I can’t ever seem to remember Brent Carpenter’s name which is probably rude, but I have heard people here in Logan refer to him as happy, smiley guy. Almost any day of the week he can be seen riding his bike around town. He has a horn on it that he honks and he waves at every passerby. He is always happy and every time I see him not matter how crappy my day has been I have to wave back. This one individual brightens up the entire community.
When the Olympics came to Utah the torch relay came through Logan. It wasn’t the mayor, or the university president or some CEO that carried the torch on its arrival. Instead, to the cheer of thousands of onlookers the torch was carried in by Brent Carpenter. They couldn’t have picked a better person. As far as I am concerned he does more for the well being and happiness of the community each day than most of our leaders combined.
I contrast this event with the torch relay this year. Rather than being an inspirational event that brings people together it has become a symbol of human rights violations. (Yes, I know its the onion). World leaders are being encouraged to boycott the opening ceremony. A while back I heard that athletes were being asked to boycott as well. I can’t imagine anything more unfair to those who sacrifice a great deal and only get a few chances to display their talents to the world. If a point was to be made it should have been made by the Olympic Committee. They selected China knowing China’s human rights record. Don’t ask the athletes to sacrifice now because of the committee’s poor choices.
However, having said that on the way home today I was listening to NPR. The newscasters were interviewing a Canadian government employee in charge of business relations with China. They are headed to meet with Chinese officials this next week to discuss trade. All during the conversation the newscasters would bait the individual with questions relating to China and human rights. Each time the person would respond with “We aren’t in charge of such matters. The federal government sets policy and it is not our job to engage in diplomatic relations regarding anything outside the scope of business development.” I don’t blame the individual for the statement. I think that is the attitude most of us share. We like to be able to purchase cheap stuff. Walmart has made it easy for us to consume large quantities of items from China. Our lifestyle now depends on cheap exports from the far east. We now share an unhealthy, symbiotic relationship relationship with China. They ensure we have a comfortable and cheap lifestyle and we give them lots of money. Our trade deficit with China runs about one billion dollars a day.
Do the sins of the Chinese government bleed onto our hands? I don’t know. We provide a powerful economic engine via the dollars we vote with. We love democracy and freedom. I don’t think any good American would ever think or say that it is a good thing for China to occupy Tibet or imprison political dissidents but it is easy to silence our values with rollback savings.