Sports has a knack of bringing us together. It unites when everything else seems to divide, and this year’s winter Olympics are no different. During international sports competitions, there is seldom any “you vs. me” - there is usually just “us”.
“Our women’s hockey team beat Canada for the gold!”
“We made it to the curling gold medal game!”
Sports seem to be inherently trivial and hold very little tangible weight in our day-to-day lives, but somehow the impact these world-wide events carry out-performs the expectations set on them. It seems that no matter what is going on at the time, regardless of someone’s politics or beliefs, tuning into the Olympics guarantees that the viewer is going to be cheering for their home country. We might not all be sitting together, but we’re united in who we are cheering for. It’s actually quite beautiful that in times of division and increased tension, there is some common ground to find as a collective.
With the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics happening this weekend, the question becomes, how do we continue to foster this unity? How do we ensure that it’s not a flash in the pan, and not immediately revert back to our divisive tendencies as soon as the games are over?
FOCUS ON SIMILARITIES
Too consistently we put ourselves, and each other, into groups. We identify with what we believe and close ourselves to everything we don’t. It’s almost as if we’re focusing only on the negatives of a person and not even attempting to look at the positive attributes they possess (they’re there, I promise).
What if we tried to stop focusing on all the things we dislike about a person, or a group of persons and instead focused on trying to find commonality? This isn’t easy, especially when discussing politics, or religion, or even sports (there are few things that breed abject hatred quicker than team affiliations), but it’s important to try if we want to continue fostering a society where we can coexist.
We don’t have to like or even agree on everything our neighbor believes – it’s probably better if we don’t, actually – but we don’t have to define them by it either. I’m not even saying we need to fully accept someone’s beliefs (hateful and harmful beliefs are always detrimental to a society), but I am saying we could stand to search for the things we share and try to build from there (a superficial relationship built on a mutual love of woodworking is better than no relationship).
LOOK AROUND, WE’RE ALL HERE TOGETHER
I know that there are a lot of things that make people unattractive to us and I know it’s unreasonable to think everyone is going to be able to get past their differences and disagreements and live happily ever after, but it’s important that we take a step back and get some perspective. Regardless of what we might believe, or what our neighbors might believe, we’re all here together and there’s no changing that.
If we can internalize that we’re all in this together, it’ll set the stage for positive outcomes in the future. Just like in every relationship, compromise is imperative to success and if we refuse to compromise, we’re effectively signing our divorce papers.
I’m not naïve. I know these are pie-in-the-sky thoughts that are much easier said than done, but we can harness some of the at-least-partial unity we’ve experienced during these Winter Olympics and move in a positive direction. Things aren’t perfect, and things definitely aren’t going to be clean, easy, or fun, but if the Olympics can teach us anything, it’s that there is more uniting us than there is dividing us.
Until next time – Hidily ho,neighborinos!