The Official Winds eNewsletter
© March 2002
A Road Rarely Traveled and Much Less Desired
~written from the common sense perspective of The Winds of the Soul~
by Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.)
|But there is a valuable lesson here for all of us, if we would only heed it, and it's not the one that may readily come to mind for most of us. Except for the obvious, there could have been yet another outcome, one that would have heralded a forgotten brand of hero of which we all, and especially the Olympics, sorely need to be reminded.||
What with economic payoffs and under-the-table deals resulting in the dismissal of a number of Olympic Board Members even before the 2002 Winter Olympic Games started in Salt Lake City this year, and the marching in of the tattered U.S. flag flown at the fallen World Trade Towers in the opening exercises, these world class games have not been without controversy. And then on the night of the Finals for the Pairs Figure Skating competition (2/11/02), yet another controversy erupted. In what had been heralded as highway robbery from the Canadian media and most others, the Canadian team appeared to have been politically obstructed by the judges themselves from being awarded the Gold Medal and instead given the Silver. The Gold was given to the Russian team who by all accounts did not skate as well and apparently knew it; the awards ceremony proving most uncomfortable especially for them. Later, and as of this writing, reports of the French Olympic Figure Skating Judge being under pressure from her own National Committee to scheme and unfairly reward the Russian Team (without the Russian Team's immediate knowledge) for a quid pro quo in another event began to surface. To be sure, this was a sad day for the sport of Figure Skating and an insult to those competitors involved, who only asked for fairness and honesty. Perhaps, this is just another indication of the waywardness of our society and our declining morality where anything can be bought for money and the promise of power.
But there is a valuable lesson here for all of us, if we would only heed it, and it's not the one that may readily come to mind for most of us. Except for the obvious, there could have been yet another outcome, one that would have heralded a forgotten brand of hero of which we all, and especially the Olympics, sorely need to be reminded.
In order to explore this in more detail, let me first take you back to another sporting event which I believed happened some 15-20 years ago. This episode of heroism was so unique that I think they may have even made a movie about it, although it perhaps never made the world stage. If I remember correctly, it occurred in the Special Olympics, those complementary games especially organized for the mentally and physically challenged.
© Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.). All Rights Reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, including but not limited to all forms of media print, audio, electronic and video reproduction, without the prior express and specific written conent of the author, except in cases of t brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Stunned by what they were seeing, the crowd suddenly quieted and grew to a hush. All eyes were on those still on the track. As if communicating in some unknown capacity, each runner looked to the unfortunate competitor who had dropped his baton, waiting for him to retrieve it. Everyone else holding to their position, only the runner who dropped the baton moved, retrieving the implement and then once again taking his place in his respective lane. As if choreographed in unison and obviously following the beat of some unknown drummer, and only after everyone of the competitors was ready, they all took off again down the track.
It involved an event that took place in Track & Field, a relay race wherein each member of a team of 4 individuals would hand off the baton to one of their teammates after completing their leg of the race. By all accounts, it was an exciting and inspiring race already when the fourth member of each team took off down the final stretch, each clutching their team's baton in hand. The crowd was excited and shouted their encouragements from the grandstands. It may have been the excitement of the moment, or the fact that the sun shown dazzlingly bright in a crystal clear azure blue sky that day, or simply a moment of fumbling that can overcome any of us at any time, especially if 20,000 fans are watching you and cheering you on. And so it happened that on this day one of the runners in the race lost hold of their baton, slipping from their hand and falling to the ground. Like the rules for any relay event in Track, a runner could not proceed any further without their baton securely in hand, and it was no different for the Special Olympics. Accordingly, the Special Olympic runner stopped in his tracks, a look of terror and sadness washing over his face. He knew he could not proceed any further without this needed token, and was now likely out of the race, having disappointed his teammates and all that supported him. But then, something extraordinary happened. Something that no one expected....
Amid all the excitement of the moment, and as if by some unknown, silent, and unseen cue, all other runners, too, stopped in their tracks and proceeded no further. Even though their coaches, support teams, and the crowd itself yelled in frustration for them to continue the race without disruption, the runners appeared to heed another voice instead. Stunned by what they were seeing, the crowd suddenly quieted and grew to a hush. All eyes were on those still on the track. As if communicating in some unknown capacity, each runner looked to the unfortunate competitor who had dropped his baton, waiting for him to retrieve it. Everyone else holding to their position, only the runner who dropped the baton moved, retrieving the implement and then once again taking his place in his respective lane. As if choreographed in unison and obviously following the beat of some unknown drummer, and only after everyone of the competitors was ready, they all took off again down the track. Resuming the competition without further mishap, each of the competitors honorably finished the race to the disbelief of the crowd, the coaches, and support members.
