As I watched the opening ceremony of the 31st Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, a couple of things stood out to me. For one, I liked how all of these different countries were able to put aside their politics and differences and come together as human beings. People are people no matter which country they’re from, what they look like, or the color of their skin. The Olympics celebrate that.
Sure, the athletes who are there are there to win, to give their best in their sports, and to represent their respective countries. But there’s something about coming together with other countries that unites us, that reminds us we’re actually not all that different from each other.
I really liked how Rio put a different spin on the Parade of Nations by allowing the athletes to mingle with those from other countries if they wanted to — instead of being forced to stay with their individual countries.
It could be argued that as Americans, our athletes are there as the American team and, therefore, should stick together as a team. But humanity surpasses teams. As people, we are all part of one team. Yet too often, we lose sight of that fact.
The other detail that stood out to me was that two things transcend culture and language: A smile and laughter are both universal. They’re clearly understood no matter what language you speak or what cultural background you come from.
That’s a good thing to keep in mind as we go through our day-to-day lives. We’ll encounter people who may speak a different language or come from a different culture or even be going through something we can’t fathom. But they will understand a smile, and by sharing one, maybe we can brighten their day.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"