Monday, August 25, 2008

The Global Village

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it's own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; [Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails;... I Corinthians 13: 4-8 NASV

I received in my inbox this week a picture of the ocean. Waves extended to the horizon, yet close to shore, they churned in white foam. Various shades of blues and whites were captivating. On the beach were 4 persons holding hands, two female, two male of various ages. One was Asian, one European, one American and one was African. In bold black letters, written in the surf were the following words:

IF YOU COULD FIT THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF THE WORLD INTO A VILLAGE CONSISTING OF 100 PEOPLE, MAINTAINING THE PROPORTIONS OF ALL THE PEOPLE LIVING ON EARTH, THAT VILLAGE WOULD CONSIST OF

57 ASIANS
21 EUROPEANS
14 AMERICANS (NORTH, CENTRAL, and SOUTH)
8 AFRICANS

I was drawn to this photo on several occasions. Somehow when the world is reduced to a village of 100 people, it doesn't seem as vast. I think of my neighbours on this earth. We become a community. We share privileges and responsibilities. We are individuals with needs and strengths, joys and sorrows. It doesn't seem too far to stretch our hands across the water.

In the People's Republic of China, not to far from the Yellow Sea, another international community was represented. The Olympic Village in Bejiing hosted many athletes from all over the world. I had the privilege to watch many spectacular sporting events. Men and women devoted to a sport, supported by family and friends and communities, striving for their personal best, on behalf of their nation.

I was struck by a few things. On the men's marathon, there were three runners out front for the last hour of the race. When they came for refreshment in the last 6km, the lead runner, Samuel from Kenya received water as he passed. Behind him, Jaouad, from Morocco didn't take any water. Samuel took his fill and passed it back to his competitor. Jaouad was able to cool himself by splashing water over his head before tossing the twice-used bottle to the side. What a tribute to the human spirit and what athletics can do to bring people together. Kenya reached out in love to Morocco. Love is kind.

Prior to the sprints and relays, many of the competitors were "high-fiving" one another. What a spirit of community. The camaraderie is a testimony of good-will. Love does not act unbecomingly.

Finally, I was impressed by Adam van Koeverden's performance. He carried the flag for Canada, received much media attention, and in his first kayak race, I believe the 1500M, finished 8th. He was expected to win gold. Right after the race, he turned to the cameras and said, "I'm sorry."

Later in an interview he acknowledged that many journalists said he didn't owe an apology to his country and that it was unnecessary. Adam said, "I didn't have to say, 'I'm sorry'. I knew that I could and should and I wanted to. It wasn't my best performance and a lot of people have supported me."

Love does not seek its own.

Further in the interview Adam shared that he grew the most as an athlete in the 48 hours following his disappointment and before his performance in the 500M. He confessed he didn't sleep well the night before his final race. He did his best. For himself and his country, he received a silver. A great race. As a spectator, and along with many supporters, I cheered him all the way. I was impressed with his interview following his silver-medal performance. He said of the Australian who earned gold, "He deserved it, he worked hard and trained hard. He had a good race. I trained with him and call him my friend."

Of the competitor from Great Britain who received bronze, Adam said, "Really it should have been the two of us who got silver. In a race, 3/100 ths of a second isn't much, not even a stroke. He raced well. I respect him and he worked hard." Adam van Koeverden showed love to those whom he raced with.

Love does not brag and is not arrogant...but rejoices with the truth. He gave tribute to those who also earned medals. In another interview with Diane Swain of the CBC he said, "I want to give back in my short time in the spotlight. " He was thinking of others.

In yet another interview when he was given praise for his victory. He said, "I'm the one in the boat, but a lot of people have given and sacrificed for me to be here."

He thanked both his parents, brother, canoe club and his local community. He even thanked the strangers who have given to him. What a humble display of love to others as well as a mighty contribution to the global community.

These are national heroes. They are applauded and respected. However there are many unsung heroes.

Yeterday at church, the children sang a beautiful song before going out to Junior Church. They sang, "Man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart." How true.

We have the choice to love or not to love many times a day. God sees our heart. He sees what no one sees. He sees those of us who may never live, even a moment of our lives, on national television. He knows our motives and our actions. He calls us to love.

Let us love the ones God places in our paths today.

The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause of stumbling in him. 1 John 2: 10 NASV

1 comment:

Susan said...

Joyful, this post is getting printed off, folded up, and put in my wallet. It's something I want to and need to refer to often. Adam van Koeverden - that's the king of teammate I want to be...

I'm not an sports watcher, so thank you for bringing our attention to some of the finest moments of The Games.

This one will stay with me for a long time...