• By Tony Harriman
Last weekend, in one of the largest stadiums in the Russian Federation, the Winter Olympic Games for 2014 came to a close with the usual call to the youth of the world to assemble at the next venue four years on. It was quite an impressive sight to see so many nations of the world represented by a handful of young nationals, one of whom from each nation having the honor of bearing the flag for his or her country. There were the usual celebrations of joy … and tears. National pride meets individual determination, and the crowd cheers for those who do well … and those who come close to doing well.
The Olympic Games have come a long way since their humble beginning in Greece almost three thousand years ago. Now, just about every nation in the world sends delegates to either the summer or the winter Games, including Jamaica, which actually sent a bobsled team. Right now, the Games are the only opportunity the people of the world have where they can come together for a common cause. Yes, everyone is competing against each other, and we would all like our own country to do well in the competition, but recognition is given by all to those who succeed, regardless of the country of origin.
The mindset that should disturb you more than any other is the one that rests on any one of these pillars:
• My toys are better than your toys
• My Dad is stronger than your Dad
• My school is better than your school
• My team is better than your team
• My town is better than your town
• My country is better than your country
• My language is better than your language
• My kids are better than yours
• My skin color is better than yours
• My ethnicity is better than yours
• My gender is better than your gender
• My line of work is better than yours
• My religion is better than your religion
• My church is better than yours
• My view of the world is better than yours
• My understanding of things is better than yours
And, of course, the platform being supported by all these pillars, though not easily seen:
• I'm better than you — I … am better than you!
I don't think it would do any of us any harm at all to try to realign our minds to the true realities of life. For instance, next time you have to fill in some official form, try to think of things in these terms:
When asked —
• Race? Answer: Human
• Citizenship? Answer: Earth
It's unfortunate that we humans are so high-minded. There would be no need for all these many thousands of languages on the planet if our goals were loftier than simply those of trying to save our own skins, and to be better than everyone else. But, no, I think MY way of doing it is the best way. It's true, my way may BE the best way, but I don't have the right to force others to do it MY way. The world has endured more than its fair share of Hitlers — even the religious kind — throughout its long history, and we don't care for any more, thank you very much!
Personally, I enjoy the concept of the Olympic Games. I wish the road to the podium were not fraught with so many bruises and disappointments, but the pain seems par for the course. One has to lift a pound or two before he can push a ton or more. The Apostle Paul likened the race of the runner to that of the seeker for an immortal crown. Paul observed that he who sought the mastery would be temperate in all things. Paul is definitely making reference to the Greek Olympic Games, but he's clearly trying to help the Corinthians see that there is something better to strive for — not a rusty medal … but eternal life.
To close on a very serious note, we've got to find a way to stop being so stuck in a rut of our own making — all these walls and fences … some keeping people in … some keeping people out. This may be who we are, but this isn't who we ought to be. We may be mammals, but we aren't dumb animals. If you want to confess that you're better than something, confess this: We're better than this, and it's time we started acting that way.
And that's just my take on it ….