Olympic Swimmers Example for Selfishness

[Note: Multiple levels of chaos in my home have prevented me from writing for the last several weeks. If you looked for something new from me in these weeks, I apologize.]

The 2016 Rio Olympics are coming to a close. We have watched Ryan Phelps swim like a Merman, Usain Bolt race across the track with fleetest feet, and Simone Biles twist and turn in gymnastics in ways no human body normally moves on her way to Gold. Even beach volley ball and soccer left us in awe of the abilities of the many athletes.

Not all gold medal winners left us with feelings of awe. The men’s swimming 4x100m relay was magnificent to watch, as Ryan Lochte and his team mates swam to win the gold medal. Unfortunately, their drunken celebration led to problems at a Rio gas station, a false police report, and trouble with the police. Ryan skipped back to the U.S. out of reach of the Brazilian courts, leaving his three team mates to face the judge.

The behavior of this swimming team casts the United States in a poor light when we should be able to shine and feel proud of our athletes and their Olympic performance. It is beyond sad that the selfishness of four has hurt the respectability of hundreds of other athletes.

This behavior is symptomatic of the behavior of too many people, not only in the United States, but throughout the world. Too many people put their selfish wants and desires above those of others. I see it daily on the roads and freeways as drivers weave through traffic, putting everyone else in danger, to get down the road faster. Families are denied housing because of their financial status, regardless of their ability to pay. People help themselves to their employers financial accounts, enriching themselves at other’s expense. Others take with little thought of gratitude, expecting what is not even theirs by right.

Businesses are no better. I have seen banks take money from small account holders, attempt to steal homes using false claims of non-payment, and destroy individuals and companies as they manipulate their accounts. Other businesses compete with banks in their lack of treating people humanely.

This week in California, homes were burned along the San Bernadino mountains, and while the owners of the homes at risk for burning were forcibly evacuated, looters entered their home and stole their things, using the truck of the home owner to transport the stolen items. I haven’t heard of looters in the Louisiana flooding, but I am sure some selfish people have looted homes evacuated due to the flooding.

What is it about our world today that makes so many people so incredibly selfish? How is it that so many consider only personal wants without thinking how their actions may affect others, sometimes lots of others?

In almost every facet of life in the United States, selfishness rules. I can think of few places where altruism and free gifting of one’s self is the rule, rather than the exception. Some individuals and groups try, though none have succeeded completely.

I believe there are individuals and families who seek to be more giving and less selfish. I also believe that goodness will grow and perpetuate as the few good people work to be examples of unselfishness to the many who are unselfish.

It is a personal decision. On which side will you stand? Will you choose to stand against selfishness, showing kindness for cruelty, goodness for selfishness? Or will you choose to be a part of the problem? You cannot stand on the line, it is too thin. You must be part of the problem or part of the solution.

How do you stand against selfishness and cruelty? What will you do to be part of the solution? Perhaps you can seek to be a little less selfish, a little more grateful? I look forward to hearing how you plan to stand up for goodness.