This is not a cliché.

01 August 2019

The Olympics: a race for victory or a community participation?

The hope is of a true Olympic spirit, not of dealing with profit, gain and power, but of loyalty and respect, wisdom and truth.

As Socrates said - according to what Xenophon tells us in the Memorabilia - "I think that not needing anything is divine, needing very little is very close to the divine: now the divine is perfection itself and what is closest to the divine is closer to perfection. I don't know how close they were to perfection, but we certainly know that even though they lived with very little, the people of Ampezzo did not want the Olympic games back in 1956. Not even the people of Val Gardena wanted to repeat the experience of the 1970 World Cup. If we don't think well, we don't act well, Socrates always talks and makes us think: "Great man, aren't you ashamed to occupy yourself of riches to earn as much as possible, and of fame and honour as well, but on the contrary you do not give thought to wisdom, truth and your soul, so that they too become as noble as possible?"

Sochi has become famous, I don't really know if Turin has been enriched, but from the socio-economic point of view the two Olympics were failures.

And if the vitality of Milan, full of energy and positivity seems to be ready for another great event, the little Südtirol-Alto Adige will certainly face a very complex situation. The decision to organise the Olympics should be dictated by politics, the real form of such, the one we seem to have forgotten, the purest, most ethical one, which decides in terms of progress and not of bribes and today of illegally procured roubles. I speak of the politics based on doing the best for the good of the population. The ‘great event’ that will happen to us however, is above all dictated by factors of development. And development is nothing more than the strengthening of a single dimension, in this case of purely economic value.

A society that thinks and acts only out of greed for money becomes a society in regression, corrupt in value standings: a civilisation falls for corruption of customs.

History never repeats itself, or, as Marx maintained, history always repeats itself twice: the first as a tragedy, the second as a farce. That '56 changed the course of the Dolomites a lot, understood as environment, place, space, dimension is a fact. In German a unique and intimate word sums up all this: Heimat. That '56 transformed the Dolomites into business and today business has become a tragedy is also a fact. Some people call it a new historical opportunity. And we have already started the process anew. Despite the negative opinion of Bolzano and Tyrol, the Alemagna project, the Venice-Munich motorway, is being discussed again. But what will happen to the Val Pusteria state road, which is already heavily congested? And won't guests who love peace and quiet in the now important biathlon centre become disaffected with Antholz-Anterselva and our other areas? And will Colle Santa Lucia and Fodom, and Cortina itself, have an identity advancement, will there be a strengthening of the Ladin language, or will economic development be limited to raising house prices? And does selling one's own house, in a small community, not have strong repercussions for the territory itself? And does it not mean losing the sense of belonging? But the real question is: why do we play these games? What is the reason? To make us famous? To attract more and more people? To avoid the depopulation of the mountain area? What is the message? There be athletes, spectators, journalists, and so we will have to increase the number of beds? We will have to reinvest and relaunch the Cortina ski jump. And then what? And if ten years of UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites has not increased people's sensitivity, perhaps the contrary even, will we really be able to makethe 2026 Olympics a sustainable games? Sustainable in what? And how sustainable? And what does an abused term like sustainability mean today? Are we wise enough to understand what has kept the world together in its own right since Goethe's Faust? And do we Ladins value a word as meaningful as ‘community’ enough? Is it the Olympics that will most strongly bind a people or is it our culture, our holding hands, our making a common project that makes this possible? But are the Olympics a common project? And what links Milan to Cortina? I have many questions, and these Games are almost upon us. But from now on we must remain united with all the strength we can and the desire to make sure that the ugliness does not affect our hearts, because choices of opportunism and civilization are soon to make a breakthrough in a people. Will we be able to cure ourselves, to cure the evils of the polis, of the city? And will we have the ability to think in depth about how much reason inspires morality as morality orients society? Socrates is still speaking, and I think of how much a people, and history teaches us this, can soon embarrass itself. We need a pedagogical art that can guide man to reason, to strip his soul of preconceptions. What we should have is a real necessity: to make ourselves better. Not only be knowledgeable, but wise. Not only to write and ask, but to go on with the good example. And perhaps, before despair, look at the sky and invoke the philosopher of nature, Diogenes of Apollonia, who claimed that the air was intelligence. But if we breathe a bad air, will we remain intelligent beings?

michil costa