I’ve had a wonderful summer, but the giddiness that I felt back in early June has become more measured. The realities of the world have made me more pensive and less worried about my own fun, but more worried about the general state of the world. Let’s face it. Covid cases are on the rise, wildfires are raging around the world, the situation in Afghanistan is as dire as it has ever been, and there is a kind of anger around the world that has changed from simmering frustration to open rage. It would be easy to just close the blinds on my windows and retreat back into the isolation of last year, but I’m determined to find the sunshine and evidence of profound goodness in our world.
Large numbers of people complained about the Olympic Games this summer. Many were angry with athletes who drew attention to concerns that they had about inequities across the globe. There were those who saw the current generation of champions as snowflakes without the drive and patriotism that once seemed to personify the heroes of the modern games. If I listened to all of the naysaying it would be easy to classify even the recent competitions as just more evidence of the demise of our society. Instead, I viewed the events with a very different eye.
This will go down as an historic event in the annuals of Olympic history. These were the games that might not have been were it not for the careful planning and attention to detail of the city of Tokyo and the committee in charge. It’s doubtful that the games brought the influx in cash that is sometimes the benefit of being a host, but perhaps this year the most important reason for fulfilling the promise of the games was in providing a venue for the athletes from all across the globe with a opportunity to demonstrate their prowess and skills.
There is a limited moment in time for most athletes. If they lose the opportunities when they are young, there is rarely another moment that will work for them. These young people have worked for years to reach a level of competitive excellence. Taking that away from them would have been tragic. I applaud those who made the games possible and did so with enough precautions to generally protect the representatives in each sport.
As for those who voiced their political concerns, I think that it is wonderful that they were free to demonstrate our true freedoms versus the young woman who had to defect from her native country for fear that she would be jailed. America is the land of liberty, and protesting is baked into our DNA. It is what our founders did when they had grown weary of the abusive policies of King George. To this very day people with a cause are free to peacefully make their voices heard. How great is that! Patriotism is not just about singing the national anthem or wrapping oneself in a flag. It is about the God given right to speak one’s mind.
This has also been a summer of nurses and doctors who continue in the battle against Covid-19 even as they endure criticism instead of the joyful support of a year ago. They are in the trenches feeling exhausted and frustrated even as they refuse to give up the fight. We should be shouting our support for them instead of insinuating that they have somehow mislead us. The truth is that nobody could have anticipated the mutations of the virus and the large numbers of unvaccinated who have held out even with the gift of free vaccines. Back in the early spring it seemed as though we would have most of the population fully vaccinated by now. In spite of a feeling that this did not have to happen, our medical communities are reporting to work every day and saving lives. We are incredibly lucky to have them.
Our teachers had a very short summer vacation and yet they were excited about returning to what seemed like it would be a somewhat normal school year. Now they are starting with the specter of illness hanging over their heads, an unknown situation that may dash all of their plans without a great deal of consideration toward how to proceed if the virus becomes a plague in their classrooms. Our educators are decorating their rooms, planning their lessons, and doing their best to proceed as if all is well. That’s what teachers do. They leave their emotions and worries in the parking lot and carry on with only thoughts of their students on their minds.
There are good things happening everywhere but far too many of us are focusing on what is wrong rather than what is right. Perhaps if we spent a bit more time showing appreciation for the positive actions of the people around us, we would all be better. Surely there are challenges to be met, but why can’t we also celebrate the fact that lots and lots of people are ignoring the negativity and doing what they have trained to do? The athletes are putting their hearts and souls into competitions. The nurses and doctors are quietly following their oaths to first do no harm. The educators are determined to keep our children learning. Let’s shout for joy that so much effort is being made by so many, and let’s turn off the noise that seems intent on putting them down. It may be a difficult time, but those who would insist that we are in an era of weak and ungrateful people, obviously are not seeing what I am seeing. There are still heroes among us, and they are glorious.