I get to talk with a bunch of people about how they feel about the games. All of these groups highlighted in Douglas Todd’s article are in my circle of friends. Our Olympic dilemma is highlighted below.
British Columbians are among the most independent, individualistic and free-thinking people on the continent, according to polls.
They are the most inclined to reject institutions, distrust leaders and to strive to be “true to themselves.” To be “real.”
To be “authentic.”
It’s one reason West Coast attire is so utterly casual. Rightly or wrongly, many British Columbians associate dressing up with being “phoney.” They don’t want to put on a false face.
British Columbians’ continuous quest for authenticity also explains why so many are feeling challenged now that the 2010 Winter Olympics are under way in all their glory — from the stirring opening ceremonies to downtown protests, from worries about melting snow to Canada’s early gold, silver and bronze medal wins.
An Angus Reid poll revealed on Feb. 12 that Metro Vancouver residents are all at sea about the Games. Sixty per cent believe the Olympics are a waste of money that could be used for more important things. But 73 per cent say Canadian athletes make them proud.
In the seven years since Vancouver was named the 2010 Olympic host city, British Columbians, more than other Canadians, have been swamped with leaders urging them to buy into the “spirit” of this sports event.
As a result, the Olympics have been posing a dilemma for British Columbians who generally refuse to embrace anything — whether fashion, food, values, people or giant global sporting events — just because some quasi-authority tells them they should.
That’s not entirely a bad thing, according to leading philosophers from Socrates to Jean-Paul Sartre, from Quebec’s Charles Taylor to the University of B.C.’s Philip Resnick. Most British Columbians are not joiners, but seekers of individual authenticity.