Jim Johnson: Pence uses Olympics to ramp up tensions

  • jacoblund

Sunday, February 18, 2018
Pence uses Olympics to ramp up tensions

A Gazette headline used with an Associated Press story, “Pence uses Olympics to push tougher stance on North Korea (Feb. 10),” is the antithesis of the Olympic spirit.

The ancient Olympics began in 776 B.C. in Greece and went on for 1200 years. This was the time of the Greek city states, and frequent fighting between states existed, not unlike today.

The word went out from Olympia, announcing the games; peaceful travel was allowed. As Greeks traveled, they were allowed free passage before and after the games. Fighting stopped.

I’ve been to Olympia and was impressed with how rugged the travel must have been, no easy task traveling to Olympia. Once there, the visitors would set up tents, camping on the peaceful grounds. The origin of these games is still argued, but the result was an event allowing for music, stories, poetry and religious offerings.

The Olympic festival went on for weeks, but in the beginning there was only one event, the stade, a foot race of about 200 yards. Later, other events were added.

The modern games returned in 1896 with the same spirit. We haven’t done as well, frequently canceling our games for war. But there continue to be bright moments. Jesse Owens went to Berlin in 1936, where he thrilled the crowd with his athleticism. Hitler and his cronies weren’t happy with Jesse, but they seemed to be the only ones.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jesse Owens some years before his death, and he continued to tell wonderful stories of his time in Berlin and the friends he made with his competitors.

The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, understands the spirit of the Games. He has called them “Olympic Games of peace.” He wants to reduce the tension between North and South Korea.

Mike Pence is using the games to ramp up the tension, to prove how tough the U.S. can be. Pence is not going to shake any hands, read any poetry, or tell any stories. He’s carrying the big stick, the nuclear stick.

Sometime peace can be better had with an olive branch.

Jim Johnson