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Citius Altius Fortius....

………Or the Olympic motto of Fast, Higher, Stronger has manifested in some astounding moments of human endurance, precision and perfection. These three words have been the hallmarks of human determination, since 1896 in Athens – the year and the venue of the first modern Olympic Games, - to continuously evolve to something hitherto ‘superior’. To continuously extend the frontiers of excellence.

They were [probably] an ambrosia for the era encompassing the late nineteenth century and the pre-world war years, where inadequacies of life and living were stark [at least in terms of base/average levels]. Ill health and hunger were imminent for a much larger proportion of mankind.

These words seemed even more meaningful and appropriate ambassadors, by the Emil Zatopeks, the Jesse Owens, the Dhyanchands and somewhat later Nadia Elena Comaneci or for that matter Mark Spitz. Yes, three words have played a huge part in having millions and many more people to aspire for and achieve dreams that otherwise looked unimaginable. Worth remembering the words of legendary Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser - “The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself.”

In addition to the superhuman performance, the camaraderie sparked on the field by the Olympic movement, also sometimes bridged the ideological hollowness of violence and mistrust [aka the legendary story of Luz Long and Jesse [actually J. C.] Owens in the 1936 Berlin Games under the nose of Fuehrer Hitler]. Thus further heightening the overall sense of aura promoted by the Olympic motto.

But then, if we look beyond the realm of human endurance and instead think of other manifestations of human instinct, the nice feel good facet of these three words suddenly speak of a different idiom. They are merely a reflection of the more the merrier syndrome in today’s world. The root cause of avaricious depredation and insensible violence. When scientific advancement replaced unaided human excellence, these very words send a shudder of gloom. The moment stronger meant tanks & AK47s and farther meant Inter Continental Missiles, the death knell had begun. This superimposed with the ever increasing of carnal consumption of goods and entertainment has wreaked havoc.

Thanks to innate human insecurity and greed the advancement of science has invariably accelerated the growing entropy [disorderliness] of our ecosystem. Every significant leap in faster and farther has been used to further the human instinct of aggrandizement. In the modern days, the need for territorial supremacy has significantly limited to oil fields in Middle East and minerals in Africa [we will certainly see mineral wars in Africa in the next few decades]. All to fuel consumption as the the multi-national wars to ‘leverage’ consumer sense of vicarious emancipation.

Clearly, the more we advance the more we will consume and the faster we will be hurtling ourselves towards eco-system imbalance – which manifest themselves in the form of global warming, tsumanis, rising sea-levels, HIN1, lifestyle diseases. Is this the winners’ curse? – more populated countries vs smaller families, lengthening lifespan with shortening marriage span; material abundance with highest ever and growing inequities of income; the pervasive knowledge reservoir in form of world wide web vs the equally pervasive viruses, malwares, trojans etc; the miniscule [though thankfully] followers of WWF [World Wildlife Fund] vs the popular pervert in the form of wrestle-mania WWF.

This reminds me of a still circulating old story I read years back in which an Mexican fisherman [ Goan – in the Indianised version] is pulled up by a Wall Street [Dalal Street] investment banker about why is he wasting time lazing away without ambition. Instead he could use a larger and motorized boat. Make more money, and even more money. The fisherman curiously asked – ‘To do what?’ Pat came the reply, ‘To retire to a peaceful life, where he could live by the seaside. Make merry and fish leisurely.’

One more side story - the other day I was reading Paulo Coelho – in his book, his beggars laughed at the benefactors thinking they had no freedom [as they were chained to limiting paradigms], similarly nomads pitied inhabitants of cities because inhabitants get ossified as they cling to belongings.

Interesting upside down perspectives! But are these manifestations of the changing post-modern world realities - with different symbols, imageries? Are we realizing that it is time to jettison modern, masculine, exclusive, arrogant, more the merrier, external entertainment idioms for post-modern, feminine, inclusive, accommodating, inner enrichment led value systems?

August 4, 2010


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