The Beijing Olympics in 2008 were the first Chinese Olympics ever held.
There were many “firsts” in that particular Olympic, but one of the most unusual was the lack of any American runner on the podium after the relay races.
Relay running was first introduced into the Olympics in 1928, and TEAM USA had been on the podium at every Olympic since then, usually awarded the gold medal.
But there were none at all in Beijing.
Outside Jamaica, most of the fastest runners in the world that year were American, but most unusually they had no medalist in either the men’s or women’s 4×100 meters relay.
Again and again the spectators in Beijing and around the world heard the eerie sound of a hollow aluminum tube hitting the track.
The American runners had dropped the baton.
The US teams had the speed and the strength; they were brilliant individual runners, but they had not mastered the art of the handoff.*
The American malady at the Beijing Olympics is a parable of a far deeper problem affecting many of us today. As individuals and families, the question becomes, are we passing on our legacy from generation to generation?
How we answer this question has profound affect on how we live our personal lives, and how we nurture the values and traditions of our family — from generation to generation. Each of us is an important link in a chain and what we do in our lives and with our lives directly affects our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great, great grandchildren. And each of our legacies, yours and mine, blended together forms the very fabric of our society.
Unfortunately we have become a one-generation society.
Every generation (about a 30- to 40-year span) wants to discredit and distance themselves from the previous one and start their generation with a clean slat. But that’s a remedy for disaster.
We often think of legacy in terms of possession, money, or wealth. But as the old saying goes: the deepest things passed down in families do not appear in the will. Faith, Character, Values, Memories, Traditions, Continuity, Solidarity is what’s really passed down from generation to generation—sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.
So the question is,
What are you and I doing in our lives and with our lives that we intentionally want to pass on to our family and our family’s family?
By God’s grace, and some purposeful thinking and really hard work, let’s not drop the baton. Generations are depending on it.
Living On Purpose,
Ken L Roberts
*Excerpt from Impossible People, by Os Guinness (one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long, long time).