It's an ever shrinking world.
On the one hand it means we tend to fight a little more over resources that we all need.
On the other hand, it means we have a better opportunity than ever to learn to live with each other.
I'm a big fan of the Olympics. I'm talking about an event where we get to see sports that we probably won't see for another 4 years, but with a built in rooting interest. We root for our country. We root for the human interest stories. We root for the ideal that we can all, just maybe, get along for a couple weeks.
Of course the ideal is not reality. The Olympics are bringing some of China's questionable government practices out into the world spotlight. The games are sometimes overshadowed by stories of the conflict in Georgia.
In spite of these things, sport goes on. The beauty of sport as a fan is that, for the duration of the match, game, whatever, you aren't thinking about those things. It is not a good idea to ignore what goes on in this world. But it's not a bad thing to set it aside once in awhile.
Imagine you've got a tumor in your belly growing so large that it begins to push all of your internal organs, liver, intestine, kidneys... all to the sides of your body.
Imagine that the hospital that is trying to treat you has just been taken over by a group that is likely to kill you if they see you.
Imagine that it doesn't matter anyway, since the doctors have told you there is nothing they can do to save you.
Imagine you are two years old.
This boy exists, and he lives in Iraq, the child of a Sunni family whose hospital had been taken over by Shiite militia.
On the other side of the world, in Boston, someone hears of this, a wealthy, 85 year old liquor tycoon whose own son died of an incurable form of cancer.
The world is shrinking.
The elderly fellow from Boston pays for the young boy's family to fly to Jordan where there is a very dim hope of treatment with the tumor so far advanced.
The doctors in Jordan do not know what will happen, but it is the only hope.
It is not a miracle what happens next. A miracle would be something that defies all explanation.
I don't yet believe that acts of human kindness defy all explanation.
The pursuit of athletic excellence is an ideal, just like the pursuit of global peace. They may both be fleeting things sometimes, but that doesn't mean they don't occasionally exist, even if only in very small batches.
For just a few moments, when Michael Phelps breaks another world record, for a fleeting moment he is the pinnacle of athletic excellence.
For just a few moments, when a young Iraqi boy walks out of a hospital in Jordan after treatment paid for by a elderly man in Boston, they are world peace.
The world is shrinking. And it is not a bad thing.