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The Olympics don’t have to be the only time our world unites

There are few common languages we share in this world. Sports is one of them, and the Olympic Games arguably constitute the most beautiful display of unity when our countries come together and celebrate something we all love and share.

Article by Michael Bailey July 14, 2021 //   4 minute read

There are few common languages we share in this world. Sports is one of them, and the Olympic Games arguably constitute the most beautiful display of unity when our countries come together and celebrate something we all love and share.

Throughout the opening ceremony, the medals, the tears, and the celebrations, the Games are a clear display of what our world can look like when we see past our differences and rather celebrate our common humanity.

Yet sports don’t have to be one of the only things that unites us. As fellow humans, it should be our moral obligation to care about what happens across the world and to desire the best for each of us. And there are certainly global issues taking place today we should care about.

I encourage all sports fans who plan to watch the Tokyo Olympics this July and August to view this coming together with a broader lens than just athletes competing for the gold medal. It is up to each of us to ensure that the beauty found in the Olympics is not something we just reserve for the duration of the Games.

At the Bush Institute, we address the most pressing domestic and global issues facing us today. We believe the world is a better place when each of us is given the opportunity to succeed.

Since 2014, we have worked in Burma, also known as Myanmar, and engaged young leaders who are working to advance democratic outcomes in their transitional society. On Feb.1, a tragic military coup took place, and, to this day, the oppressive military regime continues to promote fear and violence among its people, threatens human freedom, silences free speech, and halts all democratic progress made in the country.

In a statement, former first lady Mrs. Laura Bush said, “Free nations have a duty to stand with the Burmese people. It is our moral obligation to speak out against violations of human rights like the ones on the streets in Yangon and other cities.”

In Afghanistan, we engage women and equip them with the skills and knowledge to be more effective leaders. With the recent decision regarding U.S. troop withdrawals from the country, the gains and progress that women and girls have made over the past 20 years are under serious threat. Uncertainties for their future are fueled by fears of the past when women were abused, silenced, and under constant threat from the Taliban.

In a recent letter to Congress and the Biden Administration, the Bush Institute, along with a number of undersigned organizations and individuals, said, “It is in our national security interests and our moral responsibility to support gender equality, human rights, and peaceful development in Afghanistan.”

These are just two examples of global issues among certainly a longer list existing today, but they provide timely examples of the troubling challenges our fellow humans are facing. As our countries head into the exciting events of the Tokyo Olympics, we sports fans should not forget that we are entering this time together with very different situations.  

At the root of everything, we are fellow humans. I encourage each of us to take time to care and take time to imagine.

Imagine what our world would look like if each of us had the opportunity to be the best version of ourselves. The Olympics is a definite example of what that beauty can look like when we unite through common humanity, but it certainly doesn’t have to be the only time.