Global relations are often rough. Peace, reconcilliation, and brotherhood are fantastic, but too often what we see is disagreement, suspician, and hate glossed with a veneer of BS. So far it doesn’t look like the US Olympic team is part of the veneer, having decided to have Lopez Lomong carry the US flag into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony. Why does this matter?
You have to hand it to the Chinese Communist Party: They certainly know how to muzzle Americans. Cheek, a Princeton grad, might have held a seminar. Four billion people around the world will see Lomong carrying our flag.
Far more than that, untold millions of people, in the next few days, will hear Lomong’s life story, in his own words. In a half-hour monologue here on Friday, just 10 hours before he was to carry the flag, Lomong told a tale of grief, endurance, redemption and almost unimaginable hardship that captures in human terms every aspect of the Darfur tragedy. And without Lomong saying a single “controversial” political word, he highlighted China’s culpability by cynically supporting the Sudanese regime as partner in the vast oil company PetroChina.
The story is incredible and heart-rending. Here’s just part:
During a Sunday morning Mass 17 years ago, the 6-year-old Lomong, along with about 100 other children, was taken at gunpoint from his parents, driven away blindfolded in a truck and dumped in a cramped, windowless, one-room prison full of boys. There, they were fed millet full of barely visible sand, which prevented proper digestion, and, within days, gradually led to the death of boy after boy.
“They would go to sleep and never stand up again. ‘Tomorrow will be my day,’ ” Lomong said. “But I had three angels.” They were slightly older boys who told him to eat just enough of the death gruel to stay alive, but not enough to kill himself. After three weeks, the older trio discovered a hole in a fence. At midnight, crawling while guards talked, stopping when they fell silent, then crawling until they were outside the compound, the four boys began to run. “That is where my race started,” Lomong said.
Despite one boy holding each of his hands as they fled, Lomong nonetheless battered his legs on so many trees and thorns “that’s why they still look like such a mess . . . We ran for three days and nights. They would hide me in a cave while two of them went to get water. They would fetch some back for me in a big leaf.”
God bless you Lopez, and God bless the USA.