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Olympic Lessons for Politicians and Activists

I’ll admit it — I’m a sucker for the Olympics. I love seeing sports I otherwise don’t follow much, and I especially love seeing sports I love that don’t get much visibility otherwise.

Part of this goes back to high school, when I had an older friend who was a Cyclist with a capital C. He was world class cyclist, and worked his butt off to get there. He put in miles of road work in all kinds of weather, and hours and hours working the the local bike shop both to pay the bills and to figure out how to get that last little advantage out of his bike.

When the Olympic qualifying rolled around, he ramped up his training even more and was selected as an alternate.

Sadly, this was 1979.

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and the US pulled out of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, my friend was really torn. He understood and even kind of agreed with the boycott, but he also felt like this was probably his best shot at the Olympics and now it was gone.

I lost track of my friend years ago, but I remember his work, dedication, and absolute delight in what he was doing every time I see the Olympics.

God, I wish more members of Congress and Democratic political activists were more like my old friend.

With that in mind, go read Garrison Keillor, and pay close attention to this part:

I still believe in hard work. It’s more fun and it’s a better way of life. I don’t have much patience for Democrats who grab hold of defeat and find vindication there. They long to be a heroic voice in the wilderness, crying out against selfishness and cruelty and going nobly down to defeat, and for their obituaries to say they were visionaries and ahead of their time. I’d rather they were in their time and did the hard work.

My old friend knew lots of cyclists who talked a good game. They knew all about bikes, and knew all about the strategy that goes into the sport. But they didn’t do the work, and so never even had a chance of winning.

Whether you are talking about sports or political activism, doing the hard work beats hardly working, every day of the week.

(photo h/t to anatman)

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.