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Friday, February 12, 2010

Here Comes Everybody!

Ghana is represented in the Winter Olympics. And Ethiopia. Cyprus. I love this! I love the world. The whole world, everybody from Andorra to Iran to Israel to Tadzikistan. Tell me it's all schmaltz. I won't believe you. On nights like this the idealist in me is alive, flaming in fact. We are everybody and yes, we are the world. All of it. Playing together on this pale blue dot. Sadly, the Jamaican Bobsled Team didn't qualify. But Moldova is represented. Here comes everybody! My daughter watched the Torun Olympics from either Italy or Estonia, I don't remember which. But I do remember her jubilation at being in the Town Square in Tallinn Estonia when their first gold medalist, a cross-country skier, returned home to an enormous crowd as the conquering Queen. I love this parade, this Opening Ceremony, the time we take to honor each participating country, the reminders of who we all are and the faces given to strangers, neighbors, ancient enemies. The ironies are striking. Turkey and Armenia. Bosnia and Serbia, Serbia and Montenegro. Macedonia and Greece. Iran and Israel. I'm sentimentally attached, of course, to Estonia and Sweden and Poland, and I will be cheering every chance I get for a Swede to beat a Norwegian. The huge Chinese delegation walked in and every single one of them held up a camera to capture their experience. The Georgians were somber and clearly affected by the tragedy form earlier today. The lone Mexican competitor looked lost. The Poles brought their best hopes, cross-country skiers, and got through without being the object of any tacky jokes. But it came close. And then the United States comes in, all boisterous and overwhelming and confident. It's a herd of Americans! This is always a striking moment for me. There is pride, of course, but also a sober sense of awareness of scale. We're big. We're really huge. And to see our relative strength in numbers out there on the field, well, what can I say? What needs to be said? Having sat in living rooms across the world and watched the United States show up in force, I always feel the embarrassment of riches. Seeing us as others see us. Dominant and dominating. Overwhelming. It's a poignant moment, always. I'm never moved to apologize for who I am, who we are. But I always do feel a sense of responsibility and humility. With great wealth comes great requirements. And I wonder, are we worthy? Are we good stewards of all we are, all we have? Sport, war, humanitarian aid, relief, music, art, literature, science, medicine, economics. Oh yeah, we compete, we share, we each bring our best, and, idealist that I am, flaming idealist that I am a night like tonight makes me wonder, even hope. Human frigging beings that we are, could we try a little harder to pull this off, more often? All the time? Okay, I'm not crazy. Not all the time. But, nevertheless, ready or not, here comes everybody!