Profoundly human

Twelve hours later, I’m still processing the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

This is not the first time I’ve realized that what I saw before me, on a television set, had just become one of those “moments” that shape my personal awareness of my country.

I was one of those kids herded around black-and-white screens in school gymnasiums to witness the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. Most Canadians can tell you exactly where they were at that moment, with 34 seconds remaining in the final game of the series on September 28, 1972, when Paul Henderson scored “the goal of the century.” These are moments that transcend sport. To see others joining in the Opening Ceremonies who have, in my lifetime, provided Canadians with these moments—Nancy Greene, Wayne Gretsky, Rick Hansen—eloquently reinforced this point.

Working in BC tourism, the Olympics have been a seemingly-endless marketing project that has been the focus of much of our collective effort for years. The reality of it seldom poked through—though my first glimmering came when hundreds of people crowded our downtown to celebrate the Olympic Torch on February 1.

I have been numbed enough by it that as late as yesterday afternoon I wasn’t sure I would even watch the Opening Ceremonies. Yet from the moment that the Mounted Police honour guard carried in the flag, and the host nations staged their stunning welcome, I finally remembered everything that this night meant.

I have heard John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, speak many times over the years leading up to the Games. I have never heard him speak with last night’s passion. I found it particularly thought-provoking when he called Canada “a land visually blessed, rich in history and profoundly human.” I’m still thinking through many things that were said last night, but I know that these words will stick with me.

I think that no matter what any British Columbian might feel about the Olympics, it would have been difficult to avoid last night’s pride. The Opening Ceremonies did a fine job of encapsulating today’s Canada. I suppose that I’ve read hundreds of attempted definitions of Canada over the years, but I think that “profoundly human” is the perfect sentiment for this exact moment. Thank you, Mr. Furlong.

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Bruce Wishart
Whimsies. Sometimes about writing.
Sometimes about folklore. Sometimes
about the sea, or life on the coast.
And sometimes not.