Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

My Winter Olympics meddle

BEFORE MOST OF us forget snow and ice sports again completely for the next four years, I need to take a moment to acknowledge the Winter Olympic Games in China for an important reminder.

It’s not that becoming the best at something is a mix of both inspiration and repetition—the willingness to hone your craft in countless hours away from the spotlight—though that’s true. I’m not thinking so much about the athletes as the spectators.

I realized over the past couple or so weeks (and I suspect I’m not alone in this) how quickly I became an “expert” on something that I knew nothing about. That is, after watching two couples perform in the ice skating, I was then able to pronounce judgment on all those who  followed.

“That axel was a bit wobbly.’

“They didn’t execute that turn in sync.”

“She could have landed that jump better.”

Pretty funny, but also pretty sad to hear myself pontificating on something about which I had no idea, and of which I had no experience. Call it my Olympic meddling (“to interfere without right or propriety”). Proverbs 18:2 came to mind: “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions” (NLT).

Bad enough when this sort of instant opinionating dismisses years’ of athletes’ sweat and toil just like that. But how much more concerning when it comes to matters of greater substance, be they political, medical, cultural or otherwise.

Proverbs 29:20 cautions: “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Meanwhile, James 1:19 counsels, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…” We may be quick to offer an opinion because we think it shows how smart we are, but the opposite is actually true: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs 18:28).

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