Reasons to be Cheerful

David Byrne of Talking Heads and Elon Musk of Tesla are known to be “on the Spectrum” as they each have Asperger’s syndrome.

The dictionary definition of Asperger’s syndrome is one who has a developmental disability that is related to autism. Asperger’s people are characterized by higher than average intellectual ability coupled with impaired social skills and restrictions, repetitive patterns of interests and activities.

I have followed Byrne’s activities for many years because he was born the same year as I and attended college in Providence, Rhode Island at the same time I did too. His music and video performance in “Stop Making Sense” on Netflix (shot over three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre in 1983) is a celebration of his genius, and nobody can watch it without feeling good, happy and privileged. Stop Making Sense is considered by many critics to be one of the greatest concert films of all time. Rogers and Ebert say “the film’s peak moments come through Byrne’s simply physical presence. He jogs in place with his sidemen, he runs around the stage; he seems so happy to be alive and making music”.

One of his latest gambits is Arbutus Foundation a nonprofit that was created in 2018 and one of its initial projects is “a solutions journalism online magazine” (his words) entitled “Reasons to be Cheerful“. Arbutus is a meeting place for putting people together from various disciplines and perspectives so as to create new wonders. Just this week in The New York Times there was an article about his drawings which are meant to “connect” people with each other.

I found his compilation of reasons to be cheerful definitely reasons to be cheerful considering the bad news that’s all around us: the tens of thousands of people dying from Covid, the Republicans’ efforts to restrict voting rights and perpetuate The Big Lie, the imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, continued slaughter of innocent children at the hands of gun toting Americans, likely ban of abortions by the Supreme Court, to the continued climate emergency, etc. on and on it goes and where it stops, nobody knows).

So here is the good news to be shared by Reasons to be Cheerful:

  • To prevent the Sahara Desert from spreading southward, a 5,000 mile line of trees is being planted across the African continent.
  • A California law gives non-car commuters a cash payout that helped increase transit ridership by 50%.
  • The El Paso Community College (Texas) used its pandemic relief aid to forgive $3 million in student debt.
  • A solar-powered fridge that can last up to two weeks without electricity is being used to transport vaccines to over fifty countries.
  • The United States’ phasing out of HFCs in refrigerators could eliminate emissions equivalent to 4.7 billion metric tons of CO2 by 2050, about as much as a billion cars’ emissions in a year.
  • A stretch of beach worth $75 million and taken from Black people 97 years ago, is being return to the Black family descendants, in order to correct a historical incident of racial injustice.

And for good measure here is a podcast of some importance that counts as my good news of the day worth cheering about:

  • The Climate Minute podcast hosted by Ted McIntyre PhD (Massachusetts Climate Action Network) examines current news on global warming, climate change, renewable energy and the prospects for progress on international negotiations, carbon taxes and clean energy policy.

There’s all kinds of good things going on all across the country and the world if one is open to them. Looking for things to be grateful for and volunteering time with those unfortunate is another way to contribute to good news. There is progress being made and there are some reasons to be cheerful. Activism is alive in a number of causes and you too can be a part of it. Try it sometime and see if doing good yourself inspires you to do even greater things for others as well as one’s own self.

Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

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