I have a new role model.
He’s brave. Practical. Adorable. Self-assured. Polite. Poised.
His name is Lin Hao. And he’s nine years old.
You might have seen him, walking along side the uber-statuesque Yao Ming as the Chinese Olympic delegation entered the stadium during the Opening Ceremonies.
Lin (or is it Hao -- I can never remember which is the proper way to shorten a Chinese name) isn’t an athlete. He’s much more than that, in my opinion.
He’s a survivor of the horrific Sichuan earthquake that devastated the country and the world, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale and killing over 70,000 folks. When the ground began to shake, Lin was sitting in his second grade classroom, being a typical kid. The quake caused the school building to collapse around him and his classmates. Lin was one of the lucky ones, able to survive and free himself from the rubble -- but that wasn’t enough. He went back into the perilous site and was able to bring two of his peers to safety, encouraging them to sing to help keep up their spirits until rescue teams could reach them.
When he was asked why he did what he did -- risk his life to help his pals -- he said, very matter-of-factly, “I was the hall monitor. It was my job to look after my classmates...”
There’s a lesson here, y’all.
This Olympic experience is not without its issues -- China has a horrific human rights and environmental record, tainting their role as a gracious host; an American tourist has been killed (although that seems to have been determined to be an isolated incident); the passionate American Winter Olympian Joey Cheek was denied a visa at the last minute because of his outspoken position on the atrocities of Darfur (see China’s horrific human rights positions).
I’m an Olympics junkie. I will watch just about any event - love the spectacle, the sport and yes, the sportsmanship. Even with all those outside factors clouding the pure enjoyment for me this go-'round.
But Lin Hao has helped assuage the guilt pangs of my cynical, liberal soul. Kid’s got his priorities in order. Thinking of others in so many ways. Keeping a cool head in the midst of crisis. Being nonplussed about the entire thing.
We all need to be each other’s hall monitor -- making it our job and our joy to look out for one another. And giving each other a hall pass when necessary.
I can think of no greater honor or responsibility.