The top current event this week is the Olympic games in Brazil. Beyond the extravaganza of opening night showcasing the international spectrum of participants; the dramatic personal stories of so many of the participants; the exciting competitions themselves; and the compilation of who wins the most medals, I am wondering how much do the Olympics contribute to a vision of world solidarity and peace?
For the athletes themselves and all the hundreds of their coaches and supporters, I would imagine it is a thrilling experience to meet and engage in such a wonderful mashup of representatives from all over the world. Will friendships be initiated, perhaps with reps from nations who are otherwise political opponents? Will small gifts be exchanged that will be cherished possessions for the rest of their lives? Will personal conversations lead to lifelong friendships, reciprocal visits, and shared common cause? Will the opportunity to live and compete together for most of a week increase mutual respect and an understanding about how much all of these young competitors yearn for world peace and effective, nonviolent means of addressing injustice and war? If even some of these aspirations for the Olympians come to pass, the Olympics have provided an important platform for the relationship building that ultimately leads to more opportunities for resolving conflict and reconciliation and thus world solidarity and peace.
And for the vast world audience and the rest of us? For this week at least we can hold a vision for a more holistic world apart from violence and political enmities. We can imagine a place in time and space where our young men and women of all nations experience a “commons" on our ever smaller and threatened earth and model that for the rest of us.
And what might we do with this vision?
In the joyful spirit of a world assembly such as the Olympics we can believe an alternative world is possible.
I think of the dedication and discipline of all those athletes over the past months and years, and how that same power from other young people could also be applied to our global problems. I appreciate YES!magazine, published here in Washington, because it highlights just this sort of dedication and commitment of young people, in this case entrepreneurs and social justice leaders as they create alternative programs that serve the common good...
When I view the Olympics I have a vision for creating relationships that foster international fairness, cooperation, mutual support, and the recognition of international interconnectedness and interdependence.
I truly believe a world of an alternative civil society is not possible, but it is actually being created now across the globe. I believe the “Olympian spirit” of good will and global solidarity is part of a broad movement toward a civil society that we have yet to imagine. Let the games (and world peace!) begin!
PS I wrote last week about the eaglet in the nest near our home. It turned out there were twins! And they matured rapidly once they popped up explored further and further away from the nest. We have not yet seen them actually fly away, but they also don’t seem to be as present as they were a week ago, and only one seems to still be hanging on. In the meantime a friend sent me a video from another aerie of twin eaglets preparing to fledge - and set to music even! Enjoy.
Eaglets practicing to fledge in Washington DC this summer.