Maybe the most obvious reasons for enjoying the Olympics is that we get to see excellence achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary skills and incredible work ethics. Human excellence is always deeply moving.
Just as important to me and millions of others is that we get to see gold medals going to Americans of several colors, to Europeans, Asians, Africans, Russians. Even tiny island countries contribute to the excitement and take a share of the glory. And for me one of the greatest delights is that America, surely blessed with an over-abundance of gifts, has countless people running in the name of other countries or getting educations in the US. What a privilege!
What one word best captures my response to all the diversity we see in the Olympics? Hope. The Olympics are proof that, when we humans are at our best, our diverse ways and colors create a rich, rich tapestry. If we can just take those lessons back home with us. . .
Standing in New York harbor is our Statue of Liberty, a gift to us — amazingly — from the French. In 1903 a plaque was installed, bearing a poem which captures the meaning of the statue and therefore the meaning of America. The last stanza is a wonderful testimony to the high ideals represented by our country and by the Olympics. The poet, Emma Lazarus, used these words to say what the statue itself means to say.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
There, in a few short lines, is one beautiful facet in the diamond called America. thanks be to God.