So the 2010 Winter Olympics is ending, and with it have come many of the usual commentaries, many with good points about too young athletes with no lives, about the change from sponsored competition to commercial product and endorsement megapolis, about the skullduggery of various countries and the political manuevers of the enterprise in general. Certainly, it is hard to look at the opening ceremonies, beautiful though they were, and not think that perhaps the 30-40 million they cost — and the ten times greater amount spent by China in 2008 — could have probably gone to better use. And yet all my life I’ve held to the idea of the Olympics, of countries coming together, despite conflict, war and strife personal and national, and having athletes engage for a brief period in serious but collegial competition in a great spectacle watched by much of the world. In a time of resistent tribalism, we have need of an event that brings tribes together, that celebrates peace. For all its problems, and despite other international competitions that do much the same thing, the Olympics remains a powerful symbol, a beacon of hope held up by that torch that sputters its way along.