It’s not just the Olympic Games’ governing bodies that are working to assure a clean Olympics, now the “athletes have taken part in grass-roots movements demanding that the Olympics stay true to their ethical values, especially fairness to fellow competitors” (“Olympic-class athletes find their voice of integrity,” CSMonitor.com, Dec. 6, 2017).
It’s so encouraging to hear how these athletes are pledging to present a drug-free event. And it’s likely that a strong ethical stand for fair play means the Games will attract greater support and a wider audience.
Yet, strong ethics and consistent honesty in the Olympics have a much greater impact than just the effects they may have on crowd sizes and revenues. That’s because in such significantly substantial ways, honesty and integrity, wherever expressed, bless people’s lives. Pure honesty expresses a deep respect for one’s neighbor. In sports, this includes respect for one’s fellow competitors. Honesty is an expression of love and it contributes to the kind of competition that gives all participants fair opportunities to contend.
But honesty is also good for the individual expressing it. For some time a friend of mine, a professional athlete, used steroids. The day came, though, when he turned away from them completely and never looked back. His career is even more successful now and, for many years, he has devoted his time to helping other athletes. His happiness is truly off the charts.
The turnaround in my friend’s experience makes sense to me because I understand honesty to be more than just the right thing to do as a good person. It is actually a quality that expresses our spiritual nature as sons and daughters of the Divine. In her key book on healing through a spiritual understanding of God, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Honesty is spiritual power” (p. 453). More than just goodwill, then, the spiritual power of honesty is evidence of the presence and influence of God, or good. The expression of genuine honesty brings spiritual light – spiritual good – to the world, strengthening it through God’s active goodness.
On the other hand, the perceived rewards of dishonesty are ultimately a big disappointment. In the long run, nothing beneficial results from selfishness and immorality. When people adulterate their ethics and integrity, they’re making the mistake of believing that good can be found in that which is not good, that which is not pure and therefore not of God.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). A heart that is pure is honorable, loving, and honest. But is goodness something that some possess and others do not? While it seems that way, Jesus’ healing ministry evidenced the opposite, proving so clearly that goodness, purity, and honesty are natural to man as God’s spiritual expression, and that the dishonest or immoral individual can be reformed through understanding this true nature. In such cases, the spiritual power of honesty, having its source in God, good, can be felt immediately by anyone who turns away from deceit and toward the light and strength of divine goodness – just as light shines immediately on the face of someone who turns toward the sun.
At their best, the Summer Games and Winter Games can be a showcase of good morals and ethics, but that clearly hasn’t always been the case. We can help the athletes value honesty and discover the spiritual power that goes with it, through prayer that acknowledges that all the participants are children of God, and therefore are created to express man’s true purity.
While an Olympic medal can mean so much to athletes who have trained for many years, living a life of integrity is a rewarding victory in itself, and one that all competitors have it in them to win.