Why I will carry the Olympic torch
By John Caldera
As the eyes of the world turn to San Francisco during the Olympic torch relay on Wednesday, April 9, 2008, as an official Torchbearer and longtime peace activist, I am writing to solicit peace within San Francisco, the only City in North America where the Olympic torch will stop on its way to the XXIX Summer Olympic Games.
There are those who would speak out against the atrocities of human rights violations in Tibet. These protesters have every right to speak out against anything they wish, however, the moment any protester resorts to violence, the violence would belittle and demean any peaceful message they would intend to convey. It’s very sad how easy it is to spew hate when you wrap yourself around with a blanket of ardor and zeal versus how much harder it is to seek common ground and learn to accept people who are different from ourselves.
We live in a very troubled world, a world post 9-11, and a world where currently many countries are at war. If we expect the human race to survive on our planet, we need to all learn to get along better.
The history of the human race is filled with atrocities man has done against his fellow man. It is a world where it is far easier to destroy something than it is to create, craft and bring honor to something. I believe the Olympic Torch relay and the Olympic Games themselves represent the best of what the best of us can accomplish through commitment and effort.
Athletes have trained for most of their lives to compete against other Athletes from across the globe regardless of color, creed or class on an equal playing field, not on a field of battle.
Some say the opposite of love is hate, but I believe the opposite of love is indifference. Indifference to the plight of others is a terrible thing. What’s going on in Tibet is terrible, what’s going on in Darfur is terrible, but there are a lot of terrible things happening in our own back yard. Hate crimes still happen and gang violence is on the rise and with it, the homicide rate rises as well. Still, I also believe the companion to love is hope. I have hope for a brighter future for mankind and pray for peace and good will to all men and women as well as for our very precious environment, atmosphere and earth.
I view the coming of the Olympic Torch to San Francisco as an honor for our City, wouldn’t it be convivial if we were honorable hosts and showed the rest of the world that San Francisco truly is a world-class City that can rise above the dissension to promote peace and understanding through the Olympic Torch relay and on the field of competition that is the Olympic Games.
As someone who is openly Gay, HIV+, Latino and a US Navy Veteran, I have learned to respect the many subsets of our society. At times, I agree to disagree with those who have conflicting ideas or ideals than mine and at times, through respect and discourse, mutual understanding is possible but in the end I always remember the immortal words of the great humanitarian, John Lennon: “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”
I look at the opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch as an honor of a lifetime and I dedicate my run to each and every human being with HIV/AIDS because I know the torch you bear and I as I run I will remember each and everyone who was taken from us by the AIDS virus.