A Summer To Change Society, But Will It Last?

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With the arrival of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, a noticeable change has fallen upon the streets of Great Britain. People no longer avoid each other as they walk by, instead fondly sharing quick smiles at one another as if in the knowledge of some private joke. The spirit of the games has poured hope and expectation into our hearts, in a world where death and violence regularly take centre stage. From the moment Danny Boyle forged the Olympic rings in a celebration of the Industrial Revolution and we were treated to a quite spectacular celebration of British culture, all our worries were forgotten.

In the Beginning

The Olympics were wonderful, there’s no denying that. Even those that hate sports were hard-pressed to avoid the coverage at any cost. A society that has come together as one, as we waved flags furiously, flocking to the Olympic Stadium in order to see our poser-girl Jessica Ennis battle through the heptathlon to win gold, or to see Mo Farrah take a couple of his own in emphatic fashion. It wasn’t just Team GB that had us enraptured; Usain Bolt stepping up to the mark and defying the critics to retain his 100m gold. The world watched onwards, captivated by these incredible achievements, but the best was yet to come.

 

Casting off the Shackles

In modern society, we claim to be more open-minded and accepting of issues that in the past caused controversy – homosexuality, disability, etc. Often, the sad truth of the matter is that we are not. When passing someone in the street suffering from dwarfism, you can still see those that snigger to themselves as they turn to their friend to point them out. Homosexuals are still ridiculed and abused by many’ it may be the minority, but it still happens. With the Olympic Games at a close and such a roaring success, the wait began to see how a nation would respond to the arrival of the Paralympics. The answer: better than could ever have been imagined.

It shouldn’t take an event of world-wide magnitude to highlight our insecurities, but it happened. As a country we embraced the Paralympics with open arms, astonished at what these super-humans could achieve. At first, as the events came on television and we witnessed people with no limbs and a varying range of debilitating illnesses, it may have been that we felt uncomfortable. Then we had the grace to feel guilty about it. We have learnt to accept these athletes not just as an embodiment of courage and bravery, but as people that should be recognised, and not ostracized from society just because they are different to you or I.

 

A Lasting Impression

The Olympic and Paralympic Games have been an achievement to our country that we can take pride in. Memories that will live in the memory for a long time, and that we will tell our children and our grandchildren of with fond reminiscence. They have taught us things about ourselves and we have learned lessons about the society that we live in – at least for now. In our ever-changing society where news is forgotten one day from the next, will the positive impressions that have come with this year of sport, dwindle away as quickly as they arrived? Only time will tell. 

Ben Johnson

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemingway.

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