Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Olympics and Pink Floyd's The Wall

While it may seem a wild juxtaposition going from the 29th Olympics just concluded in Beijing to watching Pink Floyd: The Wall, there is in fact a thread that joins these two beyond their mere position in the timeline.

Chris Collingsworth in the final broadcast with Bob Kostas makes the point about the mingling of people from all over the globe and the feeling of hope it gives him for our future. His lament of why we can't be more like this for more than two weeks is rather pointed and is certainly a perennial question of the ages.

Roger Waters, given his experience in Montreal in '77 having spat on someone gives voice to the very reasons why the perennial question by Collingsworth gets asked. And as I have indicated, there are others who have addressed this.

The real question we all ask is how to break down the walls between us that keep us separate and isolated from one another. At the end of the interview in the Retrospective on the dvd of The Wall Roger quotes a line of a poem he wrote. It goes:

"sucks a man into connections with the spirits hard to touch that join him to his kind."

Roger then goes on to say that he doesn't know what the ending of The Wall should really be. I think he gave it in that line of his poem.

The problem is how do we achieve communion with our fellow human beings? To be honest, I don't think it can be achieved in the midst of an industrial way of life. In the first place, industrialism is born of the machine model of the universe which is a viewpoint utterly devoid of its spiritual dimension. Secondly, industrialism is almost entirely based on the notion of gain in terms of materialism and accumulated wealth. Once these two things take root the real place of human beings is to merely become a means to an end like a cog in a machine and a resource to be exploited.

As Bob Kostas said in his final broadcast of the Olympics in Beijing, it doesn't take a degree in international relations to feel the honest pride of the Chinese people for their country and its history, or the genuine warmth in their hearts as they welcomed the visitors to the games.

Given Roger's own lament about isolation and my previous post about how America is nearly a carbon copy of England in terms its foreign policy and many other attitudes, it becomes quite difficult to get a different perspective. Even my recent visit to Japan did not provide me with much to go on. But this year's Olympic games informed by the artistic direction of Zhang Yimou for the opening and closing ceremonies along with what I know of American Indian culture provides avenues for understanding what needs to happen.

The ultimate truth of the matter is we need each other and that is only basis upon which we are a means to an end. It isn't to get rich or for self-aggrandizement but rather to achieve communion so that we are no longer totally alone in the universe. Unfortunately, this takes a major leap in our own consciousness and in our ability to trust others.

It also means recognizing that there are parts inside of us that are very hard to share empathetically with others if they lack the capacity to put aside their own ego long enough to let someone else in.

True communion is about removing the barriers, the wall, that make us feel separate from each other. It doesn't mean we are all identical or that we are in perfect agreement. It simply means we recognize we all need to have what is in our hearts heard and felt by someone else and their need for us to hear and feel them.

In the final analysis peace is not about not having any conflicts. It is about learning how to resolve them in order to preserve each other's humanity and show each other respect and dignity. This can only happen when we think of each other as well as each people, culture, and nation as being equal in worth and stature to ourselves.