We honor and love our Olympians. It's a true celebration of life and civilization. Before, all Olympians represented a country. Current world events have dictated that it is now necessary to recognize Olympians that do not have a country, and this year's Olympics have taken an honorable first step.
What nation are you from?
Once upon a time, one had to be from a nation to be an Olympic athlete. Now--not so much. Per the UN, the total number of forcibly displaced persons worldwide is 65 million people. The number of people who have no nation to even call home is 10 million.
For those of us who grew up in comfortable suburbia, with its running water, electrical service, and functional toilets, this should activate some some empathy gene. But for the most part, it doesn't.
So it's interesting that for the first time, the Olympics recognized stateless athletes that are worthy of Olympic competition. Their stories are partially told here by the New York Times.
But as important as the recognition of these deserving athletes is, we still have the opportunity to completely miss the point: That there are 65 million people who probably don't share your access to water, electricity, and sanitation. That you care about the Olympians in this scenario is great--would you now consider caring about the rest of them?
Moving from the have-nots to the haves
The Olympians are going to get recognition and economic opportunity--but most likely, no other stateless refugees will benefit from this publicity. That's a tragedy of the highest magnitude that only you can help resolve. So think about how you might do that. Lives may be involved.
More on refugees: