Like many families, our family has been watching the Olympics closely. We are a family of three teams: U.S.A., Ukraine, and Refugees. Like many around the world, we are rooting for a Syrian refugee swimmer by the name of Yusra Mardini. As have a great many people, our family has fallen in love with her and are deeply and profoundly moved by her story.
Novelist Herman Melville wrote, "We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects." Watching those ten refugees reemphasized that connection. It put names and faces and lives to the stories we see on the news. They moved from being "refugees" to flesh and blood people before us and, in so doing, make us look not only at them during this competition, but to really see all of those they represent: not a country, but countries that they cannot return to. Watching them, I was filled with compassion for them and hoped that others were as well. Watching them, I prayed that people who are against refugees coming into their countries, would feel a change taking place within themselves. I prayed they would no longer view refugees as a "them" but as an "us."
"I want to inspire everyone that everyone can do what they believe in their hearts," Mardini told the media and she is doing just that even if she doesn't win a single medal. "We are encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams."
"When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:33-34, ESV).
"For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NAS).