Go away for a few days, come back to the second Cold War

Every time I know I am going to be gone for a few days, I always contemplate whether I should write a small post explaining why there may be no new content for a few days.

Then I realize: who the hell cares? I doubt many of you are waiting on baited breath for my next entry, and anyone who is is well aware that I have disappeared for days at a time and always came back. Like this past week, for instance, when I was in Florida.

So if I don’t post for more than, let’s say, a whole month, you can safely assume I’ve either been kidnapped or am dead.

That being said, this may very well be my only post until the middle of next week, as I am taking a trip out of the country early Saturday morning. I’ll let you find out where when I return.

In my absence, meanwhile, a lot has happened. Which seems to be the trend in this country these days.

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Given the inexplicable outbreak of iconic celebrity deaths this year, it should come as no surprise that we lost a couple of other big names — actor Alan Thicke and basketball reporter Craig Sager.

The former was known for being the gentle father from the late ’80s TV show “Growing Pains,” and the latter the vibrantly dressed basketball lifer who inspired millions when his fight against cancer ignited a movement, #SagerStrong, highlighted by his incredible speech at last year’s ESPY awards.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Besides that, all of the news seemed to be dominated by more head-scratching Trump appointments — like his selection of Rick Perry to lead the department he once couldn’t remember the name of — and increasing animosity between the U.S. and Russia.

And in some cases, those two things intertwined.

Of course, we were dropped a bombshell late last week when we learned that Russian hackers also infiltrated the Republican National Convention, but did not leak any of their findings, ultimately leading U.S. intelligence analysts to the conclusion that Russia effectively played a role in comprising our presidential election.

On top of that, we learned that Republican lawmakers were notified of this before the election, but decided they did not want to come out publicly to denounce it. Basically … we just let it happen.

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A lot of people will shrug this off and say, “who cares?” The election is over and we should move on. In fact, that is exactly what Donald Trump is saying.

But the fact of the matter is that this undermines the stability of our entire democracy. We take free and open elections for granted, but they are the basic pillar of our republic, and to have them tampered with by a foreign country with whom we share a checkered past is destabilizing at best, and an act of warfare at worst.

And yet, the president-elect does not want to even acknowledge it happened.

I don’t know what is more shocking — the revelation of how fragile our democracy is, or our indifference towards it.

Cold wars don’t start with an obvious act of military conflict. They slowly marinate over time. Most Generation Y-ers like me were too young (or not born yet) to appreciate the end of the Cold War between the United States or Soviet Union. But in case you’re wondering what it looks like, well, if we’re not there yet — we will be soon.

But don’t worry, oil tycoon Rex Tillerson will fix it.

If I hadn’t ended about six other posts since Election Day with the words “God help us,” I’d do it again right now.

Screw it.

God help us.

The night the ESPYS made me bawl like a baby

Wednesday night’s ESPY Awards, the predominant sports awards show in the U.S., began with a solemn message about race and unity by four of the most recognizable faces in the athletic world.

Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James each took their turn commenting on the fragile and divisive state our country finds itself in, and pleaded for harmony and togetherness.

It was a singularly unique and powerful opening to what is typically a relatively lighthearted and entertaining evening, and immediately set the tone while catching my full attention.

Normally, the ESPYS are like the Golden Globes or the Oscars. It’s a celebrity lovefest for the world’s premier athletes to socialize and interact on a platform that  is above the rest of us common folk. It’s a means to glorify those who are already glorified.

But last night it was not about that.

Craig Sager

It’s almost as if the producers of the ESPYS realized that no one really cares about arbitrary awards and decided to turn the show into an inspirational evening. And it worked.

Normally the show features a couple of human stories that tug at the heartstrings, but this year they amped it up. Big time.

There was Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, a disabled swimmer — or paraswimmer for those unfamiliar with the term — who earned the Pat Tillman Award for Service. She’s an active service member who was placed in a coma after she sustained a near deadly infection. She clung to life and was back in the pool a month later.

There was Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, a cancer survivor who returned to football following his treatment, who earned the Comeback Player of the Year Award, who delivered a very inspiring speech directed to all those who are currently battling cancer.

Then it just went to full I-can’t-even-pretend-I’m-not-crying mode.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award was given to the late Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old popular student athlete and role model to his friends and brothers in Knoxville, Tennessee, who was shot to death in a random shooting late last year after he heroically jumped on top of two friends to save their life.

His mother and two brothers accepted the award, and delivered a painful, heartfelt plea toZaevion Dobson end the gun violence in America. By the end of the segment, I was a wreck. It will also anger some, given that there are so many people in the world who refuse to act to curb the prevalence of guns when stories like this so often exist.

Finally, the Jimmy V Perseverance Award was bestowed to the eccentric but very likable basketball reporter Craig Sager, who is a staple for all sports fans on the sidelines of basketball games, most noteworthy for his humorous interviews with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Sager only has a few months left to live. It draws similarities to last year’s recipient, Stuart Scott, who died in January. When you get the chance, watch Sager’s speech, because it will put some serious perspective into your day.

And then it ended. I won’t bother linking to any video clips or speeches of the award recipients because they’ll likely be taken down from YouTube fairly soon. So look them up yourself.

Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of all that we take for granted — our health, family and friends. And it’s also a remedy for the soul to hear such human, heart-wrenching stories.

That’s all for me. In case you’re wondering, I just heard about the devastating carnage that occurred in France as I started writing this blog … but it’s way too soon for me to react. Maybe next week. I don’t feel like discussing tragedy right now.

Have a good weekend, y’all. Be safe.