Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.
A few weeks ago, Simone Biles removed herself from several Olympic competitions, and it was a national embarrassment.
No, Simone’s actions weren’t the embarrassment.
They were the incredibly brave choices of a young woman who was making the best decision for her own mental and physical health, and she should be applauded for it. She has borne the attention and demands of a nation on her shoulders with grace and determination, and she deserves nothing less than the heartfelt support and sincere gratitude of every person.
The national embarrassment was all the armchair athletes and “patriotic” nonsense-spewing dimwits who attacked Simone for her choice. People who never sniffed the pressures of Olympic competition — many of whom find wearing a mask for three minutes too arduous a task — belittled, barked, and spewed vitriol all over the Internet, and they should all be ashamed of themselves.
Anyone who speaks up about mental health issues faces potential criticism and backlash, and it needs to stop. The stigma against discussing taking necessary precautions and protective measures to ensure your continued ability to simply FUNCTION needs to go away.
Simone is not the first, and will certainly not be the last, athlete or public figure who will make waves by choosing personal safety, health, and well-being over the demands of a job, a position, or a role. But every time someone like Simone DOES step back for their own good, they also collectively strike a blow against mental health detractors and other forces of ignorance that continue to do harm to people who need protecting most of all.
And we need to celebrate, not denigrate, the public figures who sincerely and boldly share their own health struggles on the global stage.
Today’s puzzle is dedicated to some of those courageous individuals. I hope this puzzle serves to engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these remarkable people and to support emotional and mental wellness advocacy wherever you can.
[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]
If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.
I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.
Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Black lives matter.
AAPI lives matter.
Support mental health.