I am always thrilled to embrace the feeling of world unity that is magnified by the Olympics. Witnessing that possibility of universal love and cultural understanding, existing in our modern society, brightens me as much as watching the actual events. Of course, I recognize this is not quite as vibrant an awareness for some as for others, but it still gives me hope.
The truth is, when I think about intolerance, I often think, what’s the point? Who cares if someone is different from you? Or their lifestyle choices offend you? Why do we care about what someone else, who is not personally hurting you, is choosing to do? Being a person who lives freely as themselves is a hard gig at times, and we all know that, so why do we choose to make it harder for each other?
Perhaps I’m naive, but I am confident we all want to experience love and avoid suffering. Who am I to say the way I choose to do it is better than anyone else’s? I don’t actually know that it is; I mean I’ve experienced both love and suffering, as I suspect everyone else’s path has revealed to them. My path isn’t perfect; no one’s is, and yet we still judge people from our imperfect path on the one they chose for themselves. Again, I think: What’s the point? Why would anyone want to cause someone else suffering? Would they want someone to cause them suffering? I simply don’t get it.
If a person chooses to reflect on their life through the filter of a specific ideology, that’s their choice, but why is it not alright for someone else to choose their specific beliefs or ideologies. Who am I to say mine are better for everyone? Everyone is a lot of people! What’s the point of intentionally trying to minimize someone else’s choices or actions, or ultimately their life? Forming those hurtful judgments of others impacts the whole of our society, but that level of non-acceptance, and anger, and vitriol, lives in the cells of the person spouting it. Who does that serve?
I was reading an article in Psychology Today on altruism, or selfless giving. The focus on the article was about altruism born of suffering. The article went on to explain that we, as humans, sometimes turn our suffering, our trauma, and our pain, into altruistic acts to prevent others from experiencing them. We use our pain for the good of humanity, to spread love and avoid suffering. What I find curious about this is that when I really allow myself to ponder this concept, it seems to me that we either choose to turn our traumas into altruistic behaviors or we use them to create suffering around us. Think about this: A child is repeatedly physically abused by a parent. Their entire young existence is marred by memories of the psychological torment, as well as, the impact that type of aggression and lack of life tools created within them. They are set back emotionally, as they did not learn proper coping tools, or positive ways of handing situations. That person either uses their life to help others avoid that same fate, or they benignly focus on their own existence, continuing to torture those around them, and themselves, with their inappropriate and ineffective life tools. They either find a sense of love and service, or they stay dormant within their shell of trauma, victimizing themselves and spreading their suffering to others.
I wonder what would happen if we let the Olympic spirit drive us? If we could see another person’s value in their efforts, and their humanism, rather than in the path they are on to reveal it. If we could understand that our judgments and anger don’t drive our world to a better place where love grows, but rather, it breeds suffering.
We are all entitled to our opinions, but we need to remember that they are just that, our opinions, and they are not facts. What would happen if we went beyond this, and embraced our path without the need of insisting it’s the only viable one? There is love in the air; it’s always there, and we can use it to supercharge our lives, and perhaps even embrace our altruistic spirit, so as to serve others in an attempt to ease their suffering.