And with a final fanfare this evening, the flame will be extinguished and another Olympic adventure will come to an end.  I’ll admit it – I’m captivated by the pageantry, pride, thrill of victory, and yes, agony of defeat of the games.  My heart skipped a beat on several occasions when competitors had unfortunate falls.  Teammates and rivals, for a brief moment, forgot about allegiances or winning and losing, and instinctively offered support out of concern and human kindness.  

Empathy trumping all – that’s the lesson I’ll take away from these games.  I can’t speak for others, but I know sometimes I get so focused on my own agenda, I forget the “competitors” are really on my team, doing the best able given mounting frustrations and concerns.  I also forget how my words and actions can do more to divide us than unite.  I unintentionally fan the flames when I should be working to extinguish them. 

Try to remember this week that in some way your family, colleagues, students, parents, friends and strangers are all on the same team.  For the more we are able to approach every situation with greater empathy and understanding, the easier it will be to work through our differences in a healthy manner.  Spring Break is on the horizon and tensions are high – in schools, in homes, and in the nation.  So, when faced with conflict, take a deep breath and look for the common ground.