We live in a brave new world. A world of internationalization. A world where human beings are freer to move about and live than in any other time in history. A world in which where you are from is less and less important than where you are going and what you are going to do once you get there. In this world, the Olympics are important to keep us all grounded in the safety of a simplistic, populist notion of national pride.
The Olympics allow us all to bind together under the flag of wherever our parents happened to decide to raise us. It gives people everywhere the opportunity to relax. For a few brief days we can stop acknowledging the exhausting list of differences that separate each individual human being. We can stop making the effort to understand, empathize and celebrate the world as a collection of individuals -- who have much more in common than anyone would like to admit -- and give in to the desire to throw everyone into neatly labelled boxes: Canadians say "sorry," Americans are obnoxious and Australians say "Crikey" and drink a lot of beer.
Underneath the banner of national pride that the Olympics instill in us, we can celebrate real Canadian values. How fast can you go down a hill on a piece of fiberglass? How hard can you hit a piece of vulcanized rubber with a stick? Who can paint the biggest maple-leaf on their body? And perhaps, most importantly, what is the catchiest chant? The quality of a nation can only be measured by the foot-stomping, compelling verve of its chant. This is attested to by the nearly 100,000 people who have joined a Facebook group labelling Pepsi's "Eh, Oh, Canada Go!" chant a "national embarrassment." It is heartening to see so many people standing up for this important mark of a country's -- and by extension, its peoples -- worth.
Now some nay-sayers will take issue with this. They will spout nonsense like "the Olympics are divisive and a celebration of nationalism -- which has, continually throughout history, proven to be amongst the most toxic of human inclinations." Or, "what about celebrating real Canadian values, like equality -- even combined, all of the Facebook groups protesting the exclusion of women from ski-jumping, amount to less than 5 per cent of the people who complain about some stupid chant!"
But these people are un-Canadian. Hell, they probably don't even like hockey. I bet they like soccer.