Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Sordid Unpoetic Realities of Life

The evening news last night disturbed me.  It normally does, but last night it disturbed me more than usual.  All the network “anchors” are in Rio to report on the summer Olympics.  They shared scenes of the famous Coco Cabana beach, the skyline of Rio glistening in the sun, the luxury hotels, the sun setting over the contaminated waters, the statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city, the newly built facilities to house the Olympiads and the stadiums where the games will be played.  What a feat it has been for Brazil to bring all of this together for the “eyes of the world” to see.  

But there is more to see in Rio than just the Olympic wonders.  One reporter decided to show us the whole tapestry of this city; giving us a tour of one of the many bordellos where people live by the tens of thousands in abject poverty and despicable dwellings.  The reporter was escorted by heavily armed security because it is not safe to roam in these areas alone. Such bordellos exist all over this world in which we live, including our own inner cities.  

Here we have the sordid unpoetic reality of life on this planet and I do not mean the bordello alone—I mean the whole tapestry of the city of Rio, with its new stadiums and it’s bordellos, the tapestry of lavishness and entertainment and the dispossessed people of the bordellos. Millions of dollars and herculean effort have gone into the preparation for the summer Olympics.  Is entertainment and sports more important to us than people?  Alas, we know this to be true.  What if millions of dollars and herculean effort were given to changing the bordellos?

We have not progressed much since the gladiator games of the coliseum in ancient Rome.  We don’t seek the death of our opponents anymore, but we do seek the gold, silver and bronze with a frenzy, and have little concern for the people living in the bordellos. 

Shalom:  The Dream of God
Our meager contributions to poverty around the world will never eliminate the bordellos.  Something more is needed. Individuals did not create the grand Olympic playground.  The government of Brazil spent the millions of dollars and made those herculean efforts, with help from other governments around the world.  We must first see the sordid unpoetic realities of our world and then, together, muster up the same kind of concerted effort as was made for the Olympics. Unfortunately, individuals and governments are more interested in playing games!  Lincoln said, ”The legitimate object of government is to do for people what needs to be done.…”  “Government,” he said, “should do what people cannot do by individual effort.”  

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