A Better World: 5 Positive News Stories

By Wes Annac

I wrote the following for the 329th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

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The news can be depressing. Paying attention to it all will likely keep you uneasy and uncertain about our future. Although it’s good to be aware of what’s going on, hearing about the bad all the time can take a toll on your psyche.

Being aware of the bad and good in the world will give you a balanced perspective. It will help you see that while there is a lot to be upset about, there’s also a lot to celebrate. The world is not completely terrible, and some people do want to make it better.

Instead of cringing at all the bad news, let’s check out five positive news stories to be reminded of how the world can be good.

5. Woman rents rooms for Chicago’s homeless as the cold weather becomes hazardous

Candice Payne and the people who worked with her in this endeavor show us what we can do when we think about those in need.

During a recent cold spell, temperatures dropped to as low as -20 in Chicago. As this was happening, a propane tank fire near a homeless encampment forced many therein to leave and find shelter elsewhere. (1)

Candice and other kindhearted people rented 60 hotel rooms for around 80 people. Candice charged 20 of those rooms to her own credit card. (1)

She wanted those she helped to know that there are people who care, but they might not always know how to help. She says, “I’m glad that I was able to be that vehicle and have a lot of people jump on the vehicle with me”. (1)

If possible, Candice wants to find some of them a place to live. (1)

4. Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler funds home for abused girls

Maybe you’ve heard Aerosmith’s hit song, “Janie’s Got a Gun”. It’s about a girl who grows up in an abusive household, which is an uncomfortable topic for most people. It turns out that front man Steven Tyler is not just singing about it but using his wealth to help those who are affected.

Tyler has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past to help abused girls. Along with this, he recently donated $500,000 dollars to the renovation and reopening of a new girl’s shelter near Memphis known as “Janie’s House”. The house will be available for “up to 14 girls” who are victims of trauma. (2)

This is the second “Janie’s House” Tyler has funded, with the first opening in Atlanta in 2017. Together with the Youth Villages nonprofit, he created a philanthropic organization known as Janie’s Fund that he intends to open more shelters with. (2)

He has also donated over $500,000 to help American foster children who grow too old to remain in the system. Overall, he has raised over $4 million for women and children who are victims of abuse. (2)

3. Couple stranded in snowstorm is rescued

Sometimes, being heroic means caring enough to make an effort. An interest in helping someone could be the first step toward changing their life or, in this case, saving it. This is precisely what happened when a couple stranded in a snowstorm were rescued by two people who went looking for them.

The couple spent five days stranded in snowy Mendocino National Forest in California before they were found. Their rescuers, who heard they had been missing and set out to find them, almost gave up their search before prevailing at the last minute. (3)

After Carlos Hernandez Jr. and his girlfriend Maia Herman-Kitami went missing, their relatives started to ask around for help finding them. Jason Logan and his father-in-law Ron Lovell had been hearing about the disappearance for a few days when Logan’s wife mentioned that they could possibly find the missing people. (3)

Logan and his father-in-law went out and searched for four hours but found nothing. Just as they were ready to give up, they saw in the distance the Jeep they had been looking for. Logan was excited but worried whether the couple was alive, until they emerged from the Jeep. (3)

For five days, Carlos and Maia had portioned their food, drank snow to avoid dehydration, put up a “help” sign, and continuously cleared snow from the Jeep’s roof. It’s a good thing they were found, because according to Logan, the snow could’ve soon buried the Jeep. (3)

2. Thousands of teachers will potentially be relieved of debt

Imagine you want to be a teacher but can’t afford to go to school. The government tells you they will give you a grant on the condition that once you’re out of school, you’ll teach in a low-income area for four years. If you don’t stick to the agreement, the grant will become a loan with interest you must pay off.

Now, imagine that the paperwork to prove you’re working where you should be is complex and filled with jargon that makes it difficult to fill out properly. Despite this, you send it every year to ensure your grant stays in place.

