In Pope Francis’s historic address to the United States Congress last September, he spoke about the Golden Rule:
“This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”
His remarks came to mind when I saw that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will allow a team of refugees to compete in the Olympics. “By welcoming the team of Refugee Olympic Athletes to the Olympic Games Rio 2016, we want to send a message of hope for all refugees in our world,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.
I cannot begin to imagine what horrors refugees have lived through, but this is a perfect example of the Golden Rule. These are people who, in normal conditions, would be competing at an elite level but because of war, terror, and famine they have had to flee their country and take up refugee status, along with over 20 million other people.
The Golden Rule transcends political and religious differences. It is one of the primary principles for moral decision and has existed for thousands of years, being found in various cultures and religions. The organizers of the Olympics put themselves in the shoes of the refugee athletes and are showing them the compassion with which they themselves would want to be treated. In doing this they are not just offering them a chance to compete in a sporting event, but also letting them know they are not forgotten. It may not bring them home, but it may bring them hope.
Cover Image Norman Rockwell Mosaic “The Golden Rule” by Flickr User United Nations Photo, via Flickr Creative Commons, available here.