For two weeks every two years the world comes together to celebrate diversity, hard work, sacrifice and perseverance. We rally behind athletes whose stories bring tears to our eyes, who have overcome odds, injuries, personal struggles, and often political and social conflicts within their home countries. We see the common struggles. We see the desire to work for something and achieve something greater than ourselves. We see the best in people.
This lens into humanity has profound power. Power to transform our own lenses even if its only for a little while. I love the Olympics for this reason. We see what it means to be human. We feel the anxiety, disappointment and elation along with the athletes. We cheer and we mourn along with others who may or may not “be like us” on the surface.
Athletes on the Olympic stage have tremendous power to remind all of us how connected we are. How the human experience is a common experience. Whether they choose to speak out or actively engage in conversations related to diversity (religion, skin color, sexual orientation), each and every athlete influences those who watch.
The Olympics are also ripe for commentary, negative attention, poignant remarks and critiques related to coverage and portrayal of athletes, diversity issues, and gender issues. I applaud those who are willing to push, explore and bring attention to these issues.
But for now, I want to focus on the positive…
As my white skinned five year old swings from our play set, drops to a stuck landing and announces, “Simone Biles sticks the landing!” I have to smile. For today, Simone is her hero. For today, we are united in the struggles and glory of our country’s and the world’s athletes. For today and the two weeks every two years that bring nations together, we celebrate diversity. We honor common struggles that make us human. We listen and we feel. We are united.