Doing it for appearances

I have gone to the Olympic track & field trails a couple of evenings and it was fun to experience the atmosphere there. 

It also brought up a couple of (mildly attached to) stories for inquiry. 

One is how the big money interests seems to trump anything else, such as free speech. Visitors are not allowed to bring in banners and signs, and no citizen groups are allowed to have a booth, so that leaves only corporate signs, banners and booths with the exception of the military promo and recruiting area. The organizers have set up a few small “free speech zones” away from the event, at locations very few will happen upon. This makes the event itself seem somewhat sterile and corporate, and less interesting. 

The other is the usual security game they are playing, with a long list of things that are illegal to bring into the event, searches of any bags visitors have, and body scans with wands and patting down. It may seem impressive at first. But noticing how low the fence around the area is, and how easy it would be for anyone to pass something over or under it to someone on the inside, it becomes a little comical.

So in both cases, there is a game of doing it – at least partly – for appearances. There are a few free speech zones few ever sees. And a thorough security check that has no impact if someone really wanted to bring in something illegal. 

First, what is the value in doing it this way?

Nike Sweatshop

The Olympics is corporate lighthearted entertainment, even if the ideals behind it are something else, so I guess it makes sense to keep anything away that would draws attention in a different direction – such as a focus on the Nike sweatshops or the Chinese treatment of Tibet. It could hurt business by keeping some folks away, and also damage the Olympics as a brand. Of course, it only makes sense if we see the Olympics as a corporate event, and not one for or by the people. I personally would have found it much more interesting, and honest, if some political information and slogans were allowed. 

And if the sham security measures makes people feel safe, even if it just an illusion, I guess that has its function too. But again, only if appearances are more important than substance. Here too, I would have preferred a more honest approach.

And finally, how and when do I do the same? 

When do I exclude certain views and opinions? I do it any time I believe a story. When I take a story as an exclusive truth, I have to push away or put down the validity of its reversals and other viewpoints. And this goes for any stories I may have about the Olympics, security, corporations and so on as well. 

When do I create the appearance of safety when there is none? Again, whenever I hold onto a story as true. Believing a story, any story, I get to feel “safe” by knowing how something is, although I really don’t know. Also, whenever I go into a story I am distracted from noticing the impermanence of everything, including the life of this human self. I get to feel safe by temporarily forgetting that there is no ground to stand on. 

And when do I do something for appearances? Again, whenever I believe a story. I tell myself it is true – and go to emotions, stories and others for evidence. I do all this to create an appearance of truth in a story, although I know there isn’t that kind of truth there. Also, I often say and do things to create a certain image of me in somebody else’s mind. Sometimes, innocently because when we talk we have to take a certain viewpoint. Other times, just for fun and for noticing the dynamics around it. And sometimes, to appear a certain way in order to bring something up in the other (respect, admiration, pity and so on). 

In all of these cases, I find that what I see out there is a mirror of what I am doing right here. 

As usual, it is helpful to do these kinds of inquiries so there is a sense of us here, rather than we versus them. It helps me address these issues in a more level headed way, and in a way that is more likely to invite some curiosity and receptivity in others. 

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