Something about this olympic commercial rings a bell in my head. Maybe it’s the dramatic music or the regal voice of Morgan Freeman, but the statement “maybe it’s simply that they are human, and we are human…” resonates. Why is that?
I look at the excitement in the eyes of people watching the various olympic events, and of course, there are those patriotic types who are moved to cheer only when their flag is raised or when their anthem is played, but as the commercial speculates, there are also those who cheer when an athlete crosses the finish line, when a world record is broken or when success is achieved past the struggle of competition regardless of nationality. In essence, these two are the same, the only difference is in what they find their greater identity. The former finds national identity as the more important avenue to enjoying vicarious success, and the latter finds more connection in the fact that the person striving for success in the stadium is a fellow human being. But more than the fact that us viewers take joy in identifying with success, it is interesting to see that we take the effort to identify at all. Why do we do that? I think it’s more than just wishful thinking to be as good an athlete as the gold medal olympian. It seems that we sense deep inside that we are deficient of performance, in whatever area of life, and watching the success of a fellow human being gives us a sense of hope… hope that maybe we ourselves can be more than who we are now. Hope for a greater performance, hope for a greater success, hope for a greater significance. Ironically though, every time the olympics are over the euphoric effect of the vicarious victories inevitably dissipates. Maybe the effect lasts a little longer for some than others, but eventually, we live, we forget, and we realize the lives we have… still deficient of performance, and maybe even of being. The successes of the olympians are exhilarating and it temporarily quarantines our imperfections, deficiencies, and failings into the recesses of our minds “simply [because] they are human” like ourselves. The return, whether swiftly or slowly, inevitably comes, also “simply [because] they are human” like ourselves. Then the question remains… How do we hold on to the euphoric effect of the vicarious victories? How do we make it so that it does not dissipate? Maybe Morgan Freeman wasn’t entirely correct. Maybe for our hope to live on, for our vicarious success to remain, maybe we need something more, something more than “simply human.”