Many thanks for your patience during my extra-long holiday break. I hope you enjoyed your holidays, and wish you all the best in 2018.

It may seem that most news is bad news lately. But bad news gets more airtime than good news. I see many reasons for hope in the long run.

Yes, the environment is being harmed, species are threatened, and non-renewable energy sources are being used up. But various countries and organizations are taking countermeasures, and they’re working.

In one quick browse on The Good News Network e-zine, I came upon articles about: NASA seeing direct proof of ozone reduction; China banning sale of ivory; and tech billionaires Laura and Jack Dangermond donating $165 million to The Nature Conservancy to permanently protect 24,000 acres of pristine California coastline.

Yes, misogyny and sexual harassment—even assault—still exist. They are even directly or indirectly encouraged by “news” sources and the personal behavior of some political “ins.” But in what has been termed the “me too” movement, women are finally feeling safe enough to speak up about their experiences, and they’re being listened to. Iceland just made it illegal to pay women less than men for the same job.

Would you like to feel more hopeful about your personal or work life? Pick one practice from Bridges to Consensus or Love on the Rocks with a Twist, such as paraphrasing. Then, practice daily till it becomes second nature.

I remember how common bullying was when I was a kid. I can hardly bear to think about some of the things that went on. I attended a private girls’ academy. Bullying was especially bad in our sister school for boys. Handicapped boys picked on and teachers apparently doing nothing about it. I heard from a man who was about 13 years ahead of me in school that sometimes his phys. ed. teacher did the bullying, pitting one of the biggest brutes in the class against one of the puniest in a boxing match.

Even as a girl, I was horrified about that level of bullying. But I was never taught how harmful name-calling and the like can be. I’m ashamed that I sometimes called names.

Nowadays, school children are taught more enlightened attitudes. I often read that a child with Downs Syndrome or some other challenge is elected homecoming queen or king. Or a physically challenged boy is allowed to participate and score in one play of a football or basketball game. Even the opposing team collaborates in this. Just google “opposing team collaborates to let disabled boy score.” If you don’t see things that bring tears to your eyes, get your vital signs checked.

Schools even help kids who, while not necessarily bullied, may feel lonely and isolated. For example, some designate a particular bench where a kid can sit at recess or lunch if they would like some company. And other students really do go and sit there with the lonely schoolmate.

I know every generation puts its hope in the next. But I believe hope in our young people is justified by the things they’re already doing. I’ve read that today’s youth are likely to be the most law abiding and charitable.

And though humans might do some things worse than their forebears, on average, human kindness has increased over the centuries. For example, we no longer try people for crimes by tying them up and throwing them in a lake to see whether or not they float. Some states still have the death penalty, but it can no longer be applied to non-death crimes, such as theft. It can’t even be applied to any and all killings, only to murders exacerbated by particular circumstances, such as murdering an officer of the law while attempting to escape.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “…the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Happy and hopeful New Year, everyone!