During the Olympic Games most of us are in awe at the strength, power, and grace of the athletes. They may inspire many of us to push ourselves harder in our pursuits, whether they be athletic, intellectual, or otherwise. The Olympics are about competitiveness, national pride, and personal achievement, but let’s not forget what the underlying spirit of the Olympic Games is: a peaceful gathering of peoples in non-violent interaction and camaraderie.
In ancient Greece, when the Olympic games commenced, all disputes, battles, and wars were suspended to allow safe travel for the athletes and spectators. No armies were allowed in Olympia, and even the death penalty was halted. Just think of the impact on the world today, if we all adhered to those same rules! Has our planet ever experienced two consecutive weeks of non-violence and peaceful interaction?
The answer to that question is unfortunately likely “no”. Homo sapiens is the most violent creature on the planet, not just towards other creatures, but towards our own kind. We are one of the few creatures on earth that kills for reasons other than for sustenance. Jesus Christ taught us to: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Then why do so many who call themselves Christians promote and perform acts of violence? Maybe it comes down to the fact that we (of any religious, or not, background) don’t love ourselves, but that does not justify taking our self-hatred out on others. Violence destroys ourselves from the inside out, much more than it destroys others.
The recent tragedy at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin is just one of the latest acts of hatred and violence that has shocked many of us. What is most shocking about it, is that the Sikhs preach and practice peace and non-violence, religious tolerance and freedom, anti-discrimination, equality of humankind, the preciousness of human life, living honestly and truthfully, being active in society, selfless service, and sharing with others. In essence these are a people who both love their neighbors and live the spirit of the Olympics.
Let us all strive to be our own Olympians by training ourselves to be non-violent, and hence being loving and responsible people to ourselves and others. Though it may take some time, may we some day be living in the peaceful world so many of us imagine.