The End of the World? Don’t Hide. Live Better.

Today I’m not going to write about the news stories that are terrifying and saddening the entire world. I’m not going to talk about the innocent victims or possible solutions or call for gun control or better care for the mentally ill, although I think those things are well worth discussing. I’m writing because it seems the world has gone mad, and I feel a need to ask you all not to let the end of the world become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is what has haunted me ever since I heard about the end of the Mayan calendar and how many millions of people actually harbor some belief that Friday will be the end of the world: What if it’s not? What if God has no intention of ending the world on Friday, but as the “end” that we have prophesied for ourselves approaches, people go mad and society destroys itself? What if we ruin our world and kill each other and those who survive have a world no longer worth living in?

The holiday season always brings out the madness in people. It enhances the divide between those who have so much and those who have nothing. I believe this holiday will be even worse than usual and that’s why I’m writing. This holiday, I’d like to encourage everyone to think a little bit about your neighbors. Do they have enough to make their Christmas merry? Do they have someone in their lives to love or are they alone? Reach out and shake someone’s hand or leave a small gift for someone you think might not get something this season. If you’re not comfortable with that personal approach, give something to your local Food Bank or other charity.

I plan to do some soul-searching today to think about what I can do this season. I want to go a little beyond what I usually do. I want to try to make a real difference this year. I don’t know if the Mayan calendar means anything or not. I don’t honestly think we can predict the end of the world. What I do know is that nobody’s tomorrow is ever guaranteed, and if we don’t try to make a difference today, we may never get a chance. After all, where would you rather be if God comes down to judge us? Helping someone in need or hiding in a Doomsday bunker?

We need a hero, or, What would happen to Superman if he really existed.

Imagine for a moment if Superman really did appear in the sky. A man flying through the sky would certainly raise a few eyebrows, and I imagine the red ink would really start to flow. Surely he took some performance enhancing drugs in order to fly, right? He couldn’t really be stronger than steel, and dammit, if an Olympic athlete can’t leap over a building in a single bound, no way can some honest-to-goodness superhero do it without taking drugs of some sort. Never mind that we can’t find it in any of our tests. Hell, he’s made of steel. We couldn’t even draw blood. We had to depend on the urine tests. And no, none of those were conclusive, and yes, he always cooperated with us, but there’s a whole bunch of people who used to work with him that say he took drugs. Reliable folks like Lex Luthor.

I know I’m exaggerating, but really, I sort of felt like somebody took a hero away from me when I heard Lance Armstrong was going to be stripped of his Tour de France titles. It’s just wrong. Lance Armstrong has never tested positive for drugs, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he has been tested more often than any other athlete ever in any sport. And he’s finally just gotten sick of fighting this battle with a federal agency whose jurisdiction in his case is questionable, at best, and they jump on his refusal to continue fighting and strip him of everything he’s earned.

What message is this supposed to send us?

I’m not a competitive cyclist, as anybody who has ever seen me pedaling along on my two-wheeler could tell you. I’m not an athlete or a sports writer (thank goodness). Maybe I don’t even have a right to speak up here, since I’ve never even watched the Tour de France on television. What I am, however, is someone who admires people who accomplish amazing things. Some of my heroes: Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Bill and Hillary Clinton (yep) and Kofi Annan. And, still, Lance Armstrong. Even if he never gets his titles back.

I believe some people have extraordinary abilities. Superheroes? No. But I believe it is possible to love something so much and work at it so hard that you hone your abilities and surpass anything anyone has ever done before. You can fine-tune your body to do amazing things if you have the drive to accept the pain. I do not believe that anyone could pass drug test after drug test for years and years and still be using drugs. I just don’t believe it’s possible.

What I do believe exists, however, are witch hunts. I think sometimes a group or an individual can convince themselves something is or isn’t true and search and search until they find “evidence” that supports their convictions, in spite of all the real evidence to the contrary that they’ve encountered over the years. These are the people who tell their kids the tooth fairy doesn’t exist, by the way.

I want someone to overturn the USADA’s decision. Give Lance Armstrong back what he earned and deserves. And for God’s sake, stop the witch hunt, already. Accept that he’s done something amazing because he worked hard to achieve it.