As all the runners crossed the finish line with baton firmly in hand, the crowd went uncontrollably ballistic and wild with joy! Everyone was blown away! Their excitement proved beyond immediate containment. Such cheering and yelling, such happiness and wonder overtook everyone that witnessed such an event. It was an incomparable moment of emotional resonance. I don't think there was a dry eye in the stands, or for that matter, on the field that day. Tears flowed. People hugged and kissed. Hands wouldn't stop waving and clapping. For the spectators, the joyous celebration gained in momentum, going on and on as each new wave of understanding of what was just witnessed began to penetrate more deeply, and more and more of what just happened began to be better realized.
|There were no losers that day. Each runner was a legitimate, brave, real, and honest-to-goodness Olympic hero. These were now "special" not because of their particular challenge, but because they demonstrated a remarkable asset and advantage over the rest of us. There was nothing "handicapped" in what they did. It was exemplary, if not perfect. Each acted in a way that few of us would have in the heat of the moment whenever we even feel competitive. But these brave few, these certain few, all knew what to do, and without hesitation, did it for all to see.||
Like a freight train, it hit them. Something so touching, so moving, so unexpected, had occurred before their very eyes. And they were swept up with it to heights rarely experienced by most of us. They just witnessed an act of sacrifice, courageousness, honor, and fairness of Spirit that was beyond what most of them could ever think of spontaneously doing on their own. They witnessed an alternative action rarely known or practiced in our mentally "normal" and "unchallenged" world. Indeed, it was likely unprecedented. I'm not aware of this ever happening before, or of such ever happening since in a public sporting event where winning is everything.
There were no losers that day. Each runner was a legitimate, brave, real, and honest-to-goodness Olympic hero. These were now "special" not because of their particular challenge, but because they demonstrated a remarkable asset and advantage over the rest of us. There was nothing "handicapped" in what they did. It was exemplary, if not perfect. Each acted in a way that few of us would have in the heat of the moment whenever we even feel competitive. But these brave few, these certain few, all knew what to do, and without hesitation, did it for all to see. Despite their mentally challenged conditioned, they seem to know better than we what was really expected in the event of life, no matter the expectations of those around them or the history of more "popular, rationalized, and acceptable" choices urged on by others. They saw a different set of priorities and yielded to a different set of rules already written upon their hearts, connections to which they did not ignore but happily and obediently embraced. What a day that was! What a lesson for all of us!
And what exactly is the point I'm trying to make here and what I feel is the real moral of this story, you may be asking? To make this even more salient, let's now return to the unfortunate turn of events at the 2002 Winter Olympics and the tragic results of the Pairs Figure Skating Finals....
Now, I don't know much about the world of figure skating or the sport itself, except for the fact that when world events and money combine, there will always be the possibility of nefarious activities and back-room deals. This apparently happened with some of the judges involved who threw their conscience away and voted dishonestly. This of course shouldn't have happened. But it did. True enough, most of us are faced with "unfair" things happening all the time in life, either to us personally, or to others we know. Most of us would agree that if the Olympic judges were to be found guilty of collusion and graft, then the original contest should be re-evaluated, which would in all likelihood result in the awarding of the Gold Medal to the Canadians and the Silver to the Russians. I understand that there was also some talk of simply awarding another set of Gold Medals to the Canadians as well. At the time of this writing, no decision from the International Committee has been made. And even if any of this were to happen, the contest itself has been so tainted and the reward reduced in such measure and value, that it would never be the same as if one were to win cleanly without controversy. So what to do, or better yet, what could have been done differently for the participants fairly and without discrimination.
|Just as the answer for those participating in the Special Olympics did not lie in the hands of their respective Olympic committee but in the participants themselves, so did the answer for the present controversy. There was something that could have been done, a choice made that would have made those participating heroes, every one. And what would that specifically have involved? Well, most simply, the Russian team had an opportunity to become something even greater than Olympic Gold Medalists, but they chose the path of least resistance instead.||
Just as the answer for those participating in the Special Olympics did not lie in the hands of their respective Olympic committee but in the participants themselves, so did the answer for the present controversy. There was something that could have been done, a choice made that would have made those participating heroes, every one. And what would that specifically have involved? Well, most simply, the Russian team had an opportunity to become something even greater than Olympic Gold Medalists, but they chose the path of least resistance instead. And to be fair, that's probably the road most of us would have taken as well if we were in their situation.
