What unites us?
“What keeps us together”? “What keeps us from killing each other”? “What unites us”?
“Think about it.”
Those were the words our professor had signed off his last lecture with, some 20 years ago. It was his last day at the university, an end of a 40 year career of a war hero who became a history professor. I had always remembered those words, the man had had a lasting impact on me.
When I come to think about what he said I wonder, in times like these when the world is torn by wars and hatred, is unification of such a vast population even a possibility? All our societies have some form of discrimination, be it the Apartheid, the caste system, gender discrimination or discrimination based on religions. And where there are differences, war of some sorts is inevitable.
But humanity has to hope. Because humans without hope are mere statues. So therefore humanity hopes, hopes for peace, for unity and for brotherhood . And therefore I hope.
So, the answer to ” What Unites Us”, I believe, is different for everyone. For many it is love, for some it is blood, but for me it has always been different. For me it is sports that unites us, that unites the world.
Ever seen an Israeli and a Palestinian soldier have a drink and dance in joy together? It happened in 1998, when France won the football World Cup. The first time I ever a saw a black person and a white one kiss, it was in the stands of the ‘United Center Stadium’ when Michael Jordan lifted his first NBA championship for the Chicago Bulls. When the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers met for promoting peace after a long time, it was at the Cricket World Cup in 2011. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, it tore a city apart, but over 26,000 people took shelter in the Superdome ( The NFL stadium of New Orleans) during the hurricane and the subsequent flooding. The first time a United States soldier dropped his weapons in Afghanistan, was to play a game of soccer with the local children.
The spirit of competing with each other is what actually draws us towards each other, if we tread upon the pages of history we may come across many stories in which sports has averted war; many a times men of extra ordinary wisdom have settled the quarrels of imbeciles who were at each other’s throats just by making them realize that sports was the better way to settle issues than wars. Therefore to decide the Groom of the King’s daughter, Princes now had to run and win a race instead of attacking each other’s kingdoms.
Hence sports has more than once saved lives of people. It has made lives better, worth living. It has created lasting memories, that generations have cherished over the years. It has created moments that have been etched in our minds.
Millions of hearts beat together when Messi takes the ball to the goal; millions hold their breath as the Indian cricket team is on the verge of a World Cup victory. Tears are shed when a champion falls. You cry with joy when you see your team win.
Ever watched a sport based movie and felt the urge to do something that is beyond you? Ever felt the rush of emotions when you see someone out there at the field trying to do more than you could have ever dreamt about? Ever had a dream of you being in the middle of everything, where everything depends upon you, you hear the people scream and it’s your name they are screaming, there’s inspirational music in the back ground, and you know you have to do it, for all those people, to keep them all together, to make them believe in something that is beyond them? It really is the most amazing feeling that you will ever have.
Because it changes people, transforms them, makes them believe in something greater than them.
Sports in its true spirit, brings us together, keeps us together , keeps us from killing each other and it certainly unites us all, it unites the world .