It’s easy to critique the latest version of the Olympics along the lines of our favorite sports but we can’t escape the fact that there were some incredible stories of talent, courage and dedication.
But, the lessons that I took from the 2012 London Olympics involved something more than just sports.
The casual observer might not know that many of the venues used in the London Games will be dismantled after the Olympics are officially over. This is the first country I can recall that accepted the reality that building huge permanent structures to facilitate a two-week event might not be the most productive idea.
We can look at pictures of past Olympic sites, particularly Athens, and see what happens once the excitement of the events is over and the care and maintenance of the sites are left in disorder.
What struck me about the organization of the London Olympics was the attempt to showcase the United Kingdom through a variety of temporary and semi-permanent sites that were built in various parts of London. Some of the views, from the vantage point of a television fan, were striking and beautiful.
The example we might take from this building concept is that the London organizers were willing to accept the reality of the potential economic disaster that might accompany the construction of permanent facilities, and turned it into a positive.
The other aspect of the Games that was instructive was the sheer impressiveness of the volunteer effort. The Opening Ceremonies were not spectacular for their mind-boggling technological special effects, but intriguing because of the interaction of the mass of humanity in the agricultural, industrial and modern-day ages portrayed in the music and props at the stadium.
Imagine how much can be done when people commit themselves to making something as excellent as possible, and concern themselves more with the product at the end and less with the praise along the way.
These lessons reverberate all the way to Craig, Colorado, where we are embarking on an adventure in our community where a committed collection of community members are taking their time to help support local schools and help improve the educational experience of our children.
Reality can teach us to make wise decisions going forward. And while reality sometimes can be difficult to accept, doing so is the only way to make something better, if that is our main concern.
The act of volunteerism is still one of the most important and powerful forces for change in any country, community or neighborhood. Never underestimate the influence that you can have when you selflessly do something to help someone.
As we begin to look at the realities in our local schools this fall, I hope it will inform our decision-making and that we will be accepting of the best efforts of those who want to help us improve.
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