International peace lessons learned from Rocky
December 15, 2006
Regardless of their opinions on past, current or future events, all sane people would agree that war sucks. The results of war can be good — for the winners. But there are always losers, and for them especially, war sucks.
Both sides have to deal with incredible losses of life, money, resources, and for generations there will be lingering thoughts of guilt, regret and doubt.
I think the world is ready for an alternative to war, and I think Sylvester Stallone has the answer. That’s probably not the first name that comes to mind when trying to find an alternate path toward peace, but that’s just because you probably haven’t seen “Rocky IV” recently. If you haven’t seen the movie at all, that’s the one where the very American boxer Rocky Balboa, wearing a silky American flag as shorts, battles the massive, juiced-up communist Russian Ivan Drago.
Released in 1985, before the fall of the Berlin wall, the message of this movie seems obvious: Americans are great and communism turns people into machines.
Stallone, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, apparently wanted to make the movie more than democracy vs. communism. When Rocky comes into the arena, he is greeted by boos from the Russian spectators. As the fight progresses, the booing slowly turns into cheers and chants of “Rocky!” A bit fanciful perhaps, but certainly a positive portrayal of Russians as appreciative of obvious passion and tenacity. Rocky then does a fine job representing Americans and proclaiming, between gasps of air and with trademark borderline intelligibleness, that it was possible for each side to change and accept the other.
Throughout the movie, the boxers are stressed as being sportsmen, not soldiers. Sportsmen are fair minded, in control and civilized, apparently unlike soldiers. Perhaps we should have sportsmen fighting for our country instead of soldiers. Maybe we should use athletics as a way of settling international disputes and put an end to the massive destruction caused by soldiers.
I don’t quite agree with the insinuation that soldiers are uncivilized, but I do believe that an exercise of brawn, intelligence and desire would be better measured in the sporting arena.
But what sport? Boxing is a great demonstration of determination and resilience, but that’s a lot of pressure for one person to experience. Soccer is the international sport, but there are such discrepancies from country to country that it just doesn’t seem fair.
I believe a new sport should be invented specifically for the purpose of settling international disputes. A country’s wealth will have a similar impact on a sports team as it does an army, so limited resources is not an excuse. And because the country with the most resources will probably win most of the time, the match-up will be limited to one meeting, because in war, upsets count (such as, say, Vietnam?).
I don’t know about you, but I feel good about this solution to war. Now if the rest of the world would just put their hands in as well, we’d be on the fast track to world peace.
Cassie Rodgers is a student at UW-River Falls.