8.10.2008

Hall Passes and Priorities

I have a new role model.

He’s brave. Practical. Adorable. Self-assured. Polite. Poised.

Amazing.

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.

Amazing.

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.

Can y’all?

7 comments:

Miss Attitude said...

As CJ knows, I'm the anti-Olympics junkie. But when you put it like that, it's touching and inspirational.

perpstu said...

I don't watch very many of the events and certainly not the Olympic ceremonies, so I'm glad I can view wonderful things like this through your eyes!

Karen MEG said...

A special boy indeed, I didn't know that little guy's story.

I guess the thing I think of when I'm watching is the Chinese people themselves, their pride in their country and their ability to put this together. And not their government or their highly questionable policies. I don't necessarily agree with all of my government's positions, but it doesn't mean that I don't love my country.

And this despite me being really pissed that they got these Olympics over my much greener, cleaner, and more generally more globally responsible home town. No, I don't hold a grudge ... not really ;)

citizen jane said...

karen meg -- well put. I'm also trying to focus on the people and their pride of country and of self. And the physiques of the male swimmers.

What. I never said I wasn't hanging out in the shallow end of the pool...

PS: Your hometown is gorgeous. Toronto, right? Was there last summer and really want to go back.

April said...

I'm glad you're enjoying it all so much! I have to admit, I'm having a hard time finding any Olympic spirit, but I generally have it on in the background, so maybe something will spark me soon!

CableGirl said...

What an incredible kid. I never heard that story (but then again I don't really watch the Olympics). Sometimes people really do show you that the human race not all self serving...

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

My Swedish daughter is here right now so I haven't been as involved in the Olympics and didn't know the story.

Fabulous story and wonderful kid.

Can HE run for President?