Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beijing is SMOGGY

I love watching the Olympics in real time, even if they are on in the middle of the night, and being a teacher means that unless the Olympics are in the Southern Hemisphere (stinkin' Sydney), I can stay up really late to watch them. I'll even watch stuff like beach volleyball just to be able to watch swimming, track, and gymnastics. There is something about world class competition that gets me all choked up. Or maybe it is the sight of all the smog in Beijing. How do people live there if you have asthsma or allergies? It must be horrible! Even Los Angeles looks crystal clear and idyllic in comparison! My favorite Olympic events are of course, gymnastics and swimming, but sometimes you can see the most random events, that you had no idea were even recognized sports, much less actual Olympic events. One year I watched synchronized trampoline jumping. Seriously. I missed the opening ceremony, but thanks to the magic of digital cable, I can watch it tomorrow. I hear it was awesome.

On the other hand, this Olympics has me somewhat torn. On the one hand, Beijing did get the final nod 7 or 8 years ago in return for agreeing to do better with the human rights thing, and that has not happened. In fact, it's gotten worse. But it is hard, without actually being there, to know how much of what is reported regarding human rights violations in China is true and how much of it is media bias. I know that Christians in China are still denied their right not only to worship but are also imprisoned for even meeting together. But I also know that this is not really reported in the US, for whatever reason. What is reported is the issues with Tibet (which has little to nothing to do with religion in all reality) and the almost 60 year-long tension with Taiwan, but I am not sure how much of that reporting is due to the political beliefs of the US and how much of it is accurate reporting. We as a political nation can feel China breathing down the back of our necks, as it were, as they become larger and more productive than we are and I don't know how much of the information we get in the news is due to that particular issue. I guess, as with all news stories, you take all information with a grain of salt and a LOT of common sense and rational thought.

Which makes my job all the more important. If the kids who will soon be voting don't know how to logically process information and see past the bias that WILL be present in the news that they see, then we are doomed. Teaching them how to do that, even just getting them to realize and acknowledge that there is a bias, is a giant step forward, in my opinion. It is not easy to consciously set aside my own biases and beliefs to present all sides of a particular issue, but it is my goal to do that...all the time with every issue. It is my goal to make them think about the fact that there is ALWAYS another side to the story, and that whether or not you agree with it, it is your responsibility to examine that side before making a decision.

Which brings me back to China. I don't know what to believe. On the one hand, they are a progressive, vibrant nation and on the other hand, they are a domineering, oppressive oligarchical dictatorship. On the one hand, they are struggling with the same issues that have plagued every growing industrialized nation in the history of time, including our own, and on the other hand they are irresponsibly spewing industrial waste into the air and water and their economy is on a bubble that will soon burst and potentially cause a major world-wide depression. It totally depends on your perspective and your source of information. I guess for now, I'll just watch the Olympics and worry about global issues later...=)

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