But just think of what would have happened if they did something else more daring, something almost unprecedented in Olympic history! Specifically, can you imagine what would have occurred if they stepped forward immediately and acknowledged the glaring and obvious inequities before them (i.e. they not having skated well that night and thus were undeserving of the Gold) by refusing to accept the Gold Medal under those circumstances, deferring to the Canadians instead! In my mind, faced with the intractableness of the judges, I think this would have then become the best thing to have done. I may be wrong, but I think they would have captured the hearts of everyone around the world and have become instant heroes around the Globe. They would have never been forgotten for their act of courage and sportsmanship, demonstrating the true Olympic spirit for all to see, and for many, redefining it....
The crowd would have gone ballistic as well. They wouldn't have been able to contain themselves. They would have witnessed something good, something wonderful, something that would have penetrated their heart so fully and completely that spontaneous joy would have erupted contagiously! People would have wept and hugged each other. They would have stood and cheered and cheered and cheered. This would have been the act of true champions, unrivaled in the world, showing the way for the rest of us.
Not to fault the Russian team, for they did nothing wrong but missed a great opportunity to reach up and become something better, to do something greater. No matter that the rules and Olympic decorum would no doubt call for them to passively accept whatever is being given them, and remain sporting participants alone, they could have risen above their sport, and won something even more grand than Olympic Gold, just like those heroes just mentioned in the Special Olympics Relay Race.
And, you know, watching the Russians that evening, and how uncomfortable they were obviously feeling by stepping into the top position on the award's rostrum, I wonder if that particular alternative didn't cross their minds for a moment or two. I think it did. I want to believe that it did. They seemed so close to doing what was better. They seemed to struggle with what was right in trying to determine what they could do, but in the end simply proved confused and despondent, and gave in to the status quo of social expectancy and rationale. Of course they weren't at fault for the likelihood of reprobate actions conspired by a few of the judges and their supporting committees. Again, the Russian skaters did nothing wrong. They skated their hearts out only to see that it wasn't their night. They just missed an opportunity to have risen to a new level and do a better thing. And, don't we all do that?
Indeed, we are no better than they in missing opportunities for growth and greatness. Just like so many of us when faced with a dilemma, we often defer to the path of least resistance. We feel we have entered a "gray" area, something ill-defined and difficult to make out, and as such, we surrender to the doldrums of apathy and moral relativism. Yet, I believe that in truth of fact, there really is no "gray area" in any situation that we come across. And if we can't perceive anything but "gray" then we're just not close enough to the issues, nor have we understood all the variables present and their dynamic interchange. In my view, "gray" is simply the reality of being too distant from a situation or circumstance and not clearly understanding all there is being offered. And there's a good example of this.
|So, it is in life. When we think we see "gray" in a particular situation, we're likely just too far from it and subsequently don't understand it in its fullness. If we would only come closer and examine all the "pixels" of the experience, we would come to see how it's clearly made up of a lot of "black" and "white," or a confused mixture of right and wrong that can only be discerned at close hand. Sort out the right from the wrong and we will then see clearly the sum of the matter before us, as well the direction we should take if we're asked to be involved.||
Interestingly, in the reality of the physics of light, the color "gray" really doesn't exist at all---it simple appears to exist to the eye, being made up of small and close together, continuous bans/dots of "black" and "white." This can be quickly seen on a TV screen. The closer we get to the screen, the more clear the individual pixels become, revealing small patterns of white and black pixels. Yet, when we're at a particular distance, we simply see "gray," the black and white dots having lost their definition and becoming merged within our eye and brain as one color. So, it is in life. When we think we see "gray" in a particular situation, we're likely just too far from it and subsequently don't understand it in its fullness. If we would only come closer and examine all the "pixels" of the experience, we would come to see how it's clearly made up of a lot of "black" and "white," or a confused mixture of right and wrong that can only be discerned at close hand. Sort out the right from the wrong and we will then see clearly the sum of the matter before us, as well the direction we should take if we're asked to be involved.
