Olympic Day is a reminder to all of what the Olympic Games have managed to achieve through all these years, cutting across boundaries of race, caste, class, culture, economies and gender to bring the world together onto a level playing field of respect, sportsmanship, tolerance, grace and peace. I wish these values, which the international Games bring out from within us every two years, become the reality of the human race as a whole one day.
What begins as our own anxiety as the gymnasts takes her initial position soon turns into our own stomach fluttering every time she throws her prop of choice in air and cartwheels and contorts to catch it. When at the end of her routine, the music reaches a crescendo and she dishes out her signature move-you can imagine she has been relentlessly perfecting it- you pray with your fingers crossed it goes smoothly, with which she reaches the peak of her performance, you, of your very real emotions while watching her from a country miles away and human race, of its achievement and grace it has learned over the years.
The way the Olympic games hook us all together every two years is by creating a brilliant narrative of togetherness in a time and age when civil wars and sectarian strife don’t alarm anyone. The Games give people a chance to work together harmoniously in collective-organization of a global spectacle which makes us better as individuals and as societies indicated by manmade markers. We, usually indifferent- ignorant, at best, suddenly ‘belong’ in a larger, overwhelming collective experience where just by sitting in your room cheering an athlete who may or may not be of your country, you become a part of the Games. The intensity of your dormant national pride then reaches it’s maximum and you surrender to it, recognizing yourself not as a man, a woman, a Brahmin, a businessman or a leader- but as a part of a nation. All this while, never ceasing to respect all other athletes out there in the arena competing against each other and themselves, irrespective of their nationalities.
You begin to identify yourself with the athletes, and you realize that at the end of the day, we’re all athletes- striving to stretch our limits as much as we can, persevering to fulfill our dreams, falling, learning, losing, picking ourselves up and starting over till we catch that baton of our dreams we threw so high up in the air that it reached the stars. This is why, it is often after the race, or the event, at the finish line or while receiving awards that athletes succumb to their emotions at the realization of their result of their blood and sweat. It is then when we, once again, truly understand the warm, flushed faces swollen with tears- of both the victors and the defeated. We applaud their effort to overcome all their physical and emotional hurdles, but more for trying to achieve something out of the ordinary, with grace and passion.
Thomas Hobbes declared that man was predisposed to war naturally and instinctually. Humble are my talents to disprove such a giant of a man; yet, every two years the Olympic games prove man’s inner need for harmony and sympathy transcending the shadow lines, which demarcate nations on a map. Every two years, a fantastic spectacle of international sports makes us feel like we’re not alone in our suffering and toil; that we belong to a larger global experience in all that we do and feel. The Games are rightly called a ‘spectacle of spectacles’ because this single international event has the immense power to wield magic over the entire world, which places athletes from diverse backgrounds into an environment of peace, tolerance, respect, camaraderie and grace.
It would be the single biggest achievement of the human race, if we could translate this experience and let it permeate into our everyday realities. If the human race- each individual speck of it; all countries, whether rich, poor, corrupt or hostile- took it upon itself to practice these global Olympic values and strive to put forward through honest toil and will power, the best version of themselves, I believe the human race would rise and reach above and beyond what anthropologist or sociologist could have ever imagined.
The Games are our way to create a future culture, away from a world on the constant brink of war and submerged in power politics; one of the utopian ideals which become all too real every two years. They are about the constant striving of man, life in motion, mutual existence and sufferings, passion and youth- they are a reminder of what we can be when we are at our very best collectively.
The Olympics are a great hope of a future where the creativity of the human spirit reaches new heights by moving, learning and discovering its own strength in togetherness. There is nothing existing or conceivable in the world that can put up a fight to a strong and open global front created by the values of peace, tolerance and respect- something that comes to life every two years- the Olympic Games.
By Pallavi Prasad