World news from the positive angle

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

I have been investigating uplifting news, trying to find it, in fact, as if it were a crime being sought out by a Woodward and Bernstein team of investigative journalists. There is some uplifting news; in fact, there’s enough actually to uplift us in a time of low-grade fever that awakes us in the AM with anxiety.

The uplifting news is this: “…2017 is likely to be the best year in the history of humanity.”

This is a statement (of opinion, actually, not exactly news except in the reporting of it) in a column in the New York Times of July 2, 2017, by Nicholas Kristof.

In the face of what we hear and see all day every day from the news, this is heartening, if unbelievable. But Kristof said that for one thing, we’re conquering leprosy: cases around the world have dropped since 1985 by 97 percent. And leprosy is now treatable. “Certainly it’s the best news nobody knows about.” What a great line, Mr Kristof.

The near defeat of leprosy indicates a lessening of other diseases often associated with poverty . . . which is also on the decline. If this is a trend, it is truly good news. Jesus is said to have said that the poor will always be with us, a line I’ve always thought to be condescending and arrogant; it sounds unlike something Jesus would say and more like something a very rich person would say. Perhaps we’re finally proving the very rich wrong.

A hundred million children worldwide have been vaccinated since 1990. Fewer children are dying of malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition and worms. From what Kristof can figure, the percentage of people dying of starvation on any given day has plummeted to 10 percent; for most of history it’s been 90 percent. More than 85 percent of the world can read; it used to be that more than 85 percent couldn’t. And despite some Americans in power who have refused over the years to donate to struggling societies in need of birth control, family planning has conquered, and there are fewer babies being born to impoverished homes. This means that the babies who are born receive better care, more food, possibly education.

There are also fewer deaths from global war now than ever in history. It is a fact that currently we hear more about war deaths than ever in our lives, probably including WWII, so it affects us as horrific and everywhere: the sky is falling. But the number of war deaths is less than in the 1950s, that vaunted decade of “the good old days” to which some politicians want us to return. As if we could return to anything, good or bad.

These are indeed uplifting pieces of information, so I intend to keep them in mind when I get stuck on climate change, firings at the Environmental Protection Agency, fake facts on voter fraud, pleas from the administration for all of our voting info (name, birth date, Social Security number, political affiliation, criminal record [Did I know my voter registration included my Social?]), workable missiles in North Korea, refugees from Syria, Africa, South America, Asia trying to get away from horror and into countries who won’t let them in.

Positive reporting shows a positive world that is stronger than the negative world order promoted by our leader and certain news outlets. I’ve been in on plenty of discussions in the past six months about the “I-don’t-know-what’s-going-to-happen-to us” swamp we’ve waded into. I understand the job of reporters is to tell us what’s going on. It’s our job to turn it off now and then and investigate some good news.

Just think about this if you want to be happy: The President has donated $50 million toward entrepreneurial women around the world! The uplifting of women and children throughout the world is what Hillary Clinton worked on her entire life, from the time she was in law school. We can be uplifted that the current leader of the free world has taken a page out of a forward-looking woman’s book of life – a woman he has much maligned – and adopted it as his own. Now if that isn’t a piece of delightful news, what is?


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