It’s Not All Bad News Part 2: Positive Stories from Foreign Destinations
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, it sometimes seems like global news outlets and social media just bring us endless doom and gloom. And we don’t want to shoot the messenger because we really do need to know what’s going on, even when it’s bad.
But here’s the thing: it’s not always bad. Positive news stories are out there; it’s just that good news doesn’t tend to clock up the clicks, you know? We have not, for example, heard this inspiring story in the news:
Todd Blenkinsop had a really excellent day today. He did not get shampoo in his eyes, he found matching socks almost immediately and he thinks he might really have connected with that girl on Tinder. He has high hopes for a first date as soon as social restrictions are lifted.
So this is reason number 5,394 that we love the internet: it actually contains quite a lot of good news, if you know where to look for it.
Brighten Your Day with Some Good Global News
Where, oh where, would we be without the internet? If not actually cowering under the bedclothes, weeping uncontrollably, we would probably be feeling even more stressed out and isolated, like we’re bit players in some apocalyptic film about the end of the world, only there aren’t any zombies to keep us company. We are alone, so very, very alone. Cue the Hitchcock music as you look in the mirror to see that you are making that Edvard Munch face (you know the one, even if you didn’t remember the artist’s name).
But wait! Here comes St Isidore, patron saint of the internet (we are not making this up), to the rescue! And here are some comforting bedtime stories of positive world news he has for us.
Positive News Stories from Around the World
So let’s start from the top. The mountain top. What’s up with mountains these days? Quite a lot, it would appear. The operative word being ‘appear’ because that’s what the Himalayan mountain tops have been doing lately.
For the first time in 30 years, these impressive snow-capped big boys are visible in Punjab, India. Due to widespread stay-at-home orders and thus a lot less traffic, air pollution and smog have lessened to such an extent that people up to 200 km away can enjoy this view from their windows – and you can too, from your (Microsoft) Windows.
Incidentally, India isn’t the only place currently experiencing vastly reduced air pollution – the phenomenon is happening all over the world.
Not to be outdone, the Matterhorn, superstar of the Alps, is also getting into the act. In the Swiss village of Zermatt, they’ve been projecting light images of different countries’ flags on the mountain since 24 March. The flying colours of the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, the US, Japan, Germany and India, to name a few, have appeared on the mountain “to give people a sign of hope and solidarity in these difficult times”. Thank you, Alp.
2. From Russia with love
James Bond would never believe it. The Russian government sent a cargo plane filled with medical supplies – face masks, hospital gowns, hospital equipment – to the US to help that country’s overwhelmed healthcare system cope with COVID-19. Cold War, Schmold War. All is forgiven.
3. Homeless shelters
You think you’ve got it bad, sheltering in place – at least you’ve got a place to, um, shelter in place in. In California they’ve re-purposed some 4,000 hotel rooms to supply emergency housing for the homeless. The state government is considering ways to continue the programme once the coronavirus crisis is over. (No need to be jealous: the UK is implementing similar plans.)
4. Free stuff just because
Little Free Libraries have been a thing for a while. There are some 90,000 of these teensy outdoor neighbourhood libraries operating in 91 countries. They’re individualised small enclosed places, some of which look like birdhouses for books. The idea is you come and take a book you want to read, leaving one you’re finished with for someone else. Well, just when you think this initiative couldn’t get any better, it does, because now some Little Free Libraries are adding to their wares, becoming Little Free Places You Can Get Some Loo Roll, Hand Sanitiser and Basic Food Items. How cool is that?
5. The bells are ringing
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, ravaged by fire last year, rang out the bells for five minutes in tribute to healthcare workers and to honour the resilience and courage of the French populace in general. Parisians cheered, and so do we.
6. Random acts of kindness
- A 101-year-old woman in Florida is sewing handmade virus masks and giving them away to whoever needs them.
- Hundreds of photographers across the US, keeping their distance, took pictures of sheltering-in-place families on their front porches or lawns in an initiative known as the Front Steps Project. All proceeds were donated to charity. (The project was recently voluntarily suspended to be on the safe side.)
- On Good Friday, the members of the choir of New York City’s St Sebastian Catholic Church – each properly socially distant in his or her own home – performed ‘Via Dolorosa’ for the virtual congregation (and anyone else who has an internet connection and likes a good church choir).
7. The things we do for love
- An elderly man in Ireland saw his newborn grandson for the first time – through the window of his son’s home.
- A New York City couple whose planned wedding was cancelled, courtesy of the coronavirus, tied the knot on the street (socially distant from everyone but each other), with their friend officiating from a fourth-floor window.
- A nurse in Phoenix, Arizona, on the front lines of the pandemic, voluntarily chose alternative living arrangements for the duration of the pandemic to avoid risking the health of his wife, their newborn son and his wife’s elderly parents.
8. Mind space
Transcending national boundaries are the realms within our heads, and there’s good news there too, according to anthropologist and cognitive scientist Samuel Veissière. Amidst the pain, he writes, we are given an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on what really matters to us, individually and as members of the human race. In better times, we rarely pause to consider the links that connect us rather than the divisions. “In remembering that our lives are intrinsically connected, and in taking note of the fragility of the world we took for granted, we are also reminded of how precious we are to one another”.
Find Your Inner Good News
Get prepared by checking out part 1 of our good news blog post. (Who does not love Italians singing from balconies?) Then, at the risk of getting heavy, we might take just a moment, like Mum always said we should, to count our blessings – our own safety, the lives of those who are dear to us.
Okay, time’s up – now let’s go back to the blessing given to us by St Isidore. He can hook you up with some amusing and useful stuff right now, as well as some dreams for the future (both essential for mental health) via our blog posts.