In the ancient world, when the olympics began, athletes from all over what the Greeks knew as their world gathered to compete in a completely unique event of international community. In an age where war and trade were the usual contexts for geographical and cultural boundaries to be crossed, it was pretty significant.
By contrast, I’m afraid, this year’s olympics signify to me some very depressing things – and forgive me, because I am really not an excited Londoner – a huge amount of taxpayers’ money gone on an event a lot of people are excluded from because they’re not rich enough. And an event many other less well off countries would have benefited far more from than we will.
However, there is one silver lining that makes me slightly less curmudgeonly about the whole thing – the hundred days of peace movement that has arisen with it.
A hundred-day truce across all participating nations meant the early olympic athletes could travel safely to take part in the games and return home again, hopefully with laurel or olive wreaths of victory.
This year, in solidarity with all those countries and people who do not have peace, a collaboration of London’s Catholic dioceses and organisations are upholding their hope and prayers for peace for hundred days.
It begins tonight with a prayer vigil at St Martins in the Fields on Trafalgar Square. The vigil starts at 11pm and runs all night til an 11am celebration service tomorrow with the Bishop of London, the Archbishop of Westminster and other London church leaders of different denominations.
A fun thing you can do in solidarity with those without peace is upload a little video of you (your friend, your child…) moving across the screen from left to right in any way you like, to this CAFOD site http://passiton.cafod.org.uk/ – and add a message of peace.
It’s a small thing, but a little bit of a movement for peace – a movement to show we’re not apathetic: we want peace. Something so hard to quantify or find a fail-safe method for, but I guess something valuable and intangible about prayer and about messages of solidarity is that the attitude we choose for ourselves is what matters. I wish I could make peace and justice for people, but at least I can show I want it. And we can be showing that lots of people want it.