From wildfires and horrific mass shootings to threats of nuclear war and community-flattening hurricanes, there is no denying that some pretty terrible things happened in 2017. But if you're about to go into 2018 thinking 'go riddance' to a truly horrible year, Bill Gates would like to have a word with you.
The Microsoft founder turned philanthropist took to his blog yesterday to highlight not the horrors of 2017, but the "hope and progress: new discoveries, unsung achievements, acts of courage, and kindness." And he used an unexpected means to do it.
Twitter is under fire for being a platform for bigotry and nastiness, but Gates points out that it was also the forum where people around the world shared amazing achievements and heart-melting acts of kindness. He selected seven tweets as examples of all the good we're in danger of forgetting amidst the darker news from the last twelve months.
1. This man became the first person in his family to go to college
"Congratulations Edwardo!" cheers Gates, who notes, "I hope in 2018 there will be even more of them because a college degree is a proven ticket to a life of higher income and better opportunity."
2. A rom-com about a toilet
Funny potentially, but how is this moving? Poor sanitation kills 1.7 people a year worldwide. A film starring Bollywood royalty did it's bit to change that horrifying statistic this year. "A new Indian government program is making huge progress improving sanitation with a goal of installing 75 million toilets throughout the country by 2019. This film tells the story of one of those toilets and the impact it had on one family," explains Gates.
3. A vaccination victory
This is "the kind of news that's huge, but often gets overlooked," claims Gates, who notes that efforts to eradicate measles have saved 20 million lives since 2000.
4. The World Food Prize winner gives away his prize
Today Dr. Akinwumi Adesina is the president of the African Development Bank but he started life as the son of a farm laborer, living in a hut without electricity of running water. He apparently hasn't forgotten his roots. When he won the $250,000 World Food Prize this year, he "set up a fund to provide grants to African youth involved in agriculture," reports Gates. Take that hunger and cynicism!
The World Food Prize gives me greater zeal to feed Africa and end hunger in our world. No resting until we succeed! pic.twitter.com/2b9spyYefz-- Akinwumi A. Adesina (@akin_adesina) October 21, 2017
5. Doing good is good for you, science confirms
"According to this New York Times story, the benefits of volunteering include lower blood pressure and decreased mortality rates," reports Gates.
6. Extreme reading
Book lover Gates is happy to note that "a new, time-saving sport... is catching on in schools" this year. "It's called 'extreme reading,'" and it "challenges students to read no matter where they are or what else they're doing: jumping on a trampoline, skydiving, playing soccer, riding a horse, sledding, or even swimming underwater."
"These tweets made me feel better about 2017 and more optimistic about the new year. I hope they make you feel more hopeful, too," Gates concludes, asking, "What tweets inspired you this year?"