I don’t know about you, but I have been feeling down lately. I’m saddened by the dire political crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. I’ve also been feeling anxious and somewhat powerless about the many ongoing global crises we currently face, not to mention the deeper structural problems those crises have revealed.
The resurgence of Covid-19 and the rise of the delta variant has made me very anxious about the return to school and the health risks faced by the unvaccinated. I am alarmed and upset by the pernicious effects of misinformation around vaccination, especially in the United States. The inequitable distribution of vaccines globally only adds insult to injury. According to the latest modelling by Northeastern University, a more proportional distribution of vaccines among low- and high-income countries could prevent nearly twice as many deaths (Source: “Journal of Medical Virology,” 3 May 2021).
As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough, I also can’t stop worrying about the harmful effects of anthropogenic (or human-made) climate change. A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report went further than any previous IPCC publication in directly linking extreme weather events such as heatwaves and floods to anthropogenic climate change. The recent IPCC report also stresses that current international efforts fall far short of what is needed to address this looming crisis.
But despite feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and somewhat powerless in the face of these ongoing global crises, I also know it’s important to stay positive and look for solutions, even if they are just partial ones.
So what can we do? Some obvious things:
- Obey all mandates and help keep unvaccinated people safe, particularly children under 12.
- When possible, encourage others to get vaccinated — or at least ensure they have accurate information about the benefits and risks.
- Understand and act on information about what individuals can do to mitigate the effects of climate change
And, of course, where you can’t act directly, you can empower effective organizations to make impactful, research-based interventions. Donating one’s time and money is not only a positive social behavior. As Harvard Business School Professor Ashley Whillans discusses in her guest blog “Spending Money on Others and Personal Happiness,” giving makes people feel happier.
I would also add that, for my wife Diana and I at least, it helps restore our sense of agency in what often feels like an uncontrollable environment. This year, for instance, we donated more money than we had planned to Development Media International’s child survival project. DMI’s project seemed especially critical and impactful, and Diana and I felt good knowing that our donation would have a potentially life-saving impact on children under 5 years old.
DMI’s child survival project inspired Diana and myself to give more. And it’s only one of many cost-effective, high-impact interventions our recommended “Best Charities” make in their communities every day. I encourage you to research our Best Charities page and find an organization or project that speaks to you. Or donate to all of our best charities at once, or to The Life You Can Save itself.
At any rate, let’s all do our best to stay positive, help where we can, and feel a little more empowered to change things for the better.