Monday, 13 August 2012

Legacies. What legacies?

In the rush to keep the party going, to harness the positive spirit and national pride we are already witnessing the analysis so popular in the media and sport. Not wanting to be seen sitting in another room, and desperate to be part of the party, pundits and politicians are falling over themselves in a drunken stupor of knee-jerk promises they can neither keep or have thought through. But I can’t help feeling that somehow we may be too keen to stay in an euphoric bubble of self-congratulation and delusion.
There is no doubt that success by a few can provide inspiration for many, and I am first in the queue for celebrating the many and varied achievements of London 2012 and recognising the commitment and sacrifices made by many people to be part of an amazing and heart-warming spectacle.
There is also no doubt that confidence and self-esteem comes through success and achievement. But only through sport for all?
There is no doubt that physical exercise has great physical and mental health benefits. But, in reality, it is not available to all.
There is no doubt that in many instances the competitive spirit is an important aspect of striving for success. But only through sport?
Maybe we could take a broader view of the London 2012 legacy and in our analyses consider the attitude and commitment of the celebrated volunteers. This may be where the real party and legacy is at. It’s easy to make wrong assumptions but I am guessing that their involvement was;
Not competitive to the point of selfishness, self-destruction and sacrifice.
Not success at all personal, financial and relationship costs.
Not fear of failure, to point of manipulating the outcome.
Not tears at failing to be the best, and disregard for fellow competitors’ success.
But, joy at being involved in something much bigger than the self and a commitment to ensuring that others shared their enthusiasm.

And before I forget the point of all this (having just been to phone a complete stranger to let them know their cat has strayed far from home and is playing alongside a busy main road), I would like to reflect on the opening and closing ceremonies in which we celebrated British history and culture. We demonstrated to the world we are deeply rooted in our past. A past that sought to succeed at all costs in order to dominate our fellow humans, often with a blatant disregard for their welfare or opinions. In the spectacle that celebrated British culture we relied heavily on that past for inspiration, fulfilled many stereotypes to please the visitors, and focussed much less on the now and the future.
British creativity was at the heart of both ceremonies.
But are we to have 2 hours compulsory art, 2 hours compulsory music, 2 hours compulsory literature in which artists inspire so that we can be the best in these fields? Where is the guaranteed arts funding?
The arts are competitive.
The arts require sacrifice.
The arts really can be for everyone, whether as a participator or creator.
Who chooses? Who values?