We have to finish this race!
I think many of you will recognize these words spoken by Abbey D’Agostino of the United States when she stopped to help another runner, Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand, who had also fallen during the 5000 meters heats at the Olympics. They were strangers to each other. And then Nikki returned the favor by helping Abbey towards the finish line when she was struggling at the end. Very dramatic and touching!
But how many of us will get beyond the visuals of the drama that was being played out on a television screen and consider how these circumstances relevant in our own lives.
I think it is difficult to get beyond the constraints of ones own selfishness and think truly in terms of the human family. Even if we are simply not thinking about our own well-being and protection, and perhaps even glory, we are most likely thinking about others only the context of their relationship to us as family or friend (or enemy), or maybe even in the context of community and country. We care more about the well-being of those we know and those we can identify with rather than that of the stranger, right? There are times that I have wondered why we pray only for the soldiers in our own armed forces at church? Do we think of the soldiers on the other side as being less human, of not having the same problems that ours have, of not going through the same thoughts and struggles that ours do? I am sometimes haunted by the number of times I have walked away from something bad that was happening to a stranger without offering a hand in help. It was none of my business, and I could always find a way to try to push the guilt into the recesses of the mind, and to memory cells that would hopefully not be reawakened.
We can tell ourselves that it is a natural state of mind for humans to care more about the people you know and love and can identify with. But this is also a selfishness in some form. Unless we can find a way to truly expand our love and care to the family of all humanity we will continue to be mired in the destructive ways of the world. I know that this is fantasy that is not going to happen, and that I am being naive in even bringing up this topic, but the incident at the Olympics reminded me that there is a spark that is present in some people, even if the number of such people is a minuscule minority on this planet earth. Surely such people have the instinct and ability to do what is right in other circumstances also, not just in the glare of an extravagant sporting event.
Are we able and willing to help the strangers among us?