The eighth wonder of the world

It is unclear exactly what the criteria were in the recent competition for the selection of the «new seven wonders of the world» – an online poll that attracted such worldwide interest. Was it the size of the monuments that influenced the vote? Was it how imposing those monuments were deemed to be? Or perhaps it was their recognizability? Maybe the population of the countries where the monuments are located played a role in the voting process. It is not unlikely that a certain form of «monumental patriotism» drove a large proportion of the population in many countries to send in their votes. But it is strange that such a fever did not sweep along many Greeks, who once set the top spot in the Eurovision song contest as a national goal. Certainly the contest did not judge the artistic value of the monuments. On the one hand, this cannot be assessed by any opinion poll. But on the other, how can one compare the reinforced concrete and soapstone statue of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro with India’s Taj Mahal. Furthermore, the contest did not consider the contribution made by each monument toward shaping civilization. The Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru may be striking and beautiful but they had a relatively small impact on modern civilization, as they were only discovered about a century ago. In the final analysis, the greatest miracle of this contest was its organization. Let’s consider that for a moment: A private company managed without any help from national or international organizations – to coordinate an international ballot that attracted 100 million people. A contest that some may have regarded as silly drew the active participation of 1.6 percent of the world’s population. According to estimates by international organizations, a quarter of the world’s entire population heard about the initiative before the results of online polling were announced during a ceremony in Lisbon. Ministers of European Union member states found themselves obliged to make statements, albeit discrediting ones. (I am not just referring to Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, who makes statements at every given opportunity but to also his French counterpart Christine Albane, and others.) In a few years, no one will remember the results of this contest. It was a «media event» which will be forgotten like so many others before it. It was useful though, as it highlighted a real miracle: the technology we possess in our offices and homes. And this is the eighth and greatest wonder of our modern world. We do not see it because it is constantly before our eyes. It is this same wonder that mobilized so many Greeks to protest the destruction wrought upon Mount Parnitha.

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