Unfortunately, many of us like the "gray" in life, and in fact go out of our way to be in it. Not many of us like to discern things at close hand, preferring the relativistic state of right and wrong, and the lack of clear definition we find in it. This allows us to fudge a lot without recrimination. In fact, to the extent that we live in the "gray," or find comfort in it, we begin to fear the loss of what we think is being handed to us and could possibly be ours, even that which may be rightfully ours but yet in our possession. Then we choose not to do the best thing, but settle for the second or third thing, grabbing at life fearful that if we don't somebody else will get what we deserve, rationalizing that there was nothing else for us to do. The "gray" silence makes this all possible, allowing untold half-truths and lies to proliferate everything around us, becoming a forerunner to anarchy and chaos.
Parenthetically, there are some that say that the reality of an absolute right and wrong is just too rigid and unbending for it to be true. Truth be known, for these realities to exist, God Himself insists that there also must be mercy and justice applied within each experience, that these two must be flexible and discriminating, allowing for the full measure of "right" and "wrong" to be determined by circumstance, situation, and the thoughts and intents of a person's heart. In other words, the right and wrong of things needs to be weighted with understanding, and within the context of what is good and better (in God's view) compared to that which is bad or worse for those involved. Therefore, it is with considerable interest to learn that real leniency and clemency, when called for, can only exist when in the presence of acknowledged right and wrong. And contrary to those who argue that "grey" is good because it allows for variance, they have it backwards: "graying" things out only secures for us the absence of forgiveness and mercy (the seat of all possibilities of variance), ironically making everything around us completely unretractable and rigid, just the opposite to what they espouse.
|Those participating in the Special Olympic Relay Race were still firmly in touch with the children within themselves, still connected to the inspiration and direction given from Heaven, still preferring the blessings of such contact than anything else in the world. And as you no doubt have also concluded, the so called comfort of the "gray" life can only be experienced when we've silenced the children within us, along with the clean and well focused perspectives they have afforded us.||
This leads us to understand what the defining difference is between those athletes in the Special Olympics and the rest of us (including the Russian figure skating team). The answer is a simple one that you may have already anticipated, that is, if you are familiar with the Winds of the Soul.... Those participating in the Special Olympic Relay Race were still firmly in touch with the children within themselves, still connected to the inspiration and direction given from Heaven, still preferring the blessings of such contact than anything else in the world. And as you no doubt have also concluded, the so called comfort of the "gray" life can only be experienced when we've silenced the children within us, along with the clean and well focused perspectives they have afforded us.
That's when we make most of our mistakes in life, or miss the opportunities for greatness that are before us. Yet, this is the way the world would have us live because it is so unchallenging to the status quo. Moreover, just look what we give up additionally in the process. Just like the discomforted Russians who awkwardly accepted the prize being offered, we may accept the gold of the world rationalizing that there was nothing else for us to have done despite the languishing taste of bitterness left in the mouth. But as the years pass, such rewards will never glitter as brightly as would the more courageous action.
Unlike the rest of us, those "special" Olympians still clung to the guidance and awareness of their gentle heart, still understood the necessity of following such promptings, still retained the joy and affection by being so closely related to Heaven's voice within them. Unlike the rest of us, perhaps they have been protected from ever having been separated from these connections. That would be a blessing! Indeed, perhaps this is what makes them so "special" and why those who have contact with them cannot help but remark on how angelic they are---how, despite their limitations and handicaps, they are nonetheless so wise and knowing about the important things in life, about love and forgiveness, kindness and compassion, gentleness and sensitivity. Such consummate wisdom being manifest has led some to imagine that perhaps they are sent to us from Heaven as a special means to help us and teach us of those things we have already abandoned in life. I know many that think so, and believe as they do.
By now, many of us have distanced ourselves from the still, small Voice within us and have become impoverished of these same treasures, having exiled the memories and experiences of our own childhood, dislocating those of us who we used to be, forgetting and abandoning those intelligent characteristics first given to us by His Spirit. Unwittingly, we have thrown away the very means of our wisdom, having been taught that these particular feelings are things not to be concerned about, and in any case, can't be trusted.
