Interlude: I've been watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. As I write, I'm watching the relay of the Flame, from the gate to the Cauldron. I missed the first hour of the broadcast but caught the end of it, and the Parade of the Nations.
I'm weeping. I LOVE watching the nations of the world - some countries I've never heard of (with one, two, four athletes only); I was struck by the ineffable beauty of the faces, the diversity of shape, of color, of eyes and noses and lips. I loved seeing the standard bearers of each county waving their breathtaking banners.
I caught my breath to see Yao Min (7-1/2 feet tall!) carrying the Chinese flag -- accompanied by a tiny nine-year-old boy, who was given that considerable honor because of his bravery: in the horrendous earthquake those few months ago, his school was destroyed. He lost many of his classmates...but was himself responsible for saving the lives of two of his classmates. The narrator said he'd been asked why he did go back for them, and he had replied that he was a Hall Monitor, it was his responsibility. He was proudly waving a tiny Chinese flag in one hand and a little Olympic flag in the other. He was moving to keep up with Yao Min -- he barely came to the top of the athlete's leg.
I was moved to tears, deeply, by the slow and stately raising of the Olympic flag with its familiar colored circles. As it caught the breeze and swelled out, I could think of only one thing: why, if all these people can manage a few hours' peace together (although it may disintegrate come morning) why can't everyone keep it UP?
I write children's fairy tales: maybe that's why I CAN imagine a day when, in every single country of the world, on a given day, a flag might be run up a flagpole bearing a white field with five stars: red, yellow, black, white and brown.
I guess it won't be in my lifetime.