The crowd was still. Running bare feet ratcheted up the anticipation like a drum roll. The familiar sound of the spring board, the horse, and the gasping crowd played out in only a few seconds. Her body flew, spun and moved in ways that defy imagination and gravity. Somehow she landed on her feet with her hands raised and a smile on her face - make that elation. The crowd exploded in admiration - a lump formed in my throat. The announcers called for a perfect score, the girl bounced up and down, her teammates hugged her. Years of hard work and practice just manifested. Who could not admire this girl?
When was the last time a politician caused a lump in your throat because of admiration?
No matter the event and no matter the country, I dare say Olympic viewers admire the winners, the losers, and the also rans. It is not winning the gold that impresses us, but the human stories. We see them as ourselves - they are us. They have families. They have dreams. They are ordinary and they are extraordinary.
There is an honesty to sport. One trains, one performs, and then life goes on. The winners celebrate and the losers - temporarily crushed, resolve to work harder. Their dream is even stronger now. They pursue it relentlessly.
They are not selfish. They are aware of others around them. They admire a perfect performance and offer sincere congratulations regardless of race or country. They are united as athletes. They are not just tolerant of those different, but embrace them. They interact, communicate, accept, encourage, and truly cheer for eachother.
We are seeing the best of man. We are given a glimpse of how things could be.
Our politicians could take a lesson. Corruption, arrogance, devisiveness, and negative focus are in sharp contrast to the Olympic athlete. Let us imagine a politician growing up in the Olympic athlete tradition. I can dream can't I?
The prospetive statesman would have a noble dream. He would strive to represent all of the people. He would prepare his mind and heart for the task. He would follow the examples of successful leaders. He would value truth, love, respect, and service.
Our present system is broken. The values that drive athletes to perfection are absent from our political leaders, who find ways to justify nearly anything corrupt. Still, there is hope. Much of what is wrong with politics is due to we the people. If the eloctorate does not hold their leaders accountable, then who is to blame. Our leaders reflect our values.
It would be easy to blame the politician. That will not solve anything though. It makes us like the thing we say we despise. Like one leader said - "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." That is what an athlete does. That is what we will have to do to begin fixing this mess.
Until the next time