Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Vision of Peace Through the Olympic Ceremonies

Admittedly the opening ceremony for the Olympics last night started off slow with several instances leaving me scratching my head and trying to piece it all together.  The dream scene seemed odd with that giant baby, and the entire first half hour consisting of a hodge-podge of people stomping around in a giant cluster were less than impressive.  Criticism is flying all over Facebook this morning, understandably so, but in the end I feel more than satisfied.

The thing is, what makes these ceremonies so special is not the cinematic or theatrical representation of the home country; it is the joining of the nations that occurs half way through and then witnessing the culmination of the entire world celebrating together in one small space.  For me, each marching group of athletes, adorning their home garb and proudly waving their flag, gave me an incredible feeling of satisfaction and appreciation.  The organization of the parade of nations is perfect, separating the various cultures and nationalities merely by alphabetical order.  And as they placed their waving banners along the grassy hill top, equally represented regardless of size or number of athletes, we could all clearly see that we are neighbors to each other, not distant foreigners.

I attribute the enjoyment of watching the commencement of these games to the traditional significance of them, what they represent, and all the boundaries they manage to cross.  As the final torch was lit and one brass flower peddle for each nation was individually set a blaze, my heart fluttered.  When the peddles rose, creating the symbolic Olympic flame, it was quite honestly an emotional moment.  This show transformed from being about Britain and became an ode to world unity.  The grand finale, sky lit up with an epic display of fireworks and Paul McCartney belting out Hey Jude as the crowd sang in unison “Nah nah nah nah- ne-nah nah, nah ne-nah nah, hey Jude!” sent goose bumps down my spine.

These global games mean more to me this year than any year prior due to my personal world exploration that has exponentially increased in recent years.  In contrast to four years ago during the last summer games, I have now lived overseas, visited many different countries, and become deeply bonded with new friends from all around the world.  In this very moment, as I await a rapidly approaching move, I am essentially without a home and have been in this situation for a while.  It brings me even closer to this idea that the world is my home and I am a global citizen.  At the same time, I feel a new appreciation for being an American, oddly enough.  After spending so much energy trying to disassociate with my home nation, watching them walk in last night in all their glory helped me to better understand where all that patriotism comes from.  We truly are a great country and for the first time in years, I’m eager to establish my home here on American soil.

What a wonderful power this athletic competition can have.  At least for this spectator, I have a heightened awareness and love for my fellow nations, and simultaneously feel so proud to cheer on the states.  Could it be possible that for this little snap shot in time we can have a fleeting image of something that somewhat resembles world peace?  If that were true, then maybe, somehow, in the words of Paul McCartney, we could begin to make it better, better, better, better…

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