In The Spirit of The Games

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. And however undramatic the pursuit of peace, the pursuit must go on. 

President John F. Kennedy~

The 2010 Olympic Games have begun in Vancouver.  And whether you follow sports (or at least the Olympics) or not, you are probably aware of the overall message of peace that the games bring.  It is a celebration of the best athletes the world has to offer…and it gives a venue for nations to come together for peaceful competition over guns and bombs.  And it is in these individuals…those that are competing today under these peaceful concepts that will be shaping the world of tomorrow…taking with them their knowledge and experience in first-hand experience in international relations and teamwork.

Sure, the Olympic Games have been used before to make political statements, such as the US boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games.  But overall, it gives nations a chance to celebrate…and compete against their enemies in something far friendlier than military force.  Even during the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union often went head-to-head in these competitions.  It allowed the world to see that even these two big enemies (as big as they came in those days) could come together in the name of peaceful and friendly competition.

One must ask themselves why the spirit of the games cannot live on after the Olympic flame has long been extinguished…why the true spirit of these games must whither away until the next set of games two years later.  Or is it that society is changing…even if its very slow.  Can the Olympic Games, and the athletes that compete in them, bring about a change in world mentality that shows that we can get along with each other even if we are all different?

A lot of money is usually spent by the host city as it prepares itself for the games…money that could probably be used in much better ways…such as the fight against poverty and education in most nations of the world.  But if we toned down the games and did spend the money elsewhere, would the same type of feelings come over us as they do?  We all get a surge in national pride for our own nation (and for any other nations that we tend to view ourselves a part of) and love to hear our national anthem and see our flag being raised as we win a medal.  For some reason, it just has that way of uniting the people of an individual nation…and of the world community.  It is at these moments that we can see the people and the cultures of the other nations of the world.

Besides for war, the world tends to come together in times of crisis, such as the Haiti earthquake in January 2010.  But this is the time where a peaceful gathering of nations can show what the world could be like…what we could accomplish as a people… if we were to come together like this far more often than not.  History doesn’t need to be decided by war.  It can have a far greater outcome if we were all able to reach for peace…accepting other cultures and different viewpoints and ideals.  No one particular side is always right…and no one particular side is always wrong.  We must be able to bring all ideas to forefront and work toward the goal of uniting humanity as a whole.

President Lyndon Johnson once said, “Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.”  We are being shown how to take the steps that are necessary, and we have the ability to bring about the change in the overall mentality of our communities.  If the world can come together for the Olympics, then why can’t we come together in support of ourselves, our nations, and our world?  The Olympic flame not only lights up the games, but it lights up the path toward peaceful coexistence that we should all be working toward.

It is today’s Olympic athletes that are setting the stage for tomorrow’s history.  And may the lessons that they learn today never be forgotten.  The words of Gandhi come to mind and can best sum up the message we should take with us, “May we cultivate peace in our hearts; peace begins at home.”

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