Like 40 million other Americans, I tuned in to the opening ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad in London.
Among the thousands of Olympic athletes who marched in the opening night ceremony were 10 from Syria, a nation awash in bloodshed under the government of President Bashar Assad.
I wondered about them, these athletes from Syria.
Whom do they represent when they wear Syria across their chest? For whom are the medals, should they win? Did the opening night ceremony of fireworks and flames remind them of home? How must it feel to be playing in London when back home your compatriots are engaged in a life and death competition called war — and murder?
More than 19,000 reportedly have died in Syria since March 2011. Most of these have been civilians killed by the Assad government.
I wonder if the civilians in Syria are aware that there are Games going on in London so far removed from the carnage. The NBC network news showed a mother going to the morgue where her son lay dead from a government sniper's bullet to the head. Does she know the Games go on?
Do Assad's soldiers who are killing them indiscriminately know the Games go on, with over 10,500 athletes from around the world competing for medals of gold, silver and bronze?
Do those fighting against the Assad government army know? Do they care?
The world keeps on playing — bouncing balls on hardwood floors, splashing in pools of chlorine water, riding horses on green grass, running laps on fresh tracks, kicking up imported sand from quarries, swinging swords for sport, lifting iron for the heck of it, skimming balls on grass toward crowded nets — all in the Olympic spirit.
Of course it's not a total escape from the world's reality. Two athletes have been sent home for tweeting racist remarks. One was a Swiss player who tweeted comments against the South Korean team that defeated his; the other was a Greek player who tweeted about the number of Africans in her country.
And the world keeps on cheering.
I wonder how I would feel if I were in a fight for survival, a fight for my family's survival, and the cheers of the Olympic fans reached my ear. How I would feel knowing the world can send world-class athletes thousands of miles away to engage in competition in London, but cannot find the way to send soldiers to stop the blood and body parts that litter the streets of Syria.
In time it will be over, but how will the world look back?
The show must go on. The world keeps on living even when others are dying. I have watched and will watch. I enjoy the Olympics. Always have, from the time I was a young boy. The Games are entertaining and inspiring. I understand the Olympic ideals, as well as the spirit.
I can forget all else that is going on in this big world of ours when engrossed in watching the Olympic competition in sports I love and sports I would not normally have given the time of day.
But I do have to wonder when I see the news of athletes "battling" for medals, while other scenes flash of those battling for life.
How would it feel to be in Syria in a struggle for life where nations have not come to intervene, but these same nations gather together for games?
On the Olympic stage, the shooting and killing takes a back seat. The world keeps crowning winners with medals of gold, silver and bronze. In Syria, someone will be crowned with blood. And while no one can guarantee that what will rise from the ashes will not be a government more repressive than the current one, whatever government results will be one in which the world will have had a hand, by not lifting a hand.
In the Games of the XXX Olympiad, there have already been many Olympic moments. But in the continuing bloodshed in Syria, there will be no "we are the world" moment of which anyone can be proud.