The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Olympics represents old Greek tradition of peace

With the fade of the fiery torch and the magic of the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Torino, speckled with hundreds of athletes from all over the world flashing their medals and smiles in unison, the rest of us are also painfully reminded that all good things must come to an end.

For what seemed like an incredibly short 17 days, countries from all over the world came together in a charming northern Italian city to share in joy, disappointment, determination and triumph, all through the means of healthy competition. The world watched and people fervently rooted for their own countries. Unfortunately during this time, the war in Iraq has now been possibly transformed into a long violent civil war.

?The spirit of the Olympics is based on peaceful competition, traced back to its rich Greek historic roots, dating back to 776 B.C.

The?games themselves?are exclusively tied with the Greek concept of Olympic Truce, a time when warriors would lay down their arms and stop waging battles in honor of the games, in recognition of the determined athleticism of the competitors, graced by their heavenly gods. It was universally accepted that there was more honor in outrunning a man than in killing him; the games were an alternate response to the strife associated with war.

Now, I am left wondering why this deeply rooted tradition, the true spirit of the Olympic games, doesn’t endure today. Countless lives would be spared in a matter of two weeks, and the unifying peace that is the Olympic Games would reign in the way it was intended.

The modern games were reintroduced in the late 19th century by Pierre de Coubertin, with the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896. His wish was that the ancient ideals would breathe life into a world hell-bent on destroying itself. He wished that sports competition?would become an instrument of international peace. Instead, the first half of the 20th century saw a reversal of a trend that was initiated by the idealistic Greeks. Wars did not cease for the Olympics, rather the games of 1916, 1940 and 1944 were cancelled due to both world wars. Politics and national agendas managed to taint even those games that were held without initial disturbance, most notably in the?1972 Munich games in which 11 Israeli athletes died.

As the snow in Torino slowly melts to give way to the spring season, as all the athletes return to their home countries and the news media returns to overwhelming coverage of violence and death abroad, we should be reminded that war is not a fact of life, and death and destruction are not inherent components of the world. On the contrary, like the games themselves, they are purely human creations.

If the ancient world was able to faithfully embrace the ideals of the Olympics more than 2,000 years ago, the same should hold true today, but for far longer than the couple of weeks the games are held.

Perhaps if we were able to do that the Olympic Games would serve as a model to the actors of international operations and exchanges. By using our unique physical and intellectual skills under fairness and an equal consideration for all others, the world can live more harmoniously, and ultimately be stronger.

Talin Maghakian can be reached at

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