A worldwide dream among dreamers

Jackie Valley

In a mere 24 days, the world’s best athletes will gather in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics – and if the Chinese are right, it will be a celebration of “peace, friendship and progress of mankind.”

At least that is what this year’s Olympic emblem – a calligraphy-style dancing human figure – is supposed to convey, according to the official Web site for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

The “Dancing Beijing” emblem, as it is called, seeks to extend a welcome invitation to the rest of the world, inviting everyone to share in the festivities while weaving a dream for the future.

Let’s hope it works. The world seems to be in a constant grim state, with more worldwide upheaval and tragedy surfacing every day.

More lives continue to be lost on both sides as the Iraq War wages on with no clear end in sight, regardless of what American presidential candidates say to appease voters in crucial swing states.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, 33 people died Sunday in Sri Lanka when military officials clashed with rebels during the country’s ongoing civil war. And just last week an Iranian general declared that Iran’s “finger is always on the trigger” of long-range missiles in response to perceived threats from Israel and the United States.

Need I go on?

Even so, once every two years, the global community gathers in a chosen city to participate in a broad array of athletic feats only the most skilled athletes from each country can accomplish successfully.

And, each year – like clockwork – a new Olympic hero emerges, overcoming obstacles to take home the coveted gold medal.

Take U.S. gymnast Kerri Strug in 1996, for example. Despite torn ligaments and an ankle sprain caused by a fall during her first vault, Strug nailed a near-perfect landing on her second vault, capturing the gold medal for the United States’ gymnastics team.

Or take Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci in the 1976 summer Olympics. She scored a perfect 10, becoming the first athlete ever to do so in an Olympic gymnastic event.

And then there was the U.S. hockey team in 1980. To the surprise of the world – including the United States – the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviets.

In those moments, a little bit of magic happens. If only for a minute, most spectators put aside their flag affiliations and stand in unison to witness in awe a newly crowned Olympic great or greats.

Unfortunately, rare moments such as those come courtesy of billions upon billions of dollars spent to put together the Olympic games in the host city. The media hover eagerly with their cameras and city merchants make a killing from selling the Olympic merchandise.

Ordinary times do not hold quite the same appeal for similar praise-worthy accomplishments. Sans the Olympics, small victories or miracles among nations get swept away in the day’s news.

But if past Olympic events are any indicator, sometimes miracles do come true. As cliché and naively optimistic as the 2008 Olympic emblem’s message of “peace, friendship and progress of mankind” seems, it advocates the recognition of small illustrations of hope around the world.

And, if nothing else, it prompts us to create our own dream for the future. After all, that’s what the Olympic games are all about – witnessing dreams come true. Hope does still exist, however grim the rest of the world events may appear.

Jackie Valley is the forum editor for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].