I, LIKE millions of others, watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. I enjoyed it and will enjoy much of the sport as well. The commentators mentioned that this was the third time the Olympics has been held in London. They talked about the 1948 Games quite often, but I did not hear them speak much about the 1908 Games, which was a very important Olympics. Just before the 1908 Games opened, Pierre De Coubertin (the founder of the International Olympic Committee) quoted from a sermon he had heard the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania deliver in St. Paul’s Cathedral a few days before. In that speech Pierre De Coubertin laid down his enduring vision for not only the Olympics but also for all sport. His vision has become the informal motto of the Olympics: “The important thing is not to win but to take part” and is now called ‘The Olympic Spirit’.
He realised that not everyone can be a winner. For every gold medallist there are hundreds of people who tried to win that medal. All of them have struggled and put in hours and hours of training. Many have dedicated years to the goal of appearing in the Olympics and few of them can win a medal. But they all have practised, and at the end of the event the winner and the other athletes shake hands and they all congratulate each other for being there. They all realise that the others have put in a lot of effort too to become better athletes.
However very few commentators finish the quotation from the talk and from the sermon. The complete quotation is “The important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” The struggle is true in life too. We cannot all be winners in the journey through life, but we all have to fight and put in effort to become better human beings.
Many folk are (and will be) inspired by the competitors in the Olympics. We have also been inspired by other people (parents, teachers, friends) in our journey through life. Can each of us do our best to inspire others (just as Jesus inspired people) to be better human beings?
ALAN C.D. CARTWRIGHT
(Minister of Fogo & Swinton with Ladykirk with Leitholm with Whitsome)