The other night I was having a conversation with a friend about where he grew up and how people in his community are so sheltered. The gist of the conversation was on how people living in more rural communities in the US tend to be more conservative and fear or even hate people who are different. My response was, it's really about exposure. Once you get out, whether that means education, traveling or broadening your social network, your world grows, it blooms, it becomes richer. He was saying that even exposure to Jewish people is minimal where he's from. But, once you meet someone that is different from you and you experience a positive exchange/interaction… whether that person is from a different country, or of a different ethnicity or religion or sexuality, your initial beliefs may turn into respect and understanding. I find that a variety of friends makes my life richer. I wouldn't want to hang out with only white, originally from the east coast, straight, 38 year old progressive woman. That actually sounds unbelievably boring!
So, what does the Olympics have to do with this? I watch the opening ceremonies and think, look at these amazing athletes from all over the world. Some grew up on estates, some in modest apartments, to say the least. They are all different ages, from all different religions, different experiences, different languages. But they are all there because they are determined, and the best at their sport in the entire world. And, that enough should bond them. And, therefore, bond the participating countries. A lesson that we should all question the stereotypes we have, the fears we have of others, the phobias we have and learn about others. Travel, get out of your comfort zone. It's well worth it!
GO USA! I hope by watching the Games, even if thousands of miles away, people from all over the world hear stories of grit, determination, endurance, strength and become more open to the differences that really make this a better world.