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An exhibit at the Museum of London today made me reflect on one of the popular symbols of humanity’s aspiration for unity – the torch. The Museum is home of the Olympic cauldrons that contributed to the spectacular opening and closing of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Most of us may remember the splendid design consisting of 204 petal torches, symbolizing all the countries participating in the Games. The petals came gracefully together, all differently shaped, to form one single torch burning steady and bright throughout the Games. During the closing ceremony, the fiery bud blossomed and all petals unfolded back displaying their unique and mesmerizing individual beauty.
Photo: © CFPC, 2014
That reminded me of the years when I volunteered as an organizer of my home country’s branch of a torch peace relay. A flaming torch was passed from hand to hand, from person to person, from heart to heart across over 100 countries and five continents. It was not limited to athletes, not even to those who were fit to run. People could walk with it, could cheer for it, could just hold it and extend a thought of goodwill or say a prayer for peace and friendship – children and adults, sportsmen and people who had no affinity to sport, people from the local authorities or passers-by. The torch was a symbol of humanity’s common aspiration for peace, understanding and oneness.
As it crossed state borders, it crossed prejudices. As it passed along the streets, it connected neghbourhoods. It was not just a sports event. Along the route children organized exhibitions, prepared songs, wrote messages for other children in distant countires, expressing their wishes and dreams for a peaceful world. People from all walks of life – sportspersons, musicians, humanitarians, and politicians took part in the peace events along the route. Never did anyone raise doubts about the necessity of such reminders, never did any share a stance that a goal of oneness is unachievable, that it is just a chimera.
As it crossed state borders, it crossed prejudices. As it passed along the streets, it connected neghbourhoods.
Photo: © Peace Run International
What is it that holds humanity strong in hope in spite of the brutal present-day world realities? What is it that makes us always look for that flickering light? It is because light negates darkness and everything we associate it with? Is it because fire burns equally bright no matter whether it is carried by a white hand or a black hand, by a Christian or a Muslim? Or because it can kindle countless of other flames without losing its own light, giving birth to inspiration, motivating people to transcend barriers, connecting them? What made humans take the Olympic torch 220 miles above the earth? Astronauts did not only bring it to the International Space Station but took it out during a spacewalk and held it up against the serene hypnotizingly beautiful image of our blue planet at the background.
The reflections on these instances make me think – it is human… not to lose hope.
[Head photo: ©The Eternal Peace Flame, Oslo – Peace Run International]
Blagovesta Troeva works at the Department of English at New Bulgarian University, Sofia. She obtained her first Master’s degree in British and American Studies at Sofia University, Bulgaria. While her career develops in the field of foreign language teaching, she also has profound interests in human rights, anti-discrimination, inclusion and learning difficulties. She has completed the Erasmus Mundus Special and Inclusive Education – a joined Master’s programme of the University of Roehampton, London, Oslo University, and Charles University, Prague.