Some things to make you feel happy about humanity
It's pretty easy to think about the negative aspects of mankind, but it's important to remember that there are examples every day of kindness, hope, and serendipity every day. Here are just a few examples (all of these are either incidents I know personally, or things I can verify with sources):
A man waiting for a train with his daughters sees a stranger having a seizure and falling onto the tracks. He jumps onto the tracks in the path of an oncoming train and covers the stranger's body with his own as the train passes overhead.
A village in the Netherlands unanimously decides that each of its 117 households will provide shelter to at least one Jew during the Holocaust, so no one person can betray the others.
One news anchor, tired of reporting on the recession and the failure of Wall Street, goes online and asks for people to send in stories of kindness and people helping others. He gets 25,000 responses in two days.
A quarter of a million men and women march in solidarity to Washington DC in the face of violence from their enemies and disapproval from their elders, to represent themselves and their rights.
After Hurricane Katrina, a big chain store tells its managers to open their doors and let people just come and take what they need, without regard to the cost.
A little boy tells me he wants to become a Big Brother when he grows up to help kids like his Big Brother helped him.
One teacher tells her students to write lists of good things about their classmates to help their self-esteem. At the funeral of one of her students 30 years later, the students she meets still have those lists.
A coach decides to let his autistic student manager put on a uniform and play for a few minutes at the end of a basketball game on Senior Night, in gratitude for the four years he has spent helping the team. He scores 20 points and is carried out of the gym by an ecstatic crowd. Now he helps raise money for autism research.
A woman is told that her as-yet-unborn daughter will grow up physically deformed, retarded, or both because of exposure to chemicals in the womb, and that the pregnancy will be difficult, dangerous, and possibly deadly for the mother. She chooses to have the child, who is now a beautiful girl studying at one of the top universities in America.
Through his clumsiness, a Scottish biochemist leaves a Petri dish open and discovers an antibiotic that saves millions of people from death and opens the door for dozens more to be discovered.
A marketing executive is sick of supporting ads and television glorifying gratuitous violence and nudity, and walks away from a $250,000/year job to start his own media company that reflects his own values.
After hours of drinking and dancing and more drinking, a girl tells a boy she will do anything with him. He tells her it wouldn't be right because she still has a boyfriend in Iraq, and takes her home to rest.
A breakfast restaurant serves two million free meals to customers one day.
A little baby is found lost along the side of the road by a group of chain-gang inmates. They watch over and play with the child for hours until its parents can be found.
A self-described "gang-banger" is forced to join the Marines to avoid going to prison. One drill instructor takes it upon himself to mentor the young man, whom everyone else has given up on. A year later, that young man is named Marine of the Year. Three years later, he is graduating from college, and starting his own record label company.
A family inundated with medical bills for their young children decides to sell "everything they own" on eBay. The top bidder promises them $20,000 for it, and tells them to take the money and keep their belongings.