How many times are we faced with making decisions, and like the Russian Figure skating team, may still feel the promptings deep within us, but have since become befuddled and confused, desensitized to the importance of its message, being persuaded by the world to get while the getting is good? How many times has it happened that we no longer hear the Voice of Conscience distinctly enough because we have cut ourselves off from those wise children within us and the Keys to the Gates of the Kingdom? How often do we allow those situations for greatness evade us, as we no longer see the "right" thing to do, no longer feel the affection for the joy of doing the "best" thing, even if it involves the making of personal sacrifices?
|We should be mindful, however, to see that many of the opportunities presented to us for growth are not often in front of an admiring crowd of well-wishers. Often, there is no immediate reward or the possibility of cheering feedback from the sidelines by our supporters. Instead, we usually find ourselves quite alone when it comes to doing the right thing.||
Just like the Russian skaters, we too become confused and often defer to the wrong voice within us. Just like the Russians, we too have missed many opportunities of doing the better thing, the best thing, and not settled for anything less. Just like the Russians, we too could have been heroes of a sort, mounting up on eagle's winds and soaring in the rarified air around us, instead of settling for the certainty of the smog that makes up most of our lives. And just like the Russians, we may not have done anything wrong but we've still missed an opportunity that to this day cries out in our heart. These are lessons for our time, for each and every one of us if we would but heed them.
We should be mindful, however, to see that many of the opportunities presented to us for growth are not often in front of an admiring crowd of well-wishers. Often, there is no immediate reward or the possibility of cheering feedback from the sidelines by our supporters. Instead, we usually find ourselves quite alone when it comes to doing the right thing. In fact, when we're given the opportunity or asked to do the better thing by our heart of hearts, our sacrifice generally goes unsung, unnoticed, or may even be diminished, maligned, and misrepresented by others, saying that what we did was stupid and needlessly useless. Moreover, it's not uncommon for even the recipients of our actions to never understand or fully appreciate what has been done for them. Although there are rare opportunities presented for immediate reward, thanklessness is more the rule than not. With such a track record, is it any wonder that such altruistic behavior is so rare?
We all face situations and trials that can be solved in an assortment of ways in life. Barring the running from our responsibilities, most solutions we embrace may be "acceptable" and "okay." But if we look for it within our heart and scour the alternatives presented, there will always be a solution that stands above the rest, offering us the chance to do something greater. Rest assured, once we wish to see the better way, the better way will become obvious to us, for the pleas of our children within us will point them out. We can then choose to perform the task at hand, making the sacrifices required with the assurances that from the same Voice within us that first gave us such direction and vision, comes the promise that there is justice in Heaven, that what we did was indeed right, and all that we did or sacrificed will be made whole in the end.
The fact that we may not be rewarded in like kind in this life should not deter us from the growth we can further experience, nor does it diminish the clarity of vision and the need to do the better thing with other opportunities before us. Simply knowing that what we did was right is perhaps reward enough---for the many children we truly are and have been will have now been re-membered and added back to us in more abundance. And so recognized, and as if by some unknown, silent, and unseen cue, they then rise up as one confidence within us and sing a song of praise, now being led and choreographed by the Voice of the Father Himself. Such joy rises within in us as waves of gratitude and validation flow from our heart. It's unspeakable. And our cup runneth over!
Seemingly unseen by others, seemingly unheard, others too who do not hear this Voice so clearly anymore, may think our actions and sacrifice strange and unprecedented. But we needn't mind what they cannot understand. Because of such proof manifested within us, we are then invited to come up and take our place alongside those honorable, Special Olympians who already sit within Heaven's banquet....
Why don’t you take a moment and become part of the discussion. Share with me your perspective, questions, and comments; tell me what you think of all this by emailing me at: DrYoung@WindsoftheSoul.com.
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About the Author: Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.) is a licensed Psychologist and Neuroscientist having been educated abroad where he completed his postgraduate studies at King’s College, the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and then graduated and received his Doctorate from the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. He has been in private clinical practice and medical research for over 25 years, being active as an author, popular radio and TV personality, public speaker, and biomedical researcher. An expert in a number of fields including Forensic/Criminal Psychology, Child/Family/Relationship Psychology, and Neuropsychology, he has also served as an expert scientific advisor, product innovator and formulator, and professional consultant to the Medical and Pharmaceutical Industries. He is the author of The Winds of the Soul~Heaven’s First Voice To Us, as well as numerous other scholarly papers and works.