A good news break

Dear President Trump,

As I left work today I was mentally fishing around for a topic for today’s letter and decided to look out for acts of kindness on my way home to tell you about. Usually there are at least a few instances where someone is clearly patient and/or generous with another driver so I thought surely there would be some things to report. Maybe because traffic was light and clipped along without hiccups, I didn’t end up seeing much overt kindness, but I did find myself leaving more space than usual and letting a couple of people in – no doubt because I’d primed myself to be kinder. Even though I came up pretty blank for fun things to tell you, it did make the drive more pleasant.

Since I was still feeling kind of sour and grumpy when I got home, I decided to scan the WP for good news to lighten my mood. I was SOL. Out of desperation I Googled “is there any good news today?” and I came across a site called “The Good News Network.” It’s lovely. I highly recommend it. They’ve been around for 20 years and it looks like there are four or five new stories added every day. Headlines from the last few days include:

  • Two Little Girls Have a Petition and Powerful Video for McDonald’s—It May Signal the End of Wasteful Plastic Toys
  • Jaden Smith Celebrates 21st Birthday By Deploying Vegan Food Truck to Hand Out Free Meals to Homeless
  • Phenomenal Good Samaritan Drives 1,300 Miles to Rescue Stranded Family and Their Cross-Country Voyage
  • Guy Dressed as Batman Has Rescued Dozens of Shelter Pets From Euthanasia
  • ‘Good Samaritan’ App That Alerts Nearby Users to Medical Emergencies Has Saved Thousands*
  • 316 Dutch Bus Stops Are Getting Green Roofs Covered in Plants as a Gift For Honeybees
  • Doctor Uses Table Salt to Bring Down Cost of Artificial Skin Grafts From $900 to $5 Per Square Inch*
  • Miss Virginia Contestant Performs Science Experiment For Talent Portion and Wins Beauty Pageant Crown

The two marked with *’s made me cry. The Good Samaritan one was moving because it described a young woman paramedic getting an alert about a man in cardiac arrest in her neighborhood and arriving there within a couple of minutes to provide CPR until the ambulance arrived. The one about the innovative use of table salt to make artificial skin grafts got to me because the underlying reason the doctor needed to come up with a better way to have ready access to skin grafts is because so many young women in Pakistan are badly burned when people throw acid at them to punish them for various perceived transgressions. While it’s wonderful that this medical breakthrough happened and that the doctor was so motivated to help these young women, it’s beyond horrifying that this is the reason readily available, inexpensive skins grafts are so needed there.

Almost all of the good news stories included on the site are about people taking pains to address situations that are somewhere on the unfortunate to downright shitty continuum. This makes sense since it probably wouldn’t make much of a story to just catalogue totally random acts of kindness where there’s not some underlying edge, but it was still a little unnerving to realize this.

Another couple of observations about the site: 1) so far it looks like about two thirds of the stories are reporting on things outside the US, and 2) exactly none of them are about you.

May we bring the stress and sense of foreboding down a notch by taking in good news.
May we be willing to widen our foci to make space for positives.
May we keep recalibrating as needed to find a healthy balance in the news department.
May we be kind to ourselves and allow ourselves good news breaks as needed.

Tracy Simpson

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