Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Ethical Dilemma - Part I

My race tomorrow is a 5K. The Ras na hEireann is the USA version of its famous sister race, the Ras na hEireann International Cross Country held in Termonfechin, County Louth, Republic of Ireland. I picked up my race number and timing chip on Wednesday night at Marathon Sports in Boston, and once home, looked at the race t-shirt and got a shock.
The back of the tee has a row of photographs commemorating Bobby Sands and the other IRA  prisoners who participated in the 1981 hunger strike.  I see this as a politicisation of the race: I want to run a 5K; I do not want to be part of the issues around the "Troubles" in Britain.  As a South African who grew up under the apartheid regime, I understand only too well the issues around this.
If the race organisers wish to politicise/advertise their causes on the official race tee, I would appreciate a heads up BEFORE I sign up for any race.  Race entry fees average around $30 each.  Do a few races and it starts adding up.  My past races have raised money for various charities and research foundations, and the race tomorrow will donate money to the Somerville Track PAC, an organisation which in turn donates scholarship money, travels money and meals to Somerville High School students.  So, money to a very worthy cause.
I do not want to discuss the "Troubles", but I will be writing a letter to the race organisers.  As a buddhist, the loss of any human life is a tragedy, therefore highlighting only one aspect of the "Troubles" does not sit well with me.
My dilemma has led me to question my participation in the race.  I have decided to race, albeit with very mixed feelings.  Why have I come to this decision?  The next post explores this motivation.

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