Olympic Brotherly Love
Sitting here in the Tokyo airport, returning from 18 days at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, I'm struck by what we just witnessed and were part of. It was truly both historic and also amazing. Not just that China did a tremendous job in hosting the event and making all feel welcome and taken care of; not the various thrilling and inspiring sport performances, or the medal charts; but that people from so many different nations (some whose names were scarcely known to many) came together in an uncommon place to do the unnatural and extraordinary -- cooperate, share, cheer and support each other. Even in areas that are currently in strife or conflict, like the stories of the Russian and Georgian shooters hugging each other during their medal ceremony, there were countless, less publicized other moments and encounters like this among we, the spectators. In every event we went to -- some 19 in total, there was a true sense of respect, admiration and joy of just being together to share in the spirit of competition ... and to me, who is far from naive or idealistic anymore, it seemed to be genuine ... and pervasive. It was impactful and meaningful.
So, on reflection, as I'm still a bit blown away by everything that happened in the last 18 days of whirlwind activity, I'm sitting here now waiting for my flight home and wondering, "It's too bad that the governments of these people weren't able to share in this like the people of their nations did ... though most who attended had the wealth to be able to and may not represent the average citizen. What if the spirit of 'oneness' that was exhibited by the various people, from so many disparate nations from across the globe, could translate into a long term setting aside the differences that divide countries and people today? Maybe we just got a glimpse of what 'peace on earth' is like."
It was refreshing and uplifting. For me, it was also de-stressing and enjoyable ... fun, too. It was a tangible measure of hope ... even though under the surface, you could sense the potential power of unbridled nationalism, and how it could be turned by governments against 'peace on earth' or another nation and its people. In our past, we have seen that happen, but it runs in stark contrast to what we saw, felt and experienced at the Beijing Olympics.
Let's hope and pray together that this attitude doesn't just fade away in the coming weeks, to be replaced by the same old barriers and norms of international relations and just sit on the shelf until the next Olympics. If this can work for 18 days, why can't it work in the world. Maybe we can 'bag it' and feed it to the government leaders around the world. Or more practically, perhaps we just "live it" in our own lives everyday... and hope and pray that others do, as well. Brotherly Love .. we saw it working in Beijing for 18 days. Amazing Grace!