Monday, August 13, 2012

The Soil I Would Die For: The Olympic Mindset

The world has found itself in quite a festive mood over the last couple of weeks owing in great part to the mighty Olympics that have been on display in London.  We have witnessed the best characteristics of our humanity in these games.  The Olympics are a great deal more than the just the worlds’ premier sporting event.  It is a statement of intent to emphasize our global relevance in every era.  It is an event which ultimately reduces our heritage, our nationalism, our caste, our creed, and our allegiance, down to an equilibrium of border less sweat and tears.  It was indeed a surreal moment to physically witness man made divisions being suddenly flooded with involuntary feelings of compassion and humanity.  With the athletes visibly putting every last drop of their soul into the competition, it suddenly ceased to matter what country they were representing.  Striving for sheer and honorable excellence will trump nationalism every single time. 
When the athletes roared with excitement after winning, we roared because we felt the energy that was radiated.  When the athletes broke down into tears, we broke down into tears because we could feel the emotion of the dedication that was required.  There were athletes competing who couldn’t so much as personally afford the shoes their feet were in, standing eye to eye with those with far greater privilege, and none of it mattered.  Not to them.  Not to us.  Greatness meant that all who competed with absolute honor would be equally treated regardless of background or privilege.  And that is exactly what happened.   There came that surreal moment in the midst of all the chaotic activity when a perfect tune suddenly started to emerge.  It was as if everything slowed down and all became silent except that perfect tune, which echoed throughout the corners of the world.  It was a tune that could not be heard but could certainly be felt.  And it said something.  It said it loud and clear.  It said that when we finally choose to, we will be alright.  Mankind will be alright. 

We know however that that is easier said than done. We know because we know what we know. We know that we are hypocrites. We know that we can hate as easily as we can love and that we can break as easily as we can create. We know that we can forget in an instance man made differences like borders and religions and governments, and yet we can just as easily hate to the point of wishing death upon each other simply because of accidental geography or the color of our skin. As we speak, there are wars being had and people being killed across the world. Who is right? Who is wrong? Does it even ever really matter? Will we ever start to believe in the power of our collective effort? Did not the plethora of color blended into every single shade imaginable within the crowds of the athletes and fans glow far brighter than any one single color?

The reality is that there are and will always be differences. However, differences are great. It is what makes life exciting. Just try to imagine a world where everyone is the same and how incredibly boring that would be. Differences are not the problem. It is how we deal with them that seals the fate of us as a people. And as every victim of such thought secretly dreads, the shocking sobriety of realism always follows the drunken romanticism of idealism. So too must I realize that life will always be prettier in thought than in actuality. 
Mind you however, I have seen my moment, albeit temporarily, live itself out to its best. London. She gave me that over the last couple of weeks. She showed us that even it if was just for a brief moment, we could destroy every single wall of division and hold the world's largest party where all were invited. She showed us that for a brief period in time, we didn’t actually have to worry about hating each other because we were all too busy enjoying the hell out of each other. She showed us that the success of our global collective effort will always be more powerful and beautiful than anything else. Finally and perhaps most importantly, the London Olympics showed that to really matter in this world and be treated equally, the only prerequisite is a heart that wants and a heart that strives. And that is good enough for me. It is good enough for now. It has to be.  Right?