I’ve been thinking a lot about activism lately. I am a university student. University students talk about social issues a lot. I am also the president of a club that cares a lot about social issues. I volunteer in an interfaith group. My life is surrounded by social justice and activism. I have even been a part of a couple counter-protests. But lately there has been a lot to think about where activism is concerned. There have been the recent up rises in Ukraine and Venezuela, which have followed many other up rises over the last few years. But these ones happened during the Olympics. The reason that I have been thinking about this now is because I am surrounded by different people who are of differing opinions.
Among my club, a number of us have chosen to boycott the Olympics this year because of the issues in Russia. We care about the LGBTA community and we are not going to support Russia by watching the games. Of course, it helps that most of us really don’t care to begin with. Unfortunately, I do care. I used to speed skate. I even skated with a few members of the Canadian speed skating team. One of my old coaches was their supporting his daughter. But I couldn’t bring myself to support Russia by watching the races. Because when you get down to it, the Olympics is nothing but politics. It doesn’t help that I’m an animal lover.
However, outside of my club I was hearing a different story. forget the politics, support the athletes. I wish it was just that simple. But isn’t supporting the athletes political? Isn’t cheering for my country political? It’s nationalism plain and simple. I would love it if the sports were separated from the politics, but that’s impossible. How can I justify watching the Olympics to myself? I would love to sit down and watch the people that I trained with during there races. For them, it’s not political. It’s away to gain status. It’s a way to make money with their sport. Because, for most athletes, getting sponsored is the only way to get paid for their sport. But it’s also a status symbol for Russia.It’s a way for them to say “we are still an important player on the world stage.”
In the end, I haven’t done anything. I spent my time not watching the Olympics editing my book. I played video games and kept up with the social justice issues happening elsewhere. I wish that I could be more active. I wish that I could help the Russians fight for equality. But, for that, I wouldn’t know where to begin.