Saturday, August 16, 2008

All That is Gold Does Not Glitter: Relevant Global News Flash

News from around the globe:
  • The Olympics in general has never been my major media "thing," and especially now, as parent, staying up until 2 a.m. to watch is just NOT going to happen. I'm writing at that hour after all! However, I am not immune, and I do confess to having a few slack jaw moments, both in awe and disgust, throughout this current Olympic barrage. Not surprisingly, the politics surrounding the event are what captures my interest. Overall, the Chinese drive to win at all costs in all aspects, from the hosting factor, where image is EVERYTHING, to the actual calculation to target specific events to increase their total overall medal haul, specifically gold, has elicited more than a few grumbles from me. Consider the story of Du Li, who had the extremely inauspicious honor of losing the Chinese's first opportunity for a gold medal. The pressure upon all the athletes, but especially the Chinese, is pretty unfathomable, and this particular athlete felt her failure to deliver particularly keenly. A fair number of her countrymen also let her know of their disappointment, and rather brutally. I wanted to fling myself off a bridge, reading the comments made! It's a testimony to her mental toughness, that she came back a few days later to win a gold in another event. I admire the competitive spirit, and as an American, I know the danger of casting this particular stone, but is winning really everything? It seems this current Olympic cycle has a lot of fodder for a family, community and national discussion on an issue that goes to the heart of who we aspire to be.
  • Speaking of gold, our demand for it has some costs that many would rather not think about. Thousands of children work in bush mines in West Africa, many as young as 4 years old. The process involves pouring mercury into their bare hands, doing untold damage. The precious metal has always had a high price in the world's cultures, and it indeed also has incurred a high human cost as well. As has been done in the diamond market, more reporting needs to be done to bring accountability to this shadowy marketplace.
  • Help doesn't always have to entirely come from outside. With a little well placed help, and with people native to the culture, who possess some amazing moxy, communities can improve themselves from within. A mother and a daughter have pioneered an innovative approach that is netting real results in Rabuor, Kenya, and is now spreading outwards to other communities. This community, with some well placed assistance, has taught itself how to fish in the waters of the global economy, and not become victims of it.

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