It's that time again. Yes, schools across America are starting a new year, and summer is coming to a close. But the time I'm talking about is the special sporting event that happens only every four years – the Summer Olympics.
Even amidst all the complaints and concerns surrounding this year's Olympics, I still find myself overcome with excitement and childlike giddiness. There are so many problems in our world right now: terrorism, fear, hatred and destruction. Even when surrounded by such crises, the majority of the world can put aside their differences for a few weeks where even those at odds with each other can agree to disagree and celebrate. What could be more beautiful than millions of people coming together to support one another? When I think of unity, I think of the Olympics.
For a teenager who has never known what it's like to travel through an airport without being x-rayed for concealed weapons or feeling aware of the daily threat of possibly confronting crazed psychopaths with bullets, the Olympics are extraordinarily special. They symbolize hope. Hope for a more peaceful earth. Hope for a world filled with unique, inspiring individuals that chase their dreams with integrity.
Of course, the Olympics are also a time to cheer on your favorite athletes with the same degree of ferocity that accompanies the Super Bowl. Watching competitors twisting through the air or slice through water is always entertaining. The strength, dedication and determination of these Olympic athletes is inspiring and would continue to inspire, even if they didn't win gold.
From cereal boxes to television commercials, our country proudly shows off our top competitors with pride. And once again, the Olympics demonstrate their powerful ability to bring people together. There are no divisions between Americans about which team is stronger because the one and only team that represents the United States is cheered for by all of America.
How incredible it is that over 80 countries with diverse cultures, languages, beliefs and politics can come together.
How beautiful it is that we can stop fighting, just for a little while.
Why do I love the Olympics? Because when it comes down to it, they are more than just competitions between the world's top athletes. They are a chance to embrace those we do not pass on the streets in our everyday lives. It's easy to get wrapped up in ignorance. But, once every four years, ignorance turns to interest. This ability to open eyes and hearts is the real power of these games.