“While events are happening, we cannot know whether, in time, they will turn out to be fortunate or unfortunate for us. So many situations that people had thought fortunate have, in the end, been the cause of their undoing, while trials have proved, in the long-term, to be very beneficial! So we cannot judge happiness or misfortune at the time; we have to wait before we can decide.
So, when you are faced with a situation, pleasant or painful, make a habit of telling yourself that happiness could be waiting at the end of the road. Don’t waste your time complaining or rebelling; thank heaven instead. In saying ‘thank you’, you free energies within you that will help you to face things. Yes, that is the power of saying ‘Thank you’: it tackles the obstacle as it arises, and when sadness, anger and discouragement are beginning to distill their poisons in you, it neutralizes them. What humans need most is to love and be loved, to give love and receive love. And the truth is that they have a greater need to love than to be loved. Yes, to love, because it is their love that makes them alive and inspires them to go forward. To love is the greatest source of blessings. This is why you must never prevent your heart from loving: love all of creation, all creatures, always seeking how best to express your love.”
– Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
Norman was a white man from Australia, a country that had strict apartheid laws, almost as strict as South Africa. There was tension and protests in the streets of Australia following heavy restrictions on non-white immigration and discriminatory laws against aboriginal people, some of which consisted of forced adoptions of native children to white families.
The two Americans had asked Norman if he believed in human rights. Norman said he did. They asked him if he believed in God, and he, who had been in the Salvation Army, said he believed strongly in God. “We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat, and he said “I’ll stand with you” – remembers John Carlos – “I expected to see fear in Norman’s eyes, but instead we saw love.”...But then Norman did something else. “I believe in what you believe. Do you have another one of those for me ?” he asked pointing to the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the others’ chests. “That way I can show my support in your cause.” Smith admitted to being astonished, ruminating: “Who is this white Australian guy? He won his silver medal, can’t he just take it and that be enough!”… Four years later at the 1972 Summer Olympics that took place in Munich, Germany, Norman wasn’t part of the Australian sprinters team, despite having run qualifying times for the 200 meters thirteen times and the 100 meters five times. Norman left competitive athletics behind after this disappointment, continuing to run at the amateur level.
Back in the change-resisting, whitewashed Australia he was treated like an outsider, his family outcasted, and work impossible to find. For a time he worked as a gym teacher, continuing to struggle against inequalities as a trade unionist and occasionally working in a butcher shop. An injury caused Norman to contract gangrene which led to issues with depression and alcoholism.
As John Carlos said, “If we were getting beat up, Peter was facing an entire country and suffering alone.” For years Norman had only one chance to save himself: he was invited to condemn his co-athletes, John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s gesture in exchange for a pardon from the system that ostracized him.
A pardon that would have allowed him to find a stable job through the Australian Olympic Committee and be part of the organization of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Norman never gave in and never condemned the choice of the two Americans.
He was the greatest Australian sprinter in history and the holder of the 200 meter record, yet he wasn’t even invited to the Olympics in Sydney. …Norman died suddenly from a heart attack in 2006, without his country ever having apologized for their treatment of him….“Peter was a lone soldier. He consciously chose to be a sacrificial lamb in the name of human rights. There’s no one more than him that Australia should honor, recognize and appreciate” John Carlos said.
“He paid the price with his choice,” explained Tommie Smith, “It wasn’t just a simple gesture to help us, it was HIS fight. He was a white man, a white Australian man among two men of color, standing up in the moment of victory, all in the name of the same thing”.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist.
We’re all in it together, folks. Admittedly, there are not many examples people have these days for taking that kind of a principled stand. Everyone is so damn afraid of speaking up and putting their neck out on the line since everyone is obsessed with their own self-interest and selfish comfort so nothing gets done. Even harder now, I think with market forces, globalization and crazy politicians putting the squeeze on all of us, but I’d like to think that because souls like Smith, Carlos and Norman existed, there’s nothing to say souls like that have disappeared from this Earth.
That kids, is an example of someone who only wants to share his love.