Barnes Column: A few thoughts on the Games

Later this week the Olympic Games begin. In South Korea.

The pictures being transmitted from that country show extraordinarily beautiful mountainous areas and lovely photos of cities.

My memories of Korea are not so resplendent. I, and no doubt other soldiers who were there in the early 1950s, have less pleasant memories. But I can and will put those recollections aside and watch the Games with as positive an attitude as I can muster.

But I must confess that a significant part of me is very uncomfortable and apprehensive. Will the Games be about the highly trained athletes and their superior abilities or will the event be diminished by politicians and agitators?

The two leaders of the United States and North Korea will undoubtedly be heard from during the Games. Both seem likely to interject themselves into discussions that will be political in nature rather than affirmative about the accomplishments of their young men and women athletes. Regrettably, both political leaders have consistently demonstrated an embarrassing propensity to engage in childish rhetoric (example: “My button is bigger than yours!) rather than communicate in the language of mature leaders.

What we have been hearing is what we will likely continue to hear.

It is also clear to me that we can expect no help from Congress. In the words of Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, “Congress is weaker than it has been for decades, the Senate isn’t tackling our great national problems. Republicans and Democrats are obsessed with political survival and incumbency.”

So, resigning myself to this reality, I have decided — for the sake of my mental well-being — to assume a perspective that I adapted from one of my heroes: Charlie Brown.

It is based on an old Peanuts cartoon sequence.

In this strip, Charlie Brown has left his familiar and comfortable pitching mound (at the suggestion or urging of his teammates, as I recall) to take up a position in left field. The farther he goes within the field, the higher the grass gets until he is completely surrounded by grass taller than he. In the final cartoon block, Charlie Brown says, “I just hope I’m facing in the right direction.”

I cannot help but identify with Charlie.

Let the Games begin!