I am a person who likes watching sports. So for the next two weeks or so, I'll be following the world's biggest sports ordeal within four years. But as much as I love the athleticism and world-class competition, for me the Olympics are about far more than sports.
There has been a lot of talk and concern over the Rio 2016 games as the whole world watches and expects Brazil to pull off something amazing in the wake of major political and health disasters in their country. These games might not be the best the world has ever seen, but I really hope for some sort of Universal Blessing to grace the games with growth and success because the Olympics are important.
So, as the opening ceremonies give Brazil the official "Ready Or Not, Here We Come", I hold my breath that everything will go smoothly, pray for the success of the games and the athletes, and then relax and trust that everything will be beautiful.
That for 18 days, a country can stop worrying about disease and corruption and poverty and just relax and celebrate their culture and the wonderful things about being them. The world's eyes will finally be on them to celebrate rather than criticize, and it will mark the beginning of a short taste of peace on earth.
The Olympics is a unique setting when we watch people from across the world engage in the highest level of competition, and we rejoice no matter who wins. We are inspired by the dedication of the athletes and all those who support them, regardless of their race, religion, living choices, the language they speak, and even if we aren't on good terms with their country. For a brief moment, we are able to see past all that and recognize the effort and sacrifice involved. We rejoice with the champions and sympathize with those who left disappointed. We see stories and emotions. We see families supporting their athletes and competitors congratulating and befriending each other. We see these people as people, not just the countries they represent.
The Olympics is a special place where vibrant patriotism lifts us up and unites us in better ways than I think it does at other times. Everybody hopes for the success of their country's athletes and teams. Everybody shows their colors shamelessly. Nobody is afraid to cheer loudly and go crazy over their team, and nobody criticizes anybody else for any of it. Instead of people asking each other, "Why do you support that country? This one is much better," or arguing over which team is most right or has the best workout regimens, they just accept people's choices. It's a small opportunity for everyone to stop worrying about being right and just take time to be happy.
The Olympics empowers the world and inspires us to improve ourselves and reach our dreams. In the non-utopic world outside of the Olympics, competition often results in people tearing each other down to try to get ahead. But the virtues of competition come alive as athletes dedicate themselves to becoming faster, getting stronger, jumping higher, and pushing the limits of what has been done before. The focus is on achievement and pushing to become the best, and then to even improve on that. Competition is driven by the desire to improve and see everyone accomplish great things. Even though there is only one winner, the spirit of healthy competition at the Games celebrates everyone's accomplishments.
There are a special few things that unite the world across the borders that we spend so much of the rest of our time defining and defending. One of them is the Olympic Games.