This is part of what my horoscope said today (thanks so Servane!): “Should your mood evolve further into dark reflections or doomsdayish daydreams, your best antidote is to step back and unashamedly laugh at your own melodramatic tendencies. The dark will always be here, periodically shadowing the light with its ever-impending scythe of mortal impermanence. Greet it, then: ‘Hello, there, dark. No, I haven’t forgotten you’re lurking. I just already have plans to be stupid and silly and rebelliously not-serious for this next little while. I’ll get back to you when my schedule permits. Later, dude.’”
I have to admit that even my friend Ken called me out on my “last post as being heavy” but today we’re going to an inspiring and happy place, a place where deeds are based in fairness and personal integrity, an awe inspiring place where double rainbows come out and bird song accompanies symphonic compositions devoid of painful dissonance, and beauty clears away the dark ugliness that is draining all of us.
A year and a half ago a cross-country race was being run in Burlada, Navarre. Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was running second, some distance behind race leader Kenyan Abel Mutai – the bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics – who mistakenly pulled up 10 metres shy of the finish line, presumably thinking he had already crossed. Fernández Anaya could have easily exploited Mutai’s mistake to claim victory yet he guided the latter to let him cross first. That Fernandez Anaya is 24 years old is only important in the possibilities of his examples of good conduct will offer all of us in the future. His words after the race resonate in a sportsmanship all too lacking in contemporary society: “But even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn’t have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”
And so I dug around the life moment playground known as YouTube for other examples of gut wrenching, heart tugging personal integrity and humanity (shedding lots of good tears in the process) and offer you these three additional videos:
This, from the Barcelona Olympics and this one from a football (soccer) match between teams in the Ukrainian Premier League and this one, not of sports but of a boy in Oslo, Norway and ‘just like the rest of us’ Norwegians doing the right thing (and some clearly not).
We think heroism is a vague concept assigned to people with larger than life lives – that’s not true, each of us are extraordinary in our own way, and the tiniest gestures have impact – the pebble in the pond of goodness. My friend Servane, in one of her TEDx Talks here, says something really important – something easy to remember and act within – “Love is a political weapon.” (Whoa), and because of her words I thought of this meme that is making its rounds, of another athlete doing something political because he and his teammates see the suffering in Gaza and can make a grand gesture to draw attention to the plight ordinary Palestinians experience everyday – even as we all know that $9 Million USD is a drop of water against a desert of despair caused by Israel’s apartheid policies.
Fernandez Anaya mentioned the future gains for his name in the context of branding in his post race interview but in the visceral moment doing the right thing wasn’t a strategic business decision of “if I do this, I will get that” but humanity shining through brightly like a beacon of hope, of kindness, of how we wish to be treated and simply doing. It was the 4th of July in the United States yesterday – the celebration of our nation’s birth (something like the Arab Spring but 238 years ago). The last line of the Declaration of Independence reads: “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” The best that we as Americans once had to offer the world were these ideals, every man, woman and child across the human experience should be free from ignorance and self indulgence, the destruction of our world and each other from greed, anger and fear. So today, (and tomorrow and all the next days after those) no matter where you call home, no matter where you aspire to live remember that without our mutually pledging to each other our lives we should not think ourselves as living well but merely existing. To whatever God to whom you pray may s/he watch over and keep you in the light.
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