15 Sep 2014
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The Bearer of Good News

Aren’t you tired of bad news? Patch Back’s Lisa Bigelow is. For this week, anyway.

The Bearer of Good News

My girlfriend Lynne and I were relaxing together over the long holiday weekend with our families for an impromptu get-together. She mentioned to me that she had been spending quite a bit of time listening to NPR lately. 

“It’s really depressing,” she said, noting the dearth of good news. “The world is in a dangerous place.”

“Well, your first problem is listening to NPR,” I said, laughing. “Although,” I added, grabbing the wine opener, “they should be pretty happy over there, what with all the government spending and so forth.”

She’s right, though. The world is in a dangerous place. If we were to only listen to the vast majority of stories on mainsteam media outlets, we would think there is no good to be found anywhere.

Luckily, that's not the case. And though the currency of commentary is most frequently the complaint, for this week I thought it might be refreshing to read about things that are going right in the world. So, for your enjoyment, here is the best news I was able to find:

The FDA approved an eye implant which restores vision to blind people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa. “This enables people who are completely blind to see enough to improve their mobility,” a biomedical engineer told the MIT Technology Review. Europe approved the device two years ago, but this is the first time the device, called the Argus II, will be widely available in the U.S.

Finally, some good news about pit bulls. An Oklahoma pit bull named Baby woke two sisters whose home of 17 years was on fire. The dog, relentless, barked and pounced on them until they awoke, fleeing the burning house with their lives. Not content to rescue only his human companions, Baby returned to the house to save the family's five additional dogs, including one Baby found hiding under the bed that she had to drag out by the scruff.

The rise of random acts of kindness. Remember the movie Pay it Forward? This past Valentine’s Day, an anonymous couple paid the $250 tab of a young couple eating dinner on Cupid’s favorite holiday. The catch? “The only request is that someday you pay it forward.” Three cheers for doing something nice just because it's nice and not because there's a tax or social benefit for the do-gooder!

Saudi Arabia appointed 30 women to its formal advisory council. King Abdullah, the leader of the conservative Islamic nation, observed the change was important for “balanced modernization.” Saudi women, who cannot currently drive or socialize with unrelated men and require permission to work, travel abroad and marry, will also be able to vote and run for office in 2015. Slow progress to be sure, but progress nevertheless.

People care! They really, really care! Whether you sympathize with the gun control demonstrators or the rights advocates, we can all agree that the outpouring of support for both causes has reignited the popularity of active participation in government. And in Weston, two fourth graders proposed banning plastic bags in town, demonstrating that when an issue is important enough people will stand up and do something about it. Is our society sometimes lackadaisical about civics? Yes. Do we show up when it matters? Yes.

We can tell when asteroids and meteors are approaching earth (sort of). The news that asteroid 2012 DA14 flew by the earth at satellite-level reminded us all that what we have in mind for the day and what space has in mind for the day are two totally different things. But thanks to the good folks at the Near-Earth Object Program Office, we don’t have to worry about DA14, at least for the balance of the 21st century. Russian meteorites? That's another story, but at least no one died.

The easy availability of good news. Just try Googling “good news” and see the number of websites that come back. Not only does this mean there are good news stories to read, it means there are people who think good news important enough to make entire websites devoted to it. And that there are people interested enough in good news to subscribe to such websites!

Long story short? Sometimes we just have to decide to be happy for the day. And today, I'm choosing happy.

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