I’m just coming away from the TV right this moment, after watching the Paralympics Opening Ceremony. And I liked it. I liked the dignity and the beauty and the fun and the messages of it. It could have done with a little bit more fun, but still, I really, really liked it.
My Dad and I were the only ones who stayed up to watch. Oh, and the dog, but in his case it was only because he likes to get his belly rubbed and his ears scratched, so I’m not sure that counts.
As a human rights person*, I especially appreciated the message of “All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and the signs reading “Rights” and “Equality” everywhere. I only wish that the states represented at these Games will take these messages home and start putting them into practice. But then again, I guess it’s a very big and very cool achievement to have so many nations competing in the Paralympics, and I also liked that there were female athletes in almost every team (I think only three of them are only men). That’s a good thing. And I liked that the Committee issued ‘wildcards’, allowing teams to compete that did not yet meet the athletic standards, but that will really benefit from the experience of taking part in the Paralympics and receiving aid funding for future athletes.
So yeah, all in all, I think London’s done (another) really good job. And watching the ceremony, I had a short moment when I felt like crying. Because of exactly that. Because they got it right. Because humanity is capable of all the dignity and beauty and joy that they showed and talked about, even if sometimes it doesn’t look like it.
* I’m using ‘person’ here in want of a better word. I’m not (yet) a human rights professional, nor am I an academic anymore, and believer… well, I hope most people are human rights believers, even if they haven’t consciously thought about human rights so far.
On Monday I visited Vigelandsparken (Vigeland Sculpture Park) in Oslo. I was there before, years ago, with my family. I can vaguely remember it. I remember we had a lot of fun climbing around the statues and posing with them. I remember I liked it. What I didn’t remember was that it is absolutely awesome and what I couldn’t remember, because at the age of thirteen or so, I wouldn’t have noticed, was that it is a writer’s dream.
The whole park is the design of the sculptor Gustav Vigeland and all the 200+ statues in there are his work. They are all concerned with one topic, and one topic only: humanity. Every expression of every emotion from childhood to old age is represented – from birth to death to birth with everything in between. All the statues are naked, making them timeless and focusing the attention on the feelings and motions. Yes, motions, because hardly any of them is in repose – they are all caught in movement and expression. I dare anyone with the tiniest amount of fantasy to look at those statues and not immediately be caught up in their individual stories! Just watch the slideshow and see…