Thursday, February 27, 2014

We're Better than This!

  •  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.

It's sad that 7 billion+ earthlings can find so little reason to assemble themselves together.  Of course, it's not really the fault of the average people; it's the result of centuries of disagreement and distrust among the elders.  Children have to learn prejudices; they have to learn to be bigots, racists, chauvinists, or supremacists.  And do you think they learn those behaviors from other children?  Possibly.  But I would place a hearty bet on the reality that those other children learned those behaviors from adults.  Wouldn't you agree that bullies learn to be that way because they see that behavior in an adult?  A spouse physically or verbally abusing a partner is installing that same warped mental software in his or her children.  Eventually those children leave the playground and go on to lead some portion of the world — maybe just their own family … but maybe to lead some major area of the planet.  And maybe one day they wake up with a grand idea to rid the world of all the troublemakers, whose only fault is that they don't fit the ideal of the person in the Big Chair.  This grand idea was the fuel which powered the Nazi machine, and time hasn't yet healed the wound.

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

I'm not sure who's responsible, but there are minds on the planet that have a very "small" view of things.  These minds spend very "little" time considering the grand design of creation.  Consider that our own galaxy would take 100,000 years to cross traveling at the speed of light, and that the galaxy contains some 400 billion (with a "B") stars similar (though many incredibly larger) to our own sun.  Then think about how petty and insignificant my views of my own superiority really are, in the light of the fact that there are innumerable galaxies just like our own spread across a universe that appears to have no end — NO END; that's a pretty long way to go on any tank of fuel.

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!

The conspiracy theorist might tell you that any plan to get the world on the same page has been devised by the Devil, and to a point I would have to agree.  After all, on what meaningful, grand idea would human beings want to work together in the first place?  Well, how about human rights?  And could we come up with a plan that will help people feed themselves without having to rely on a handout of some kind?  How about just keeping the place clean? Or some environmental plan that will help us stop killing ourselves and other creatures sharing the air?  Might we now avoid the spread of many common diseases through simply teaching the world the basics of personal hygiene?  Let's face it, teaching people to wash their hands after they evacuate should be right up there with teaching drivers to use a turn signal on a car, right?  The neglect of one of those two is possibly more dangerous than the other, and infinitely more stomach-turning.  Is it really so hard to consider working alongside someone who is "Not like me"?

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.

Just a little aside here: I have wondered why an iron medal hasn't yet been added to those medals that are awarded to the winners.  Those familiar with the Biblical Book of Daniel will remember the metal man in Daniel 2; he has a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly of brass … and legs of iron — seeming to represent a succession of earthly kingdoms, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar.  This image may have nothing to do with anything at the games, but, being a curious soul, I have wondered why there aren't more medals awarded to those who fall even farther behind; it would certainly give the conspiracy theorist something to chew on, don't you think?  Where would you stop with the awards though — clay medallions?

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 ….

The Story of Redemption - Narrated by Tony Harriman

Steps to Christ - Audiobook

Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing - Audiobook

Christ's Object Lessons - Audiobook

Up a Tree with Christina Bee - Audiobook

Leave the Thorns Alone - Music CD