We live in a world where we are aware of events that happen in distant places almost immediately. Technological advances allow us to witness the tragedies and triumphs of people across the globe in real time.

Tornados in the Midwest. Tsunamis in Japan. 276 Nigerian girls kidnapped from their school by a militant Islamic group. Four teenagers brutally murdered and the violent responses in Israel. The death of a 22 month old child left in a hot car in Atlanta.

We are bombarded daily by tales of horror and inhumanity. So much bad news.

But there are times when the world is brought together by different and more pleasant events. The past three weeks have afforded such an opportunity as the excitement of the 2014 World Cup has been shared by people all over the world.

The 20th FIFA World Cup began June 12 and will culminate with the final match on July 13. National teams from 32 countries have competed after being selected through qualifying rounds that began three years ago.

Almost four million spectators have filled the 12 stadiums across Brazil for the 62 matches that have been completed. Billions of people have watched this sports spectacle in countries across the globe.

The finals are scheduled for this weekend with Netherlands and Brazil in the consolation round on Saturday while Germany and Argentina will meet in the championship match on Sunday.

I watched with pride as the team from the United States represented the country well with their level of play. As a result of his outstanding performances, USA goalie Tim Howard, earned high praise and respect. He set a World Cup record with sixteen saves. Quite an accomplishment for someone diagnosed with Tourette syndrome when he was in sixth grade. His mother said she was afraid people would not be able to get past his physical and vocal tics.

Among other surprises of the tournament was the early departure of soccer (football to most of the world) powerhouses England and Spain. Then two days ago Brazil was beaten by Germany 7-1. It is not surprising that Brazil would have a hard time against Germany after losing their star player, Neymar, to an injury in the previous match, and their captain because of too many yellow cards (penalties) in previous matches. But no one anticipated such an humbling defeat.

During these past three weeks I have celebrated and agonized with people I never met. I have rejoiced at their victories and sympathized with them in their defeats. I hope for more opportunities- athletic events, humanitarian efforts, social gatherings, spiritual and religious experiences- to help us recognize that we are more alike than different.

Jamie Jenkins