I have an RSS feed set up on my laptop’s toolbar for the latest news headlines. Over 90% of those headlines are bad news.
Today there are more earthquakes in Japan; the Horror Mask killer is gaoled, a woman is killed in a train fire, an Egyptian blogger is gaoled by the military, 2 activists died in a Bahrain gaol.
Bad news rolls out at me as I scroll down the page. Sometimes there is so much bad news – I wonder where the human soul has gone. My friends tell me I am naïve, too trusting.
It’s true. I believe in good, in good people. That is why all the bad news shocks and dismays me. We are capable of better. We have so much potential. But only a few of us make the effort to be the best.
I am not talking about becoming a company director with a salary that reaches obscene levels with bonuses and the occasional trip in a Lear jet.
That is not being your best.
You’re at your best is when you do something for others. The people who make the effort for the collective soul of our planet and every day seek some way to heal that soul; they are the ones who are doing their best.
You occasionally hear about some of them. It is not often enough for me. Today, amongst all the bad news was such an item.
The name Raoul du Toit is unlikely to mean much to many people outside of Zimbabwe or the conservation industry. He is one among six who have won the Goldman Environmental Prize.
Raoul has fought for Rhino in Zimbabwe for decades. In 1990 he established the Lowveld Rhino Conservancy Trust.
Incredibly, even Robert Mugabe could not drive Raoul out. He is trying to get local communities involved to make rhino conservation once again a self-sustaining, lucrative business, like it was before 2000, and the land reform policies that would almost destroy Zimbabwe.
Raoul is one of six people recognised for putting others above themselves in the way they live their lives.
There is also Francisco Pineda. Francisco led a people’s movement that was responsible for halting the destruction of El Salvador’s water reserves through gold mining. This man has police protection 24 hours a day, and is threatened with assassination.
In Indonesia, Prig Arisandi also fought water pollution in his country. Because of Prig, a local movement grew and fought to do what they can to stop industrial pollution seeping into their river. A river that provides water to more than three million people.
In Germany, Ursula Sladeck is responsible for creating that country’s very first cooperative owned power company providing renewable energy.
Hilton Kelly works for poor communities in America who have been affected by the contamination that comes from petrochemical and hazardous waste services in Texas on the Gulf Coast.
In Russia it is Dmitry Lisitsyn doing his best to protect Sakhalin Island’s ecosystem against the threat of damage that will result from the development of a large scale petroleum project.
Six people who stand up. Not for money, not for fame. I mean how many people have ever heard of them. They stand up because they know it’s right, and they know someone has to be first or in our apathy no-one will.
Reading this good news, a calm settles in my bones. Because behind those six that we now know about, there are many, many more that we will never hear about who do exactly what these six do.
I am glad we recognise these people. Happy they will receive funds to help in their work. It makes me smile to read something that does not tear down the world we occupy, but makes the effort to build it up.
I wish there were more stories like that one to read daily, in place of the murder and violence everywhere. More stories to give me hope that there will still be a world for my grandchildren and great grandchildren to feel safe in, to want to fight for, to strive to be their best in.
Instead of a headline RSS feed maybe someone should set up a good news feed, that should we want, would allow us to filter out all the bad news, even if it is just for a little while.