The Optimism Game: Level 2017

This year sucked.  2017 has been a year of political unrest, mass shootings, oil spills, and environmental disasters beyond the scope of what the world has ever seen. But for the next few minutes of your life as you read this, I’d like to bring light to some of the good things that were lost in the massive shit storm that has been the last 11 months.

In January, a whole litter of puppies were found alive after having been buried under an avalanche for 5 full days. This discovery not only meant that a bunch of squishy, happy puppies got to live, but also gave reason for rescue workers to continue to look for the 9 less squishy but equally happy humans that were rescued shortly after the litter was found.

In February, a village in India came together to knit gigantic sweaters for elephants in the surrounding countryside when a particularly cold weather system was passing through. Elephants, as we all know, are intelligent and emotional animals who deserve a nice sweater just as much (if not more) than any human out there.

The following month, a blind dog was miraculously found alive and well in the woods after having been lost there for a full week. It is common knowledge that blind dogs are some of the purest creatures in existence, so it’s no wonder the mountain lions in the area didn’t want to eat him. March was also the month when the world discovered the ‘granny school’ in Thane village in India, where elderly women who had been denied educations in their young lives were given the gift of education. It goes without saying that grannies with a passion for life are also pretty high up there on the list of pure creatures. Look at how much good stuff happened before our winter was even over! Let’s continue.

In April, university students finally got some good coverage when it was announced that George Mason University students had spent an entire year creating, fitting and refitting a prosthetic arm for a young girl in their community. The 10 year old now has a fully functional pink prosthetic arm that allows her to play the violin, among other fun 10-year-old things. And not that cute elderly people really needed redeeming, but April’s good news also gave us a 98-year-old man from Nebraska who, after losing his long-time wife, baked 144 handmade pies and sent them all over the country to funeral homes and community centers to some very thankful people.

In May, the threatened white rhino species gained two new members when new research was released that lead to the successful breeding of two female white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo. I don’t know much about white rhinoceroses, but am I ever glad that they won’t be going extinct this year.

Speaking of preserving wildlife, in June, another one of our wholesome elderlies, Russel Gremel, donated a whopping 2 million dollars to a wildlife sanctuary in hopes that “generations of young land stewards and bird enthusiasts” would utilize the space. OMW Russel!

We have now made it halfway through the year and I hope your faith in humanity and cuteness is starting to return. If not, here’s some more! In July, 80 random beach goers in Florida formed a human chain to rescue swimmers who had been pulled under by a strong current. This unorganized show of kindness was totally heart-warming and resulted in all 10 swimmers being safely returned to land.

In August, a doctor, who was at the time in labour herself, delivered another woman’s baby after hearing the patient in distress from down the hallway. Shortly after providing immediate care to that newborn, the doctor went on to have her own child just hours later. Women are awesome!!

In September, while we were all busy happily pretending that midterm season wasn’t upon us, an angel dog named Frida located and saved 12 people buried in rubble after a catastrophic earthquake in Mexico.  Another win for the animals! Humans also did some great stuff that month: a man in California found a camera at the beach and returned it to its rightful owners, a recently married couple who had lost the camera on the night of their wedding 2 months earlier- with all of their wedding photos on it! Many of the photos were recovered and the couple were extremely grateful to the man who decided not to be the wedding version of the Grinch.

In one of very few wins for policemen this year, October brought us a Wisconsin police officer who donated his kidney to a complete stranger. The young recipient now adorably calls Bittorf, the donor, his “best friend” and has stated that he will take “extra, extra good care of his new kidney”. Why are my eyes leaking?

And finally, this month’s good news. This month in Iowa, a couple adopted a 69 year old intellectually disabled man. Homer Williams had spent his whole life bouncing between different forms of temporary housing but had never truly found a home in his almost 70 years of life. Michelle and Alan Vry, his new legal caretakers, explained to the news outlet that they feel privileged and honoured to be able to take the man into their home and give him the life he has always deserved.

So yeah, a lot of bad things have happened this year: maybe you failed your first midterm, got broken up with or maybe you’ve just been feeling a little down with all of the crushing sadness that this year has brought. I’m not saying that we should ignore all of the tragedy and awful things that are happening around us, I’m just saying that everyone should make a point of not ignoring the good stuff that happens alongside all of that awful stuff. All I ask is that when you’re having a bad day, try to remember the puppies that were saved from an avalanche or think of elephants with giant sweaters on or Indian grannies learning how to spell or university students building prosthetics and that the sun will (probably) come up tomorrow. 2017 is not quite over yet, so here’s hoping that we can all pay a little more attention to the good stuff for the rest of this year and into the next one too. To keep updated on good news for the months and years to come, sign up for The Week’s free good news newsletter (http://theweek.com/goodnewsnewsletter).

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