It deeply saddens us to post this. There has been an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Our thoughts and prayers, united, go out to all of the people in Boston today, especially those injured or killed in this tragedy. The Boston Marathon itself was inspired by the 1896 Summer Olympics and is today an internationally renowned race where runners from all over the world gather to run. Violence is again disrupting peace in a world sporting event intended to bring people together. For all those without peace today, not just in Boston but throughout the world, know that you are not forgotten and you are not alone. Your struggle for peace reminds us of our callings to do what we can to see that peace is nurtured in a broken world.
In memory of the lives lost on September 11, 2001 in the brutal terrorist attacks against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Eleven years later, we ask the world, but especially the United States, to remember the victims of 9/11 and of all acts of violence in support of an ideology. May we never cease to work towards peace throughout the world.
On the anniversary of the deaths of the members of the Munich Eleven, our team would like to take a moment to pause and reflect, not just to remember the deaths of eleven men, but also to celebrate the lives of eleven athletes who came to the Olympics to compete in a spirit of sport and of fraternity.
While we commemorate their deaths, remembering the Munich Eleven is primarily about life. Working against violence is a timeless value, and promoting peace should be a daily activity, not only a marked occasion. Instead of confining our remembrance to the Munich Eleven, let’s remember all people who’ve been injured while promoting a spirit of peaceful dialogue among nations and people from different backgrounds.
It is important to remember their deaths so that we can more adequately work in the service of life. As Ankie Spitzer said, “Let us remember what happened in Munich, so that it will never, never happen again.”
– The team at the Munich Initiative
The Olympics have finally concluded with a very literal bang and a roar of pop music following the spectacular and hotly-discussed closing ceremony. While they’ve left behind some glitter, they’ve also made a lasting mark on the participants and the international community.
This year’s Games in London were a celebration of multi-culturalism and dialogue, literally symbolized in the Closing Ceremony by the crowd of athletes that marked the celebration’s beginning – no marked divisions existed as the athletes chatted, mingled, and snapped photos.
But if the games were about multi-culturalism and dialogue, that was within the context of a new, hip, younger generation, the same generation to which the athletes themselves belonged. The Olympics this year, as stated by Jacques Rogge, were dedicated to inspiring a generation. While the International Olympic Committee undoubtedly intended many things by that slogan, the Olympics managed to do what they do best and were inspirational in a few ways that weren’t intended, including in inspiring a group of young people from Washington, D.C. to take up the cause of eleven Israeli athletes who were killed in an attack in 1972 that had soon been destined to become all but forgotten by youth in the United States of America.
While our initiative wasn’t exactly inspired by the athletics, we were drawn forward by what we saw to be the common spirit of Olympic togetherness that is ultimately at the heart of the Games.
Although our group didn’t achieve the minute of silence for which we’d been asking, we did create and revive dialogue about the events on September 5, and moreover, about violence and terror as global phenomena. According to Ankie Spitzer and the Israeli Minister of Sport, the movement towards a minute of silence this year was the greatest that it has ever been, and we were proud to be a part of that.
The Olympics provide a moment when everyone is focused on one global event. While our movement has been criticized for taking the Olympics and turning it into a platform to commemorate a cause, I don’t see any need to disparage the term “platform.” Rather, in this case I see it as a fitting use of the one time that everyone is gathered as a global community to commemorate something terrible that happened at the Olympics, and moreover something that continues to happen in the context of a global neighborhood in almost every part of the world. It’s an event that happened within the Olympic framework, and as such it’s a platform that fits just right into the global stage.
Perhaps the greatest lesson that we learned from the Olympics is that global dialogue is possible. Maybe not the world fraternity that we’re striving for right here and right now, but a step in the right direction. Six governments and people from every inhabited continent were mobilized into action on behalf of the families of eleven slain athletes in the spirit of the Olympics. The Olympic family drew together to commemorate those whose lives had been lost, and in doing so proved that while the eleven Olympians may have been killed, a spirit of global fraternity and comradeship in celebration of what we share in our common humanity remains very much alive.
– Chelsey Sterling