulled into the personal lives of the showcase athletes. And it would have made everything else seem less interesting for a time, even your own problems.

But just because the TV shows a chance to lose yourself in the exploits of others for a time doesn’t mean our nation’s problems have gone away. They’re all right there waiting… waiting for someone with their brain on to pay some attention to what’s happening.

None of this is to diminish the amazing physical performances of the athletes who took medals on the world stage. They’re the fastest, strongest, and most flexible human beings on the planet. Sadly, they were used as a way to distract the entire world with a giant circus, pulling everyone away from reality for a few more days.

©2012 Off the Grid News

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