Monday, August 25, 2008

What Makes the Olympics Special

The Olympics are over. As we look back at it, what is it about the Olympics that made it so special? Is it because it brings the world together for two weeks of peace? No, there was no peace. Even at the Olympic games President Bush was talking to the Russians about a war with Georgia. A Cuban athlete and his coach were barred from a sport for life because the athlete kicked an official in the face. There were questions about judging practices and questions remain over whether the host country, China, cheated to obtain some of their many medals. Peace? There was no peace.

Was it special because of how much China put into it? Maybe if you went, but for those of us at home it wasn’t so impressive. Sure, they threw many resources and many people at it, but what good is numbers when it lacks beauty? The 2008 Olympics were held in some of the ugliest buildings in the world. No, it wasn’t the resources they threw at it.

The thing that makes the Olympics special is the celebration of our similarities. Look at the contrast between the people of the United States and the people of China. We have freedom of religion and don’t appreciate it. They want freedom of religion and can’t get it. We place great importance on empowering individuals to accomplish great things. They place great importance on group accomplishments. We take pride in being a great melting put of cultures. They take pride in a very old culture.

When we watch the Olympics, we don’t see those differences. Instead, we see similarities. The athletes are from many different countries, but they all want to represent their country well. The fans come from many different countries, but they all want to see their compatriots succeed. When an athlete wins, they celebrate in the same way. When an athlete loses, they grieve in the same way. The Olympics show us that people are people, no matter which country they are from, no matter what their skin color or religion. The Olympics shows us that we are all brothers. That is what makes it special.

It will not bring peace. The flame fades and we return to the political race. We are reminded once more that though we may all be brothers, we have different opinions and we are very stubborn. At times, we have a right to be. Some of the issues that divide us are very important. Does life begin at birth or at conception? Does the government have the right to tell a woman she must carry her baby full term? Does the government have the right (as in China) to kill her unborn child? Should the United State be fighting other people’s wars or not? No matter where you stand on the issue, these are important issues and they must be resolved. It is not enough to agree to disagree as is done at the Olympics. With these issues there is right and there is wrong and they cannot co-exist.