What London 2012 teaches about participation
As a preacher I spend a lot of my time and energy trying to persuade people that they can be part of something which stretches around the world and lasts from forever until forever. The Kingdom of God is beyond our wildest dreams and deeper then our deepest understanding. So why on earth would it need people like me? The fact is, of course, that it does.
From the outset, the London 2012 Olympics have sought to engender a sense of participation. Although the participants in the games are amongst the top 1 or 2% of the fittest people in the world, strenuous efforts have been made to include as many people as possible. This has been done in all sorts of ways:
- Elements of the cultural Olympiad, such as the boat ‘Collective Spirit‘, made from ordinary things.
- The torch relay, which carried the Olympic flame within one hour of 95% of the UK population
- Clever, and counter intuitive, advertising to stay at home and participate, by those who usually take us elsewhere.
- An opening ceremony which included as many participants as humanly possible.
- Encouraging people to engage with the whole process through social media.
- The public and enthusiastic endorsement of the volunteer Games Makers.
- Painting post boxes gold in towns from which gold-medal winning athletes have come. If you follow this link, you will see that even the shop behind the post box has changed its name to join in with the fun. There are even one or two people who have taken matters into their own hands – and decorated post boxes themselves.
The final link above shows just how far the genius of participation has gone. When did you last see someone enhancing your local High Street at their own expense simply because they wanted to be part of something? This, surely, is what legacy is all about?
As Christians we have been involved in the torch relay and ensuring the legacy for twenty-one centuries. What tips has London 2012 taught us, I wonder?
Maybe that question would be better answered after the Paralympic games, with their tremendous vision of inclusion.