The case for optimism

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The case for optimism

There is still a place for optimism in a world surrounded by dark thoughts and what some see as a bleak future.

There is still a place for optimism in a world surrounded by dark thoughts and what some see as a bleak future.

Rehme Leanza

There is still a place for optimism in a world surrounded by dark thoughts and what some see as a bleak future.

Rehme Leanza

Rehme Leanza

There is still a place for optimism in a world surrounded by dark thoughts and what some see as a bleak future.

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Being optimistic is hard. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is throwing us a bunch of obstacles and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. It seems like every turn we make, we run face-first into another challenge. And it seems as if everywhere, all the time, negativity and setbacks exist.

Which is why it is so important to take a deep breath and realize we’ve got a lot of good in this world. We’ve got a lot of people who are trying their very hardest to make things better. And you know what? Things are getting better.

On both a global scale and a local level there are people who have dedicated their lives to positively impacting the world. They are tackling issues from child mortality rates and ocean pollution to maintaining local parks and everyday kindness in restaurants. Here’s a list of reasons why I’m optimistic:

1. Child mortality rates are improving. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the death rate of children ages 5-14 has dropped by more than 50 percent since 1990. And the annual rate of reduction for global under-five mortality rate increased from 1.9 percent (during 1990 to 2000) to 4.0 percent (in 2000 to 2017). UNICEF’s hard work is paying off: more children are getting the opportunity to live a longer life.

2. Our oceans are being cleaned up. According to The Ocean Cleanup, over 5 trillion pieces of plastic litter the ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California, is 1.6 million km long. It is estimated to hold 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. Luckily, Boyan Slat and his project, The Ocean Cleanup, are on it. They came up with the System 001. Using System 001, they plan to clean up 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years.

3. In October 2018, over 250 organizations (responsible for 20 percent of the plastic packaging produced in the world) committed to an initiative called the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. Some of these organizations include Coca-Cola, Nestle, H&M and even the city of Austin. Through this initiative, they plan to eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging, innovate to ensure plastic can be easily reused or recycled and circulate plastic that has already been produced.

4. Tim Sweeney, Epic Games founder and Fortnite creator, is working hard to make sure that thousands of acres of land are preserved. Sweeney has purchased over 40,000 acres of land and donated $15 million in the name of wildlife conservation.

5. The U.S. Senate just passed the biggest public land package of the decade, according to the Washington Post. It’s a bipartisan bill that will protect over 1.3 million acres as wilderness, and withdraw more than 370,000 acres from mining. This land will be preserved for years to come so that the generations after us will be able to admire the beautiful nature that exists in the United States.

6. Of course, what the Senate and Sweeney have accomplished is amazing, but sometimes it seems like there’s nothing the rest of us can do. That’s not true. During the government shutdown, many parks struggled to maintain their trails. Luckily, people like Marc Newland and his 10-year-old daughter Erica Newland exist. They hiked trails in the Smoky Mountains with trash bags picking up garbage.

7. Candice Payne of Chicago decided to rent out 20 rooms for the homeless during the Polar Vortex. Payne says that when she woke up one morning and realized just how cold it was outside, she immediately called her employees and told them not to come in. She also started thinking of the citizens in her community who didn’t have a home to stay warm in; that’s when she decided to pay for 20 hotel rooms. Payne posted on social media, saying she would pay people to transport the homeless to the hotels. From there, the post went viral and Payne ended up being able to rent over 50 hotel rooms, thanks to generous donations.

Everyone should try to be more optimistic because it makes the world a better place.”

— Anna Gavin, ‘21

8. Kelly Stewart, a Taco Bell cashier, proves that kindness isn’t restricted to money. Stewart has received an outpouring of support for her small random acts of kindness. She writes kind, encouraging messages on the backs of customer receipts. Even if we can’t write nice messages on the backs of receipts, it’s easy to slip a kind note into someone’s locker, or encourage a friend with a smile and supportive quote.
I wish I could continue on in my list of reasons to be optimistic. Once you start looking for happy news it’s hard to stop, because there are so many stories out there! And if this isn’t enough, look around our school. We are surrounded by people bursting with optimism. Sometimes it doesn’t seem apparent, but just ask and you’ll find that most people have a reason to smile.

For me, being optimistic isn’t an option, it’s a must. We have to believe in the good in our world, in the good of our classmates, our teachers. If you don’t believe it’s there, read this article again. Read every story on the Good News Network and Positive.News, watch the Google Year in Search from 2016 or a video of a dad and his son dancing to Let It Go. Look up random acts of kindness videos and cry at the wonderfulness of other people. Join the Community Action Team or Boo Radley or Rotary Interact at WHHS. Ask every single person you know to give you one good reason they’re happy. And then share it with me. Leave notes in room 2306 or comment on our social media. Tell the world. Optimism is out there, go find it.

All views shared in the Opinions section of The Chatterbox belong to their respective authors, and may not represent the views of the publication as a whole.