They came. They saw. They conquered. The world met in London. Athletes competed while under a flag of five rings... one for each continent (Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia/Oceania, and the Americas). In these days of competition, there has been a bigger understanding of our cultural differences and a bigger exchange of human understanding. For these past couple of weeks, the nations of the world have been united in friendship, harmony, and peace.
Watching these games, I have seen the athletes from countries all over the world act better than our leaders have. Gold-medalist Usain Bolt of Jamaica was giving an interview when the national anthem from another country started to play during an another medal ceremony. He stopped the interview to honor that athlete. During another race, a Chinese runner fell injured. So two others went back and helped him across the finish line. Gymnasts have hugged and swimmers have high-fived. This is cross-culturalism (I coined that term some time ago in another blog entry) at its greatest. Our national leaders can say and do as they wish, but when this many nations... this many people of the world come together, the biggest winner is a better understanding of each other. We are reminded for these days what it means to be part of the human race... something our leaders need to remember, as well.
Not all of the athletes will win medals. There are even participating countries that have never had an athlete win a medal. But they are all winners in the eyes of the world. They came together for peaceful competition and they leave with a greater understanding of other nations and other cultures. Today's Olympians could be tomorrow's leaders. The lessons they have learned in London will go on long after the Olympic flame is put out and after the five rings that make up the Olympic flag are moved to Sochi, Russia (winter) and Rio de Janiero, Brazil (summer). And though we have only been bystanders in these events, watching from our homes and from the stands, we have also learned these same lessons. We have witnessed our athletes at their very best and showing us how it should be done.
Every two years for 17-days, the world comes together to watch our athletes compete. We always want our own to do well, but we still somehow find ourselves cheering on the athletes of other countries, too. In the end, we are shown that it doesn't matter what country a person is from or how different one's culture is from our own. We are all part of the human race, all inhabiting our own small part of this planet. Uniting together under a flag of five-colored rings can teach us a great many things. There are no limits to what we can accomplish when we come together under peace and friendship. May the Olympic spirit not diminish when the flame is extinguished in London, but rather, may it live on in each of us wherever we are until the next beacon is lit to bring us together.