As many of you know, I don't own a TV, so I ended up watching the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies a day late online. I'm not usually much of a sports fan, but the Olympics are the great exception.
As I watched the Parade of Nations in the Opening Ceremony, I was primarily struck simply by how beautiful all the people were. Here were all these people, from so many different nations and in so many different styles of dress, all gathered together and in peace.
It was one of those moments that really restored my faith in humanity. And made me think that, for all its issues, the Olympics really does live up to its purpose sometimes.
I'm sure most of you have heard something of the controversy surrounding this year's Olympic Games in Beijing. One of the best things that's come out of these Olympics is the renewed media attention to the ongoing genocide and humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan. China continues to be one of the leading purchasers of Sudanese oil, as well as a covert supporter of the Sudanese government responsible for the continuing genocide.
Over 400 Olympic athletes and former Olympians from around the world have joined Team Darfur
, a coalition of athletes dedicated to raising awareness of the genocide in Darfur and to bringing it to an end. You can see a list of specific members and their home countries here
. (They even have a member from China, which is awesome. The American team has 72.)
The American flag in the Parade of Nations was carried by Lopez Lomong
, which not only restored some of my faith in humanity, but even some of my faith in my country. Lomong is a 1500 meter runner and a former "Lost Boy" of Sudan, and he was chosen by a vote of team captains to bear the American flag for his team, just 13 months after becoming a citizen himself. He is also a member of Team Darfur, and wants to use his visibility to bring attention to the suffering of people in his home country. (Check out his bio here
and a more in depth look at his story in his own words here
It's been a while since I've felt really proud to be an American, but these athletes, our Olympic team...that's something I really am proud of.
Quote for the day:" When we were in Africa, we didn't know what was there for us as kids--we just ran. God was planning all of this stuff for me, and I didn't know. Now I'm using running to get the word out about how horrible things were back in Sudan during the war. Sometimes these things are not on CNN, so if I put out the word, I hope people can get the information. Right now, similar terrible things are going on in Darfur; people are running out of Darfur, and I put myself in their shoes."
- Lopez Lomong