Why I will carry the Olympic torch

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I am in training for the Olympics – not for any of the breathtaking feats that world-class athletes will perform this August in Beijing. As a sedentary 55-year-old, I am training to run a block or two without stumbling if someone tries to knock me down and to hang onto a torch-like object if people try to wrest it away from me.

The special event I am preparing myself for is the Olympic torch relay Wednesday in San Francisco, the only site in North America where the Olympic torch will pass on its world journey to promote peace and understanding through excellence and friendly competition.

Many will scoff at this Olympic ideal and I understand why. As a longtime advocate of social justice, I’m familiar with the long list of failings attributed to the People’s Republic of China from the days of its founding in 1949, including the simmering tensions in Tibet – especially because I just spent five months in Shanghai as a Fulbright scholar conducting research on the mass exodus that took place at the time of the Communist revolution.

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