Then, at the end of your fourth year, you’re told there was a mistake. The paperwork was late, which means your grant is now a loan. You owe the government, and you’re in deep. This is what happened to Kaitlyn McCollum, but fortunately, she and many other teachers may be relieved of this terrible debt.

Journalists for NPR along with consumer advocacy group Public Citizen investigated this grant program and put pressure on the Department of Education to make changes. The result is that loans will potentially become grants again for over 12,000 teachers. (4)

The Department of Education created the TEACH grant program to incentivize future teachers to work in schools with a greater need. Again, they pay for the teacher’s education if he or she agrees to work in one of those schools for four years. (4)

Recipients are required to show proof of where they are working every year. The difficult submission process has resulted in the conversion of many grants under this program to loans that had gained interest. Kaitlyn McCollum submitted her proof on her fourth and final year, only for her $24,000 grant to change to a loan. (4)

Fortunately, thanks in large part to the reporters who investigated the matter, the Department of Education is giving recipients with loans another chance to prove where they were working and have their grant reinstated. Teachers still working in low-income areas will also see their loans reconverted. (4)

1. Christian, Muslim, and Native groups living peacefully in a region in the Philippines

The United States might seem especially divided right now, but Americans are not the only ones fighting by far. Around the world, it’s sadly common for different races and religious or political groups to fight each other. In too many places, the fighting has escalated to war.

In one region in the Philippines, three groups with stark differences live together as a community. The Upi Municipality is an example of what can happen when people come together in the face of religious, political, or racial differences that could easily divide them.

The region’s population is 60% Teduray residents (a group native to the region), 25% Christian, and 15% Muslim. Rather than fighting, residents live together, work together, eat and celebrate together, and respect each other as neighbors. (5)

All three groups have representation in the government. When there is a dispute, it’s settled by a local council comprised of two indigenous elders as well as two Christian and Muslim elders. (5)

Locals say that since they treat each other like neighbors, they can live together with no problems. Residents are happier, and the peace between them has economic benefits. Market vendors help each other out; if one area runs out of any given resource, they can trade with others nearby and vice versa. (5)

The residents hope to set an example the rest of the world can live by. (5)

Try to remember these stories the next time the state of the world depresses you.

Remember that some people care enough to keep the homeless from being stuck in the cold. Some care enough to rescue a pair of strangers stranded during a snowstorm, and a rock star cares enough to help abused girls.

Not to mention that thousands of teachers will be blessed with debt relief and groups that could be fighting are instead living peacefully. When you pair these stories together, they provide hope that our species is heading in a better direction.

Sources:

(1) “Chicago woman booked hotel rooms to help homeless escape cold”, CBS This Morning, February 1, 2019 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cxBmALFgOs

(2) McKinley Corbley, “Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler Donates $500K to Open Up Another Home for Abused and Traumatized Girls”, Good News Network, February 6, 2019 – https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/steven-tyler-donates-500k-to-open-another-home-for-abused-and-traumatized-girls/

(3) Chelsea Robinson, “’Just mind-boggling’: Couple stranded 5 days in snow rescued by good Samaritans”, KCCI Des Moines, February 6, 2019 – https://www.kcci.com/article/just-mind-boggling-couple-stranded-5-days-in-snow-rescued-by-good-samaritans/26175977

(4) John Large, “Thanks to Journalistic Investigation, Thousands of Teachers Will Be Relieved of Their Debt”, Good News Network, February 2, 2019 – https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/thanks-to-journalistic-investigation-thousands-of-teachers-will-be-relieved-of-their-debt/

(5) Adriene Cabalinan, “Christian, Muslim and Indigenous groups work together in divided Philippines”, Peace News, October 27, 2018 – https://www.peacenews.com/single-post/2018/10/27/Christian-Muslim-and-Indigenous-groups-work-together-in-divided-Philippines

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About the author:

I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, the environment, activism, music, and other awesome stuff. I run Karma Yoga Daily, a news blog dedicated to sharing daily wisdom.

This personal blog I run is pretty great, too.

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