Politicians can learn much from the athletes competing at the Summer Olympics in London

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With 204 nations taking part, nothing seems to bring the world together like the Summer Olympic Games. Nowhere was that symbolism better demonstrated than during the lighting of the Olympic cauldron last Friday night.

During the parade of nations, each country had a child carry out with them a “petal” that was later attached to a branch of the cauldron. When the individual petals were lit, they lifted up and came together to form one. Truly breathtaking.

Many people, especially westerners, give the impression that the Olympic Games are all about medals. How many medals will the US, Russia, China or whatever country you come from bring home this time? Honestly, who cares. Did you know if you took population and GDP into account you’d find the most successful nation four years ago was actually Jamaica?

The Olympics aren’t about medals at all, in spite of of how the media decides to promote it. The games are about fair play, getting along with others (despite the fierce competition) and most importantly; playing to the best of your ability. The Olympic motto is “faster, higher, stronger” not “win, win, win.”

It’s a shame the leaders of our world don’t strive to be on par with our athletes. Imagine politicians playing fair, getting along or even doing their best, what a world it might be. One only needs to look at the United States and the upcoming election to comprehend my point.

obama_romney_4x3.photoblog600-300x225In regards to fair play, the Republicans have been playing dirty. Up to five million voters are being left off the voter rolls in various Republican led states, they have denied passage of job bills to sabotage the economy and are taking in untold millions of dollars in corporate interests thanks to Citizens United. It’s been only about winning since Obama took office.

I’ll admit I don’t watch much American television, but the little I have seen tells me both parties don’t get along when it comes to political ads, in fact you’d think they’re at war. I’ve seen advertisements using an opponent’s statement out of context and Super PAC ads claiming just about anything.

I’ve yet to see an ad that talks about past accomplishments and more importantly I haven’t seen either party try and explain how they intend to improve the country. It’s about burying the other guy, instead of raising yourself up.

It’s also quite clear that neither party leader is living up to their full potential. Mitt Romney has changed his views more than I change my shorts. How can you do your best when you can’t even decide what the best is? Obama on the other hand knows what he believes, but is too chicken to fight for it, gun control is a prime case in point.

I might be using an American example here, but the same can be said for international politics as well, whether it’s elusive peace in the Middle East, the economic situation in Europe or global warming.

Most Olympians sacrifice everything just to participate in the games, often without the prospect of winning something. They do so with the hopes of testing the human spirit and pushing the boundaries of what humans can accomplish. It’s a disgrace that our leaders aren’t willing to do the same.

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