Peace, safety, and the Olympic ideal

A Christian Science perspective.

As the eyes of the world are on the 2012 London Games, the ideals of the Olympic movement come to light. The aim of Olympic sport is to promote a way of life based on the joy of effort and the ability to surpass limitations, all within a spirit of friendship and fair play. The opening ceremony of the Games always includes a symbolic release of doves as a message of peace.

The first Olympics were held in 776 BC in Olympia. The goal was to enable warring Greek city-states to set aside conflicts and come together to appreciate the self-discipline and grace of dedicated athletes. Three kings of rival states agreed to a truce period extending from a week before the Games to a week after. Thus began the tradition of the Olympic truce, which was revived in the 1990s by the International Olympic Committee with broad support from UN member nations to foster global peace and mutual respect through sport. The truce continues to inspire conflict-prevention initiatives in neighborhoods and beyond.

Yet there are serious safety concerns for the 2012 Summer Games. According to Britain’s Olympic security coordinator, “We don’t know what’s going to come round the corner, and that’s the reality.” The risks include terrorism, organized crime, and natural hazards. The terror threat to Britain has been rated as “substantial.”

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It’s encouraging that 18,000 troops have been deployed to the Games, in addition to police and private security. But aren’t there limits to what any security system can do?

In the same way that many athletes look above limiting perceptions to a higher ideal, we can look to a higher, spiritual source for safety. Folks throughout the ages have found that prayerfully turning to God, divine Spirit, is effective in protecting all right endeavors. Why? Because prayer is essentially tuning in to God’s all-pervasive presence.

A great biblical prophet, Isaiah, was a keen observer of the geopolitics of his time. In fact, he lived around the same time as the early Olympics and just on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. Having witnessed the protective power brought to bear by an awareness of God’s presence, he cited God’s message to all humankind: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

This helps me understand that since God, our Father-Mother, is infinite divine Mind, He-She is always communicating constructive and loving ideas to each individual, rather than hateful or vengeful thoughts. This defuses the fear that there could be evil human minds separate from God that could be plotting aggressive or dishonest acts, and it stops this kind of thinking and action from occurring.

Throughout the Games, we can quietly know that divine Love always meets every human need in a way that contributes to the common good. This disarms the concept that there are persons or groups thinking they need to use violence to meet their individual or collective needs, and it disarms those who may have been taken in by this kind of wrong thinking.

A while back, I had to put these laws of divine protection to the test. A man who had contacted me looking for work was so desperate for money that he started harassing me at home, ringing my doorbell incessantly and pounding on the door. Since I live alone, it was pretty scary. But I prayed with this idea from a book by Mary Baker Eddy: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 494). I embraced this assurance that God was meeting the man’s need for right employment, as well as my need for safety. The man stopped harassing me, and I’ve felt safe ever since. This may be a modest example, but I feel it shows that the divine laws of good govern every situation, big or small.

An understanding of God as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Love helps us see the Olympic spirit of peace embracing all athletes, officials, spectators, and the whole world. We can think of the summer Games as a complete spiritual idea unfolding harmoniously within divine Mind to express excellence, high aspirations, and good sportsmanship.

The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” We can be certain that God’s protective power is faster, higher, and stronger than anything else, during the Olympics and always.

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