A HERO'S SPARK: the final book in the Wicked Women series!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Olympics and Romance Novels...pathways to peace?

Good evening!

I have been, since I was a small child, a huge fan of the Olympics.  My parents, of course very Pro American, taught me the importance of cheering for my home team, but as I look back my favorite Olympian of all time was Soviet Olga Korbut.  Gymnastics were the cornerstone of American Olympic coverage back in the 70's, but the USA was not even close to competing with the Soviet Union, or other Communist nations.

It didn't matter to me.  I loved Olga.  She was my hero.  I wept the year Nadia scored all tens  and Olga seemed...not as good.  But Nadia was also from a Communist nation and to a little girl growing up in Michigan in the 70's, these girls, these gymnasts, they were supposed to be "the enemy."


Not to me.

My mother has a favorite Olympic moment as well.  It's from the Winter Olympics, although the moment in question from from the World Championship in 1973.  Irina Rodnina and Alexandr Zaytsev, the famed Soviet pair, skated brilliantly...even after their music track broke.  They continued skating and won the championship, all without music.

My mom told me it was like playing piano, and not hearing any music, but playing the notes anyway.

Still, they were Soviets.  The enemies.  Right?

Not for a moment.

One of my very favorite moments of all times in the Olympics was a tiny little figure skating moment in 1988.  Midori Ito, a Japanese girl no one in the US had even heard of, stole the show in the short program.  She didn't didn't matter.  I still tear up when I see the recording of that girl from a land far away from my own, skating with joy, excelling beyond any one's wildest expectations.

Hey, she's not American...why would I care about her?  What about all the great American skaters?

None of them moved me to tears.

Such is the magic of the Olympics.  For 17 days we, the inhabitants of the world, find ourselves, yes cheering for our own countries, but we will fall in love with and cheer for those of other countries, and those from countries with whom our own country might even be at war.  Politics fade away, or should, though it is an imperfect world, and politics have played a roll in the Olympics time and time again.

But for this moment, we strive for what can be.  We hear the stories about athletes from countries we may not have known even existed.  We cheer for names we won't remember a month from now.  And we don't care about what flag the athlete competes under.  We cheer for the hero, the underdog, the surprise.  We love a happy ending, no matter which flag is raised to the rafters.

How do I connect this to romance novels?  I'm getting there.

See, while all other publishing is selling fewer and fewer units and making smaller and smaller margins, romance novels thrive.  Why?  Because women typically read more than men?

Far more likely to bring
world peace than, say,
"Mein Kampf."

Because they are easy to read, fluffy, non taxing?

Possibly, but let's not get insulting.

Because in a time of political, economic, social turmoil, it's nice to cheer for the underdog, the hero, the surprise, and have a happy ending.  And if that underdog is a plucky woman in dire straights and the hero just happens to be handsome, who cares? 

If more of us read things and watched things that made us happy, made us feel peaceful, made us see how much good there is in the world, maybe there would be even MORE good in the world.

It's hard to go to war, I think, with a country once you've cheered your lungs out for their swim team or their gymnasts, or their cyclists.

It's hard to feel rage at the world when you've read a book that's filled you with the joy and possibility of love and a happy ending.

So over the next two weeks, lets absorb the sights and the sounds and the culture of the Olympics.  And after, how about if we all pick up a romance novel, and just read it. 

You could start with one my mine...I'm just sayin'!

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