The Olympic Creed reads as follows:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
This is true. We all love the winners. But what truly inspires us are the people who refuse to give up. Those crazy enough to try despite facing ridicule. Despite an overwhelming risk of failure. Those who’ve already lost and still insist on finishing the event.
These people embody what it means to be an olympian.
Today the opening ceremonies for the Sochi Olympics were held.
One of the controversies that surround the event is about the nations views on the LGBT community.
We may look back at defining moments in olympics like 1936 and what Jesse Owens accomplished in Berlin.
What we may not take into account is that even after Jesse returned home to the United States he wasn’t given the same basic rights as everybody else. He was still black and couldn’t ride the same elevator as white people.
A lot of us have come to grips with the fact that we are human beings no matter our color, gender or sexuality. But as a collective we still have a long way to go.
We can feel shame and disgust at how we’ve treated people different from ourselves in the past. We can think that we’ve evolved beyond that and that there’s only a few ignorant people out there holding on to an old view of the world. We can think that it’s not our problem and that those people don’t deserve our time and attention.
They do. They deserve an honest chance to be heard, seen and included in the debate. Steamrolling it and saying: “Sorry guys, get aboard or get left behind!” isn’t conducive to positive change and divides us even further.
It might feel like the loudest voices are the ones that spread dehumanizing views. It might feel like OUR voices aren’t being heard. It’s fine if others choose to not invite us into their discussion. We can’t force them. But we should invite them to our discussions.
We may have our differences in opinion, but we shouldn’t exclude anyone from participating. If they actively choose not to we should accept their choice and move forward.
Even if there are stand out achievements by people from the LGBT community during these olympics we need to recognize that it’s only one part of it. The hard work will be done by everyday people changing the world one person at a time.
The individual achievements will serve as the stories.
The individual people will serve as the icons.
The collective will serve as the solution.
“In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more that that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?” – Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens – Berlin Summer Olympics 1936:
Derek Redmond – Barcelona Summer Olympics 1992:
Jamaican Bobsleigh Team – Calgary Winter Olympics 1988: