The games have, if only briefly, shone a light amid the gloom. Set aside for a moment the enormous success of Team USA to consider Oscar Pistorius, the South African man who ran the 400 meters on two prosthetic legs, all the way to the semifinals. Or Sarah Attar, the first woman from ultraconservative Saudi Arabia to compete in track and field at the Olympics. She ran the 800 meters covered from head to toe, and though she finished far behind her nearest competitor there were waves and waves of applause as she crossed the finish line. Progress.
But let's resist the temptation to politicize the games; they are, in the end, about the transformation that occurs in the human spirit when the human body is pushed to its ultimate limits; or, more modestly, about the joys of the physical.