“Let’s get to the root cause, and fix it.”
This is both the message and plea we are hearing, whether in talking about the drug and corruption issues splitting the Olympic movement, or in dealing with the civil disorder roiling the nation (and world) in this year of Our Lord 2017. Again today, another terror attack in London outside Parliament killed four and injured 40 more.
While issues like performance-enhancing drugs and the corruption of officials overseeing sport are vitally important within their own particular sphere, they pale in comparison to the wider unrest that is unsettling the world at large.
But what, exactly, is the root cause, much less the fix? Is it ending the 1500 year-old religious division in the Middle East, or the millenium-old rift between the Middle East and the West? Is it righting a 400 year-old slavery-seeded mind set that simultaneously declared freedom and equality while enslaving millions in America? Or should we direct our attention at the granular level, at the particular perpetrators like the man in London who mowed down pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge today then rushed out and stabbed a police officer who was protecting Parliament?
It’s amazing really. The Internet can be such a powerfully positive tool while at the same time it can serve the cause of a nihilist’s jihad. In the tiny sliver of the world known as running we see more more young high school students performing better than ever, because, in part, they know what others like them are doing in training and racing everywhere else. And buoyed with that knowledge their belief in themselves skyrockets.
And yet there are other young men who surf more sinister sites who are also emboldened by what they read, but who are turned against their fellow man when armed with their own new supporting beliefs.
Societies of men engineered these divides. Or were the terrorist in cities around the world born that way? It’s either muddy gene pools or a societies-wide virus. Which are we more willing to bet that it is?
Can anyone even remember the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre now? That was so many, many months ago, an eternity in the mass shooting, terror attack universe we’ve entered, it’s like a presidential tweet, replaced so fast by another, that none in itself has any staying power, or greater import than through the current news cycle.
What has taken in some cases thousands of years to develop, grows deep roots and bitter memories on both sides of the racial/cultural divide. So it may well take some equal thousands more just prepare this world for the potentiality of a successful transplant of expectations before any real union can be achieved. And the odds here suggest we aren’t much above even-money to last that long.
This problem is not amenable to tough talk much less easy answers. No political policy or presidential election will turn the hearts of men. This is the ages-old problem of jealous, possessive primates with too small a frontal lobe, too large an adrenal gland, too much faith in oppositional beliefs, and too many weapons at their disposal to redress their closely held convictions.
As long as those opponents existed in relative isolation from one another with enough food and shelter to go around, the differences remained relatively inconsequential. But once too many disparate tribes began to overlap and inhabit too small a space where goods and services became less available, the differences began to manifest in increasingly hostile acts.
And even after populations might inter-marry enough to blend previous divisions, what is the likelihood that some other perceived difference will be identified to discriminate against and retribalize the sundry populations?
In athletics the first rule of thumb is to have realistic expectations from which to develop a working program. It is evident we have yet to make that determination in trying to learn from our own past as we continue to relive, like a horrific Groundhog’s Day, the inhumanities of fellow travelers, even as we become increasingly inured to the psychic damage that they produce.