Updated: May 31, 2022
If you are like me, you have been carrying a heavy psychological burden for quite some time. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m healthy, loved, and secure.
But that has not kept the anxiety wolves from scratching at my door. These days, it's hard for me to find solace in the simple fact that the sun came up again this morning or that hummingbirds have discovered my new bird feeder. Right now, I need to find some encouraging breakthroughs happening in this unstable, unpredictable world of ours. I know they are there, but it seems to take much more digging to find them these days. Here’s what has come to me so far.
We Fully Vaccinated Half of the Human Race in a Year
Covid is history’s largest vaccine campaign. According to the World Health Organization and as of this writing, 11.8 billion doses have been given, with 4.73 billion people fully vaccinated.
While it took 6 years to develop the polio vaccine it only took 10 months to develop the Covid vaccines. This was largely due to an unprecedented combination of political will and global collaboration - two things we seem to have in very short supply. Image what we could accomplish if we put that kind of energy behind other problems we face. The vaccine has made it possible to believe that we can.
Pope Francis appoints an outstanding U.S. bishop as Cardinal
The Vatican announced that San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, 68, has been appointed by Pope Francis to the College of Cardinals. Cardinal-designate McElroy will be installed by Pope Francis on August 27th at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
This photo was taken Christmas of 2016 when he spoke with migrants through the border wall. In 2019, Bishop McElroy told the National Catholic Reporter that he is in favor of ordaining women to the diaconate. In February 2021, Bishop McElroy was one of several U.S. Catholic bishops who signed a statement in opposition to “violence, bullying or harassment” directed at those who identify as LGBTQ+. In May 2021 he tackled the issue of denying the Eucharist. He wrote in America: [T]he proposal to exclude pro-choice Catholic political leaders from the Eucharist is the wrong step. It will bring tremendously destructive consequences—not because of what it says about abortion, but because of what it says about the Eucharist...The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. This must not happen.
Giant Pandas are no longer considered an Endangered Species
It's a good day to be a giant panda. The International Union for Conservation of Nature removed giant pandas from its list of endangered species in 2016 — a decision that Chinese officials challenged at the time.
Chinese conservation officials have now announced that they too no longer consider giant pandas an endangered species. There are now 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild, a number that officials credit to China’s devotion to maintaining nature reserves and other conservation initiatives in recent years. Even better news is that other species have also flourished as a result of maintaining these reserves: Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, and crested ibises have all seen a gradual increase in population numbers.
There is other good news out there: Cancer death rates are down 20% in the last two decades and steadily decreasing, Vista Equity Partners CEO Robert F. Smith paid off $34 million dollars of loan debt for 400 Morehouse College graduates, and from now on the U.S. women’s soccer team will receive pay equal to their male counterparts. There’s even a body or research that suggests that cheese is better for you than we had been led to believe.
The First Letter of Peter reminds us: always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope (1Pt. 3:15). In these tumultuous times, when many feel confused and uncertain as old norms are challenged and redefined at breakneck speed, it is easy to understand why hope’s symbol has traditionally been the anchor.
Hope secures us. Christian hope reminds us that, underneath it all, something deeper is holding us steady and is helping us navigate our lives. Hope breeds perseverance because it knows that every small act of fidelity has meaning within the eternal scheme of things. Hope reminds the soul of its value - that its private joys and heartaches are significant, and that there is more to all of this than meets the eye.