A song of peace for their land and for mine

Column 2/23/18
February 23, 2018
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February 23, 2018

A song of peace for their land and for mine

It feels like the Olympics is all we’ve heard about in the last month. Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t get away from it.

All the talk about the Winter Games seems to fall into two extremes: either all about world peace or about proving our national supremacy.

The two sides are so different you might think there are two different events happening: one to unite the world and one to divide it.

During the Feb. 9 opening ceremony, athletes from over 92 countries and spectators from around the world came together in a show of unity and goodwill.

Hundreds of performers came together to signify peace in the shape of a dove as singers called the world to “Imagine” the nations united.

But since the flame was lit, the Olympics have taken on a very different tone. Friends debating which athlete is the greatest. Sports commentators giving their predictions of who will win. And every TV in The Den and residence halls spitting out the latest country to claim the gold medal.

How soon the songs of peace and unity have changed into national anthems celebrating the victory of one nation over another.

It’s not hard to agree with Dr. Brenda Schoolfield, a professor in BJU’s history department, that sports are “war by other means.”

It’s always interesting to look up the lyrics of other countries’ national anthems to see how they portray and celebrate themselves.

Most patriotic songs share the same basic elements. They often draw from a historical event to illustrate that particular nation’s greatness. A one-sided view is what we’d expect in a patriotic song because their very purpose is to celebrate one nation and its people.

But originating from one of Finland’s national songs, “A Song of Peace” (also known as “This is My Song”) does much more than celebrate one nation.

Written by Lloyd Stone and set to the tune of “Finlandia,” (the tune we know as “Be Still, My Soul”), the song walks the line between patriotism and a longing for peace.

Its lyrics speak to the beauty one’s homeland but also acknowledges the beauty of the entire world.

“My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine,” the song says. “But other lands have sunlight too and clover. And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.”

The author also speaks of the deep feelings of ownership we all have for our homelands, but he quickly balances those feelings by acknowledging others have the same feelings for their homelands.

“This is my home, the country where my heart is: here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine. But other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.”

A love of country is good. It gives us a sense of belonging and connects us to our neighbors. But good turns to evil when our pride make us think that ours is the only country worth loving and celebrating.

As a staff, The Collegian joins with Lloyd Stone in his acknowledgement of the beauty and worth of both our homelands and countries around the world.