First, the obvious: this is a shaky, uncomfortable time in the United States of America. While it is difficult pick a date on the calendar as a starting point for all of this unease, it is safe to say that it has been less than pleasant for a while.
When the news from overseas isn’t horrible, something awful seems to happen here. With every new wave of tragedy, we’re inundated with shrieking, finger-pointing, and outright hatred through media channels so varied and numerous that it’s difficult to not think the apocalypse is nigh, especially if you are obligated to pay attention to the news all day.
While media in all of its forms (television, social, Internet, radio, etc.) are part of the real world, it isn’t necessarily representative of it. Unfortunately, its prevalence makes it very good at creating the illusion that it is.
Now that it feels like our previously relatively safe world here in America is spiraling completely out of control, it might be a good time to look at some reasons why it may not be a lost cause.
David Harsanyi from The Federalist pointed out on Twitter earlier that violent crime in the U.S. has been pretty much in decline since the 1990s:
This is not 1968. It’s not even 1993. pic.twitter.com/IUxx8tKBGS
— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) July 8, 2016
If everyone had been on Twitter and Facebook in the early ’90s we might all have headed for a cliff. Well, almost all of us; the cable news talking heads would still be screaming about who was at fault for lemming behavior, with “right wing rhetoric” and “liberal media” leading the list, depending on which head was doing the talking.
Obviously, we all know that there are good people in the world, it’s just that the disproportionate coverage given bad news can make that almost an abstract concept (we’ll save the discussion about why bad news sells better — or is thought to — for another day).
So here are five examples of some people who are doing some good things, big or small; just a reminder that, contrary to the way things may feel at the moment, not everyone is awful.
1. Gabriele Grunewald
Gabriele Grunewald was diagnosed with cancer while running in college at the University of Minnesota. Before her diagnosis, she admits that she wasn’t good enough to consider a professional running career. Something weird happened on her way back from life-threatening disease: she got faster. After being granted extra eligibility from the NCAA due to medical hardship, Grunewald set a new personal record in the 1500 by more than ten seconds and went on to finish second in that event in the NCAA Championships.
She has since become a professional runner, had a second cancer scare and is now competing for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. When Grunewald isn’t running, she makes herself available to provide advice and inspiration for younger runners facing frightening medical diagnoses. She does it all with smile. Her Twitter feed is both a source of inspiration and support for other runners.
Next Page: Youth serving youth.
2. Avery Marklin and “Kettlebells for Kids”
At 8 years old, Avery Marklin does two things that adults often say we will, yet rarely, if ever, get around to: he works out regularly and volunteers to help those less fortunate. No participation trophies for this young man — he’s earning his praise. Some cynics like to say kids like this are just being put up to it by their parents.
Next Page: Highlighting solutions.
3. Opportunity Lives
Opportunity Lives is an organization that will give you more than one reason to believe in the regular people of America. Here’s its mission:
Opportunity Lives is a news platform dedicated to discovering and highlighting real-life success stories and solutions across America.
What makes our platform unique is a focus on solutions rather than conflict. We’re interested in what works, and why. In our view, solutions are not merely good policies, but the result of free people taking initiative and seizing opportunities to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Opportunity Lives is dedicated to finding those stories and highlighting America’s doers, reformers, innovators and problem-solvers, regardless of where they live.
These are inspiring stories of people who not only decided (with help) to change their own lives, but are now using their experiences to try and affect change in the lives of others, often in hostile environments. Here’s a trailer for a video series Opportunity Lives did to get these tales that deserved to be told out there:
Next Page: Shopping Spree!
4. Andre Johnson
I am including this because I’ve written about this a couple of times in holiday seasons past and always thought it was a nice Christmas story. Pro football player Andre Johnson likes to treat at-risk youth from Child Protective Services to a Toys R Us shopping spree every year. They get to run around for 81 (his jersey number) seconds and grab whatever they can, then he pays the bill. Last year it was over $18,000.
While it’s true that NFL stars and other pro athletes can afford to do this kind of thing, it doesn’t mean they have to, or always do. Too often we hear the worst about pampered, wealthy athletes. Johnson’s heart has always seemed to be really in this and, hey, TOY SHOPPING.
Next Page: Good cop…good cop.
5. Officer Joshua Scaglione
This story speaks for itself, but I’ll add my commentary anyway: it is very important to remember that the world doesn’t disintegrate every time the police interact with the citizens. There are saints and sinners on both sides of the equation but it doesn’t always add up to horrible headlines.
Next Page: BONUS!
BONUS: Hug Lady!
A woman in Arvada, CO, was so distraught over backlash and violence against police last year that she decided to head to a station and give a cop a hug.
Simple. Sweet. Powerful.
Naturally, the press wanted to know more about her, but she preferred keeping her last name out of it and focus on the officers, whom she has long supported.
There. A few examples of the good rather than the bad. Some may shrug and say that it isn’t enough to make a difference.
Thankfully, the good folks tend not to pay attention to that sort of stuff.