Olympics 2020 kick off on July 23 – one year delayed, and in a city where most residents feel the Games are an imposition. If both things are unlikely, then there is an even more unlikely – but fairly significant – aspect to this celebration of human sporting excellence. The International Olympic Committee added a word to the 127 year old motto of the modern games.
“Citius, Altius, Fortius – Communiter” which translates to “faster, higher, stronger – together”
The significance and sensibility of Community came to the fore in the last 18 months – in a once in a generation manner. But there is more to the IOCs move, I believe.
In five key ways, the importance of community has come to the fore in recent times
- In teams, at work: As the disruption continued into the second year, systems & processes were replaced by individuals and teams working in exceptional and selfless circumstances to ensure that colleagues are supported and clients served. Business Continuity and crisis management models were enhanced by model behaviour as managers sought to do the right thing
- As a family member, at home: The nuclear fabric was tested to the last fibre as family members had to find composure & patience – in addition to space and flex-time…. To be able to match the demands of home-schooling, elder care, domestic chores and essentials food & drug supply-chain management while delivering a full day at work / school
- Within the neighbourhood: Frustration ran high when residents welfare associations were deemed to have overreached with the imposition of Covid-safety regulations. India devolved (still does) into a coalition of districts every time new lockdown regulations were imposed. But we found a way to stay within the guidelines and yet use the freedom we got through the “Unlocks” to step out of home responsibly
- As a volunteer: The plight of the lesser-privileged, the migrants, the daily wagers wrenched our hearts – and we came together to bridge the citizen care and public service gaps that opened up as the nation fought on multiple domestic fronts. Food, clothing, shelter – even transportation – was offered. It was never going to be even close to enough – but I think we started to “see” that life existed outside our urban homes
- As the friends of friends network: The role that social media-enabled support groups played (especially through the second wave) in finding support, delivering help, offering succor and sharing grief was remarkable. We all have stories of how we got information, shared AI-driven tools, channeled Twitter & WhatsApp updates to those most in need. Through each of these heart-wrenching stories, there were instances of pure human kindness that give us hope for the future
The Olympics 2020 comes along at such a juncture – more meaningful than if they would have happened as planned last year. Because, in July 2021, we are all people who understand deeply what it is to work as one community, to share – as well as to use every opportunity to celebrate the human spirit as one. We can truly go higher, be stronger, work faster only if we come together as one.
Black Lives Matter. Long-ignored environment & social concerns matter. Investments in science matters (thank God for the vaccines). Doing business the right way matters.
The Olympics have again captured the zeitgeist by ingraining the importance of community to their motto. Communal thinking will be the centerpiece of good governance, management and public service in the future. We survive, as we have in the past, by channeling our spirit of community. Individually, the odds may not be that favorable (with apologies for misquoting the Hunger Games motto).
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