Beijing -- A sublime performance marred by news of conflict elsewhere

It's been a day of extremes.

In Beijing, the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics,-- the "lucky 8" Games (see yesterday's note) -- got off to a spectacular start, with a demonstration of Chinese creativity, precision and theatrical drama that captivated the attention of an estimated 4 billion television viewers around the world.

Sadly, at the same time we heard of a new conflict exploding in another part of the globe. Military forces clashed in fighting between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Heavy casualties are reported on both sides.

What a shame we are such a long way from harmony.

Ironically, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was in China for the opening of the Olympics.
According to the New York Times, Putin declared that "war has started," while the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, accused Russia of a "well-planned invasion."

This is truly regrettable, especially on the day when the nations of the world gathered to celebrate the global village and the 2008 Olympic motto of "One World, One Dream."

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, made an appeal at the ceremony calling on countries at war to honour a traditional truce during the Games. Unfortunately, his call was ignored.

The athletes of the world will draw us to them, as we watch their stories in Beijing over the next 17 days. They can be an example to the rest of us.

Let's hope dialogue replaces killing elsewhere.

For more, see "World Media Hails Beijing's Perfect Night."

Also: "Russian Troops Enter Rebel Enclave."

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