A story has recently come from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Lebanese participants blocked Israeli Jews from getting on a bus. Lebanese athletes were already on the bus and they refused to share.
The Lebanese team in these Olympic games will always be remembered as the people who kept the Jews off the bus, and that will overshadow anything else they do. It’s all about a brief conversation at the door of a bus.
This is one of those issues that will never go away. In our times, stories are recorded and published, and the interesting ones stay with us forever. Nothing can be done in a corner anymore because informal news comes from cameras in cell phones, and it travels quickly to the whole world, through venues like Twitter and You Tube.
For official journalism, this incident happened at the Olympics, while the whole world was watching. The popular saying is ”all eyes are on Brazil.” The Olympics always attract large numbers of news reporters who desperately need something to write about. And especially for these games, the world is oversensitive about Muslims behaving badly. There is a great concern about Islamic terrorism.
Into that mix add the Olympic spirit, where nations that could be at war put their differences aside and compete in a friendly and civilized way. Most people in the world can think of someone they don’t like, which is why the Olympics were invented. We all compete peacefully and fairly, and we show respect for everyone else.
Openly violating those principles is jarring, especially coming from invited guests who are visiting someone else’s country. There have been calls to send the Lebanese team home. Their bad judgment shows that they do not understand the modern world, where a brief conversation can become world news, in a few hours.
So what does this incident teach us?
Prejudice is everywhere, and it can no longer be kept secret. Chauvinism and prejudice that was unchallenged for centuries is now hitting a wall of opposition. Most of the world does not tolerate behavior that used to be common in small villages. Now we can’t hide our actions and there is no isolation; the cameras are everywhere.
The Bible says “have nothing to do with the unfruitful actions that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are.” (Ephesians 5:11). We are not told to criticize, just to expose so that people can form their own opinions. Exposure is easy now, with a camera on every phone, and every phone connected to the Internet.
In our wired world, we are all approaching a judgment day where nothing can be hidden or explained away, and this revolution will shake the world. Most people don’t know that the world has moved.
I’m sure the Lebanese team missed the point.
As Jesus promised: “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! ” (Luke 12:2-3) We are there now.