Yesterday, the anthems of more than 205 countries were played to the cheers of millions of people across the globe. Men and women from all walks of life, backgrounds and beliefs carried the same torch and carefully passed it from hand to hand—beginning the 31st Olympic Games. This event provides us with an opportunity—a responsibility-- to reflect upon the power and purpose of overcoming obstacles and reaching for a greater good. The Olympics, especially in these trying times, must be more than a symbol—it is a call to action. And action—every action- starts with an individual and builds to create change. That change can be positive or negative—it is up to you to decide.
In the USA, there has been a steady drumbeat of negativity over the past many months. As we prepare for November elections the drumbeat is getting louder and faster. The most heart wrenching outcome of this negative rhythm is the battle between citizens and law enforcement.
Whenever we witness violent contact between law enforcement and citizens, we feel pain and anger because we desire peace, prosperity and justice, and we also want to support the rule of law and the legitimate authority of policemen and policewomen. We are torn asunder when in truth, we all desire unity. We need to find places to put aside differences, drop defenses and allow ourselves to be at peace.
This is why the Olympic Games matter so. Its purpose is to bring us together as world citizens. And as we come together as world citizens we also have room to come together as individuals. The Olympics celebrates the highest form of human athletic achievement, but it is the focus upon virtues and unity, upon diversity and humanity, that makes it so special and critical to our continuing growth.
The Olympic Games are a showcase for human progress. Every four years, our species becomes more perfect. Each Olympics is a retelling of the same narrative: ordinary people achieving greatness before the watching world. In 2010, Canadian Joannie Rochette competed only four days after losing her mother to a heart attack, and she won a bronze medal. Who can forget in the 1988 Olympic Games, when Canadian sailor and medal-hopeful, Lawrence Lemieux, abandoned his race to save the lives of two competitors who had capsized? Michael Johnson in 1996 not only won two gold medals, but set two world records in doing so. In those same Olympics, despite injuring her ankle on her first vault attempt, Keri Strug stuck the landing on her second go, helping the U.S. Women beat out Russia for the first time in Olympic history. And in 1936, of course, in Berlin, Germany, in front of, Adolf Hitler, Jesse Owens won four gold medals.
Most Olympic heroes emerge suddenly from obscurity, and not all the heroes are medal winners—an interesting parallel to life, and to battles won and lost. Many leaders and champions work for decades to become overnight successes. We must keep that in mind as we push toward out beliefs and goals. In 1984, the Swiss marathon runner Gabriela Anderson-Schiess tottered over the finish line crippled by heat exhaustion, but she finished nonetheless. And remember Derek Redmond, the British runner specializing in the 400 meters? He tore his hamstring halfway through a semi-final race in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. A favorite for the medals podium, Redmond refused to give up and rose to finish the race despite his intense pain. But the most memorable moment came next, when the runner's father leapt over the railing from the stands and helped his son complete the race. Steps from the finish line and with the crowd cheering them on, he let go of Derek, so his son could cross the finish line by himself.
It is in those moments of effort, and compassion, and community, and sisterhood and brotherhood, that we feel most proud and human. And it is in the hard, frightening and cruel moments we must remember we are human.
The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or “swifter, higher, stronger.” Let us embrace this challenge as individuals, as the LegalShield family. Our crusade demands it.
LegalShield is special because of our unity and diversity, just like the Olympics.
My name is Jeff Bell, and I am just getting started.
We are LegalShield, and the best is yet to come.