As I was driving home from my morning workout today I heard an NPR news story about conditions in Sochi, Russia.
Going viral right now are these tweets and images where all the hotel rooms are total rubbish, I’m sure you’ve seen it. The real news story is about dissidents in Russia and how they are being dealt with in Sochi. Many are being locked up just so that Russia avoids bad press.
One individual that went to file a suit against the builders that enslaved and stole the passports from hundreds of workers that built the Olympic Games structures was threatened with jail time if he talked to the press further. Another individual protesting the severe environmental impact of industrial dumping into nearby rivers during construction for the games woke up to find his car vandalized. When he called the police, he was jailed for 5 days for “disobeying a police officer.”
Another protestor was jailed for 10 days for allegedly using a swear word, a rarely enforced misdemeanor that is half a century old. This is crazy cold war b.s.
Hearing these stories, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I live in America. We complain too much in this country, not that there is anything wrong with complaining, it is our constitutional right. But when you take a step back and look at how our freedoms stack up to other countries like China and Russia—it’s a startling difference. We can blog or tweet directly at those politicians, organizations or companies that we feel are total bastards, and then sleep comfortably in our beds at night with no fear of reprisal, no threat of economic or bodily harm.
I guess I just think we should stop our complaining for a moment and realize all that we have. Sochi and Russia have real problems and they go way, way beyond the unfinished hotel rooms. It doesn’t really what the final medal count is, I’m proud to be an American.