We live in an age of terrible news. Tragedy, political turmoil, global upheaval, climate degradation. It's easy to be left in a state of despair every time you check your Twitter feed. Often, I have to pull myself out of the dark hole of horrific news that sucks us in like a sad leftover meal going down the drain. Not pleasant.
Here's something that might actually make you feel a little bit better: Did you know that crime rates in the United States have been on a steep decline since the early 90s? I had no idea until I started looking at the data.
What's interesting, is that public perception of crime in the US doesn't match these numbers at all. Most Americans believe that crime continues to rise when in reality, it has been decreasing for years.
We still face many severe issues in the US and globally, but maybe we're on a bit better of a path than we thought. What gives me even more hope than seeing these numbers, is when I come across humans who are doing incredible things to make a difference in the world.
Watching this year's CNN Heroes I was brought to tears at every story! I was actually binge watching inspiring TED Talks when I had the idea to create a video series about the wonderful things humans are doing for the world.
People are beautiful, and we need to remember that. It is in our biology to want to give and help one another: it's how we survived. For centuries, humans have relied on community for survival. We worked together to get here and we must work together now to pave the way for a brighter future.
This week's beautiful people:
1. Stuart Duncan
Better known online as "Autism Father," Stuart Duncan created a Minecraft community for children with autism. Stuart has autism himself and a son with autism. Other parents with autistic children kept asking Stuart if their children could play together because they were facing severe cyberbullying on normal Minecraft servers. So Stuart decided to make a Minecraft community to create a safe, welcoming environment for children with autism to all play and learn together.
The response was overwhelming. Within a few months, AutCraft had thousands of users and Stuart was getting great feedback from parents who were saying how much the game was helping their children. Some non-verbal children were even starting to speak and others started making friends at school for the first time.
AutCraft was so successful that researchers at UC Irvine even started studying it, and wrote this paper called, "Would You Be Mine: Appropriating Minecraft as an Assistive Technology for Youth with Autism." The researchers found that the guidelines for the community were helping to create a space for autistic children to learn and develop socially. AutCraft's foundation is built on the community coming together to help each other. Bullying, lying, stealing, and swearing are not tolerated in the game and good behavior is rewarded.
2. Mohamed Bzeek
Originally from Libya, Mohamed Bzeek is an LA resident who fosters terminally ill children. He began doing this with his wife Dawn 20 years ago. She has since passed away, but Mohamed continues to take in children and has fostered more than 40 children up until now.
The job is not a glamorous one. Many of these children have severe disabilities and Mohamed is responsible for bathing them, changing diapers, and handling all medication. According to this article in the LA Times, Mohamed is the only foster parent in the county known to take in terminally ill children, despite a dire need for more help.
Mohamed said he believes everyone deserves love, care, and a family, especially at the end of their life.
3. Aidan Thomas Anderson
I first came across Aidan Thomas Anderson in an article in Success Magazine. I was so impressed by all this kid was doing at such a young age. The now 17-year-old started his foundation Aidan Cares when he was just eight-years-old! Since then, he has worked with more than 500 charities and has even spoken alongside the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak.
"The need is so great for people to learn to give. We don't need to be a big deal, just a ripple." - Aidan Thomas Anderson
Even after reading this, you might still be thinking, "Can one person really make that much of a difference?"
Here's the truth: one person makes all the difference in the world. Everything we put out into the world matters. Every decision we make has an outcome and we have the power to decide what that outcome is. Are you contributing in a positive or negative way to the world? It's a simple question with a not-so-simple answer, but an important answer. We have the power to decide what that answer is and in our hearts, we always know.
Remember, YOU have the power to thrive. YOU have the power to live your best life ever.