If you are at all like me, you might find yourself fighting back feelings of despair when looking at the hard realities of human suffering around the world. Sometimes it all seems so desperate, so painful, so endless, and so hopeless. I am sometimes tempted to ignore (or deny) the sufferings, like the proverbial ostrich who sticks his head in the sand. Other times I try to convince myself that I can’t really do anything about it anyway, so why care? If you are like me, you may be tempted to believe that it is a contradiction to be both a realist and an optimist.
I find perspective and optimism when I look closely at the good things people are doing to help relieve suffering, fight injustice, make peace, and help the poor. I find courage in the stories of common people doing uncommon work. I am refreshed by the selflessness, courage, integrity, humility, sweat, and intelligent risk taking of those who live for others. These are the type of people I admire (and hope one day to be).