Friday, February 10, 2006

Citius, Altius, Fortius

The Games of the 2006 Winter Olympiad have begun in Turin, Italy, and the words of the Olympic motto have struck a chord in my mind. It's three simple words.

Citius, Altius, Fortius.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

The ancient Greeks fostered the Olympic tradition as part religious rite and part political truce. No wars were allowed between the city-states, and no one on their way to the Games was permitted to be robbed or molested in any way. King Philip of Macedon humbly paid a fine because one of his soldiers robbed a spectator.

It has often been suggested that the true game of kings - war - should be set aside, as advances in technology have made competitive homicide expensive and even suicidal. As an alternative, events such as the Olympics have been put forward, to foster nondestructive competition as a means of settling disputes.

I hold no hope for such an alternative. We are not yet too removed from our animal nature to turn our backs on war. So all that is left is a dream, and those three words that epitomize the aspirations of human beings - the urge to strive, to do, and to become.


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