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One hundred days of peace

In the ancient world, when the olympics began, athletes from all over what the Greeks knew as their world gathered to compete in a completely unique event of international community. In an age where war and trade were the usual contexts for geographical and cultural boundaries to be crossed, it was pretty significant.

By contrast, I’m afraid, this year’s olympics signify to me some very depressing things – and forgive me, because I am really not an excited Londoner – a huge amount of taxpayers’ money gone on an event a lot of people are excluded from because they’re not rich enough. And an event many other less well off countries would have benefited far more from than we will.

However, there is one silver lining that makes me slightly less curmudgeonly about the whole thing – the hundred days of peace movement that has arisen with it.

A hundred-day truce across all participating nations meant the early olympic athletes could travel safely to take part in the games and return home again, hopefully with laurel or olive wreaths of victory.

This year, in solidarity with all those countries and people who do not have peace, a collaboration of London’s Catholic dioceses and organisations are upholding their hope and prayers for peace for hundred days.

It begins tonight with a prayer vigil at St Martins in the Fields on Trafalgar Square. The vigil starts at 11pm and runs all night til an 11am celebration service tomorrow with the Bishop of London, the Archbishop of Westminster and other London church leaders of different denominations.

A fun thing you can do in solidarity with those without peace is upload a little video of you (your friend, your child…) moving across the screen from left to right in any way you like, to this CAFOD site http://passiton.cafod.org.uk/ – and add a message of peace.

It’s a small thing, but a little bit of a movement for peace – a movement to show we’re not apathetic: we want peace. Something so hard to quantify or find a fail-safe method for, but I guess something valuable and intangible about prayer and about messages of solidarity is that the attitude we choose for ourselves is what matters. I wish I could make peace and justice for people, but at least I can show I want it. And we can be showing that lots of people want it.

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POSTED 08.06.12 BY: grace | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “One hundred days of peace”

  1. On June 8th, 2012 at 2:23 pm John said:

    Why think that something is bad because people are excluded from it?

    Who’s excluded anyway? It’ll all be on the telly.

    But that’s not the point. It’ll provide lots of jobs and showcase the UK – the figures have been shown that it’ll all be beneficial to Britain financially.

    So why think that it’s bad because you have to be rich to actually go there in person. If the event were in Paris it would be even more out of reach, but those financial benefits wouldn’t come to the UK.

    Even if a small amount of the benefits ‘trickles down’ to the very poor, isn’t that better than not having the games in the UK?

    I find the idea odd that just because someone cannot be at an event in person means that the event oughtn’t be going on in the first place.

    We can debate how the benefits of the event are shared out, but that’s another issue.

  2. On June 11th, 2012 at 6:27 pm grace said:

    Hi John. Thanks for your comments. I do tend to think exclusivity is a bad thing, unless there’s a reason for it – heart ops for people that need them, for example, or law degrees for people that want them and can do them. Another person may think heart ops and law degrees should be for people who can afford them. Those are our political differences, and we have a right to them.

    However, I didn’t mean going to watch the Olympics should be open to all, so I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear. It’s a leisure thing, I guess, and a market good, in this case a state-funded one. People can choose to go and pay to go.

    What I meant was that to compete in the Olympics, you have to have a natural talent picked up and then invested in by the kind of school that teaches javelin, or competitive swimming. Not your average comp in this country, or your average school in the world either, where most of the children a weighing up quitting school at twelve to tend their parents’ land. Most Olympic athletes these days get national and corporate funding too – not really a priority in in Malawi, or Burma, or Bolivia. So any talented Malawians or Bolivians can forget their hopes – the money’s not on their side.

    The London Olympics were slated at a cost of about £2.4bn, a far cry from the £24bn it’s currently looking at. It was never a realistic figure so it was probably put about to make people accept it even in these tightened times when average British people are struggling with the cost of living. The ‘trickle down effect’ theory has been largely discredited by economists, and frankly we’d have a job making £20bn (just to break even then) off the projected 11million non-UK attendees – they’d have to spend close to £2k each.

    Finally, we’ve hosted it before – that’s what I really can’t believe – and there are so many countries that could have grnuinely benefited instead because they don’t already get tourists, unlike our historic city. If I remember correctly not a single African country has ever hosted the Olympics – 40-something of the world’s 240ish countries, so nearly a fifth of the world, – but no, London, tourist central, is supposedly the winner.

    I hope that helps explain my thoughts. Thanks for your opinions.