In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving
As the 2008 Summer Olympics came to a close this past week, I must express my wholesale amazement at the many feats of athletic excellence that I witnessed over the past 16 days. Whether it was swimming, track and field, rowing, or whatever, the hard work that these extraordinary men and women did to get to the Olympics – coupled with the sheer guts, heart, sweat, and blood – leaves one at a loss for words.
For me, my absolute favorite part of the Games was the medal ceremonies. I can only imagine what it must feel like standing on the podium, with gold medal around your neck, and hearing the National Anthem of the United States being played and the flag our our country being raised. I have frequently teared up watching those fantastic athletes stand there and cry themselves.
As I reflect on what has just transpired, I yearn for a day when the only conflict between nations will occur at some city somehwere every four years during the Olympics.
Wouldn’t that be simply amazing?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a day came when nations no longer invaded other nations on the pretext of “human rights” or “national security”? Wouldn’t it be amazing if a day came when no one thought that strapping a bomb to his (or her, frighteningly) chest was the “will of God”? Wouldn’t it be amazing if a day came when people of faith would “vie with one another in doing good works,” as the Qur’an exhorts us to do?
Wouldn’t it be amazing?
I can dream; I can hope; I can pray.
Yet, I know that humanity frequently descends to its worst of tendencies. Evil is everywhere. I know that. I don’t like it, but I know it to be true, nonetheless.
Yet, that should not leave us discouraged. Even though many, many human beings succumb to the evil within them, they also have an equal tendency to do good. Each of us has the breath of God within us, and that is enough to allow us to do enormous amounts of good. And countless fellow human beings have do so.
Take Jonathan Hoffman of Direct Aid International. Look at all the tremendous amount of work he has done for the children of Afghanistan. He risked his life so that kids in a far off land can get an education.They are not his kids, yet he does so nonetheless. He is living testimony to the greatness of humanity, a greatness just as spectacular as Michael Phelps’ feats in the swimmimg pool or Usain Bolts’ on the track.
And so let us pray. Let us pray for a day that humanity can live together as brother and sister, respecting each other as fellow human beings, giving each other the dignity he or she deserves as one shaped by the very hand of God.
Let us pray for a day when the only conflict between nations will be – not in towns, cities, and villages – but on the track, or in the pool, or on the court. And the weapons of that conflict are balls, and birdies, and javelins, not cluster bombs, laser guided missiles, and rocket propelled grenades.
I can hope; I can dream; I can pray. And in His most Holy Name I do so. Amen.