This morning I read an article by the president of Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver, Bill Mollard. As someone working in the Downtown Eastside, he was no doubt immersed in the hype of the Olympic event, but also issue of the ongoing poverty many in Vancouver endure. So it's from his context that I find his words on the legacy of the Olympics quite thought-provoking (and hopefully action-provoking!). Here's a snippet of Mollard's comments:
"Could the dogged determination it took to prepare for and execute the games, and the delightful sense of Canadian identity that emerged during them, point toward a way forward for our nation? If we applied the same resolve, brilliance and financial resources from churches, government, scientists, business, police, artists, volunteers, activists and everyday people that we did for this landmark event, what couldn’t we overcome?
Who are we going to be, Canada? The future is ours; what kind of country do we want to live in?"
And continuing, Mollard offers a specific challenge to address this "future":
"Imagine if people looked back and said, 'that was the year we felt something change.' And imagine the part that we, as Christians, could play in this change. Because it’s an issue long dear to my heart, let me let me take you down just one particular path of possibility: ending homelessness... After being caught up in the achievement of these Games, that dream has never felt more achievable. I, for one, believe that Canadians are compassionate, generous, ingenious people who want to empower one another, and especially our most vulnerable citizens. I believe that, with the same communal pride we felt during the Olympics, we can come alongside the mentally ill homeless with the help and care they need. We can offer recovery programs to the addicted that provide a way out of their debilitating condition into a full, good life. Not only can we do this, but we can become known across Canada as the catalyst for this kind of collective compassion."
An overly optimistic vision for the potential of Canadians? Perhaps. A worthwhile proposition, however? Most definitely. And as someone who felt the "change" in Vancouver for two weeks in February, I'm challenged to examine how my cultural participation for the Olympics can extend to more lasting change for my community and our country.