A severely damaged economy. Thieving Wall Street financial corporations. Home mortgage failures in numbers unseen in our lifetimes. Watching our retirement savings disappear as those who pushed us off the cliff take their millions and live the good life. Record unemployment of educated, talented workers through no fault of their own. A congress severely infected by a near-terminal strain of ignorance. A political system poisoned by cash and doomed ideology. Hate and anger infecting an electorate not sure what it’s angry about or whom it hates. A national atmosphere of distrust and fear.

Not phrases or adjectives a person likes to use to describe a native country but – all too sadly – they fit conditions we have come to live with daily. As the man said “If stress were adrenalin, I could bench press a Buick.”

Then POW!!! WHAM! SHAZAM!

Along comes 115 pounds of teenager nicknamed “Frog” and all that doom and gloom fades – if only for a moment – while we’re focused on sheer athletic talent in a dynamite-filled package. Gabby Douglas. And four other teens that make you proud they – and you – are Americans. With many others doing equally amazing things.

We’ve been inveterate Olympics watchers at our house this week. Who could not be? Thrills – talent – tears – athletic excellence – enough drama to fill every theater on Broadway – record-setting performances from kids not old enough to vote – time after time after time! I haven’t seen any Olympics – summer or winter – in the last 60 years that could top what’s on the ol’ telly right now. Every night! And more good stuff coming!

Phelps and Franklin and Lochte and on and on and on. Swimmers, divers, rowers, tumblers, dancers, wrestlers, volleyball warriors, fencers, badminton, table tennis slams, shooters, archers. We’re not even to track and field where it’ll just get better!

And the technology we’re watching. Absolutely amazing! I remember when each swimmer, for example, had a judge at both ends of the lane. Each held a small flag. A trained human eye and the reflex of a quick arm decided the winners. Not a computer spitting out victors and vanquished by 17/100’s of a second. Or less. And the up-close-and-personal access for watchers. Overhead. Underneath. Along side. Sometimes even inside. And you can see it again and again – even in very slow motion.

Most of us don’t have a lot to cheer about these days. So what’s on our TV screens each night may be the best prescription for a weary national body. It’s not possible to watch these kids and dwell on our problems at the same time. I’ve tried. And the kids always win.

But I do have a short, very personal message to deliver to some vocal malcontents who seem to have nothing else to do in their lives but bitch. To those voices who’ve filled the “social” media with complaints about Gabby Douglas’ hair – shut the Hell up! What in the world are you looking for? That young lady personifies the absolute best the Olympics have to offer – talent by the barrelful – beauty – grace – style – charm – personality – athletic perfection. She could be bald and you’d still have all that. What’s wrong with all of you? Get a life!

As for the rest of us, the Olympics are offering some absolutely wonderful opportunities for all of us to feel proud to be Americans – to feel good about our country – to temporarily escape our troubles. I say grab it while we can. And if you don’t get much done for the next week, that’s fine. Everything that’s been weighing us down recently will still be there when the Olympic flame is extinguished.

Damn it!

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