The Israel-Gaza conflict. Ferguson, Mo. The Islamic State terror network. Ebola. Ukraine. Robin Williams. From the sad and often horrifying news in the headlines these days it’s easy to think the world is coming apart at its seams, that our moral compass is malfunctioning, or that human life itself has lost its value.
But there are still things that offer a glint of hope from the other side of the darkness:
Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year-old pitcher for Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons who hurled her way to a shutout—the first for a female player—in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. wound up on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Following a subsequent loss, Davis revealed a contented resilience that made for a refreshing perspective beyond her years. “We made it this far; there’s no reason to cry or anything,” she told her teammates, as recorded by a reporter from The New York Times. “I pitched two games; I pitched against two great teams; I did well. That was a great journey for us.”
An anecdote from the life of the brilliant Robin Williams shows, as many who knew him say, that he was as dedicated to helping others as he was to mastering his art. Top on his list were the homeless. Not only did he join Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal for Comic Relief, the fundraiser that brought in $50 million for people in need over its first 12 years, but he incorporated into his contracts a clause requiring that a certain number of individuals who lacked shelter be given jobs on location where he was working on a film or headlining at an event. His capacity for empathy may have had its roots in his stint as a street performer in the days before he landed his breakthrough role on “Mork and Mindy.” Later, in 1990, he testified before the Senate in support of the Homelessness Prevention and Community Revitalization Act.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, a teeth-chattering stunt has succeeded in bringing attention to the need for ALS research funding, a cause that has been historically overlooked and under-supported despite the cruelty with which the disease takes its victims. Individuals around the world are grinning and bearing it—major league athletes, recording artists, business executives, moms, pops and kids—and the ALS Association and its chapter affiliates have topped $100 million in little more than a month. So ask a friend to record you soaking yourself in icy water head first, challenge three others to do the same, and post the video to your social media page. Those who don’t abide by your challenge should prepare to make a donation to ALS research.
The human spirit is a mighty one indeed.