Samantha-Kaye Christie (Jamaica) on Using Olympic Values to Inspire More Humane Development

August 13, 2012

Recently I stumbled upon the line “Keep your head and heart going in the right direction and you will not have to worry about your feet.” It was after encountering these powerful words that I realized that values are an important facet of successful living. Pierre de Coubertin, who championed the cause of the Olympic values, spoke of three important values: excellence, friendship, and respect. The twenty-first century has expressed that human beings have an inherent need to create development. However, the problem surrounding the issue is that this development is usually defined by superficial rewards that are ingrained by socialization. While this pursuit of “excellent development” is prominent in the twenty-first century, it is chased so vigorously that it sometimes tramples upon the maintenance of friendship and respect. The concept of excellent development is understood in this era as advances in areas such as economic production, academia, and sports. This pursuit of excellence has produced some unglamorous results. The internal benchmark that denotes personal and corporate fulfillment is noticeably missing from our world. One of the reasons for this is the influence of the lack of a shared set of values that promotes sustainable development. The aforementioned values should in some way embody this concept of sustainable development. This argument does not aim to diminish the importance of aiming for excellence in these areas, but it wants to highlight the need to incorporate higher regard for friendship and respect. It is when these become integrated that the concept of excellent development becomes more meaningful…more human.
In recognizing the importance of these values, they must be fostered to augment their constant use. Learning has, however, taken place predominantly in institutions with an inundated curriculum. This creates a situation in which people are often not motivated to learn and by extension not motivated to adopt what is imparted. A more effective system is the introduction of an extra-curricular club that can be implemented at the school or community level. A number of entertaining team-building activities that utilize sports, quizzes, and essay competitions can be used with the latent aim of teaching these values. The creation of Olympic Fortune cookies with phrases such as, “diversity should be celebrated, not just accepted or tolerated” (respect) or, “none of us is as good as all of us” (friendship) can be distributed worldwide and become a symbol of imparting values in the society. Of course, such implementations would need to be sensitive to age and spoken language. Also, it is important to understand the monumental role that the family plays in socialization. The use of family forums can be implemented to teach parents effective ways of inculcating these values.

I dream that one day we will realize that placing more importance on the inculcation of values can be used as a tool to reduce the number of social ills in the twenty-first century. What if we took the values of excellence, friendship, and respect more seriously? What if we vigorously pursued this cause? …What if?
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