If you want to feel some hope for the future, all you have to do is tune in to the Olympics every evening.
To be sure, Olympic competitions are always inspiring. But this year's crop of athletes seem to be of high caliber, even for the Olympics.
And it's not just for what they accomplish on the athletic battlefield, although that is certainly inspiring.
It's also the way they carry themselves, their reaction to victory or defeat, the way they treat their fellow competitors and how they speak when they are interviewed.
My wife, Mary, summed it up well last night when she said, "It'd be nice if the rest of the world acted this way."
Can you imagine how much we could get done if Congress, on both sides of the aisle, adopted the spirit of these Olympic athletes?
Or peace negotiators in the Middle East? Or even the heads of corporations?
It's also nice to see these young people performing so well under so much pressure. Most of these athletes are not as well known as swimmer Michael Phelps. Many earn less than $20,000 a year while training for the Olympics.
In a world where computers and other electronics do so much for us, it's inspiring to watch athletes who have worked so hard for so long. There is no software program and no shortcut that gets you to the Olympic stage.
There are uncountable examples of this top quality demeanor among the Olympic athletes. I wanted to point out a few, just from last night.
The beach volleyball team of Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor won their first Olympic gold medal in 2004. They won again in 2008.
Both women are married and have lives outside their sports. Since 2008, Walsh Jennings has given birth to two children. May-Treanor ruptured her Achilles tendon.
Yet they reunited in 2011, determined to win another gold medal in their mid-30s. They did so without losing a match.
And when they won, they showed the same enthusiasm and joy as they did when they achieved their first Olympic gold in their twenties.
Sprinter Allyson Felix finished second in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics in the 200 meters. Many would have been satisfied with their two silver medals.
Not Felix. The 26-year-old Los Angeles native decided to give it one more try. She put in four more years of training and then blew away a quality field last night to snatch her first gold.
When she was interviewed, Felix was thankful for what she's been given and joyful for what she's accomplished.
The list of admirable athletes from the 2012 Olympics is long.
The swim teams are a delightful group of young men and women who walked away with a sackful of medals.
The women's gymnastics team showed grace and determination while winning and losing at this year's games.
It's not just the U.S. athletes either. I've watched a number of inspiring athletes from other countries, too.
Let's not forget our local athletes who have made our communities proud.
Mariya Koroleva, a Las Lomas High grad who along with her teammate finished 11th in the synchronized swimming women's duets.
De La Salle grad Kristian Ipsen, who along with his teammate won a bronze in the men's 3-meter springboard synchronized diving.
Clayton Valley High grad Kara Kohler, who snagged a bronze in the women's quadruple sculls rowing competition.
And Danville sisters Maggie and Jessica Steffens, who with have helped bring their women's water polo team to the gold medal.
Lots to inspire. Lots to be hopeful about.