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Olympics serve as reminder to not take freedoms for granted

Many Americans in recent days have been infatuated with – andsome even admit an addiction to – coverage of the Olympics asswimmer Michael Phelps strokes his way to a record gold medalcount, the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams try to throttlethe competition and young gymnasts toss themselves into the air tobe judged on their grace and skill.

While the games are a celebration of the human spirit, theyshould also serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are to live ina country as great as the United States and to be blessed with thefreedoms we have here.

Thanks to government dictates designed to reduce smog during thegames and the quelling in various ways of dissident voices, China’sleaders have done their best to present an image of a progressivecountry looking to re-assert itself on the world stage. WithChina’s ever-increasing influence on the world economy, the UnitedStates and other countries have reason to take note and beconcerned.

But stories that reveal cracks in the façade have surfacedduring the games and illustrate important differences between afree country like the U.S. and a country like China under arepressive regime.

While viewers may find stories about Chinese gymnasts taken fromtheir parents at the age of 3 heart-wrenching, the important thingto remember is that U.S. participants are competing – and in manycases succeeding – on the same stage without having the demands ofgovernment influence their course in life. The will to succeed and,more importantly, self-determination have been the driving factorsin U.S. competitors’ roads to the games.

Individual freedoms, self-determination and a drive to succeedin all areas of life have been what has allowed the United Statesto grow and prosper. That’s a fact that others only wish to emulateand one that sometimes many of us take for granted.