Three reasons for hope

Stay away from Twitter. Stop the Doom scrolling.

Yes, I know American democracy is under attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin is murmuring dark warnings about nuclear weapons in the face of Ukraine’s heroic and historic defiance. Dozens are dead and much of Florida was devastated by Hurricane Ian. And Kanye West did something so consistently awful in Paris that I was forced to google the non-musical thing Kanye West did in Paris.

These are dark times indeed. And the urge to just throw up your hands and declare yourself finished is overwhelming. I’ll be right with you

But before you scour Amazon for the best deal on yurts and start googling “how to become a digital nomad,” at least three things have happened lately that, if they don’t fully restore your faith in humanity, at least the flame are kept alive .

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Recently, a trio of researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their experiments in quantum information science Washington Postcould revolutionize data processing, cryptography and information transmission through a method called “quantum teleportation”.

The honors for John F. Clauser, 79, of Walnut Creek, California, Alain Aspect, 75, of Université Paris-Saclay and École in France, and Anton Zeilinger, 77, of the University of Vienna in Austria, came just a day later the Nobel Committee had recognized another extraordinary achievement.

Swedish scientist Svante Pääbo took home the Nobel Prize in Medicine for sequencing the Neanderthal genome, helping start a new field of studying ancient DNA, and as an added bonus, helping scientists track genetic differences in modern humans and theirs Role in diseases – including COVID-19, the New York Times reported.

And NASA successfully crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid, all in an attempt to prove whether it’s possible to protect our very fragile planet from interstellar threats.

Each of these achievements, taken individually, represents a massive advancement in human knowledge and scientific achievement.

Taken together, however, they’re not just a trifecta of gunworthy quirks, but also a welcome reminder of the liberating power of education in a year when too many parents were working overtime to get Toni Morrison’s (also a Nobel Prize-winning) books out of the Ripped their children’s school library.

It has been widely reported that the United States is in the midst of an historic teacher shortage, with educators fleeing the profession due to high demands and low pay, PTSD due to the pandemic, and culture wars running amok.

When we’re under pressure, each of us can point to a teacher who, at a pivotal moment, has made a crucial difference, whether by a kind word or extra help with a particularly challenging task. Other educators go even further and speak up for their students when there is no one else to speak for them. Tragically, some even gave their lives to protect our children.

It makes me inevitably wonder if we’re missing out on the next Svante Pääbo or John F. Clauser when a gifted educator decides to leave the classroom in favor of a job that not only pays a viable wage, but is also 100% free of school board meetings , which become political food fights.

If we are to solve all of these problems that are causing us our undoing in the first place, we must educate and educate (hopefully unencumbered by crippling college debt) a generation of young people who can. We must actually ground them (not conspiracy), wrap them in hope, and leave them welcoming unity, not endless division.

So please take a moment to celebrate and acknowledge the transformative work of not only Nobel Prize-winning scientists, but all those whose names we may never know who work every day to advance our knowledge and to save lives.

And there, in the stillness as you do this, I bet that any despair you feel will give way to hope, the spark that gives way to a flame and ignites the fire of knowledge that carries us all forward.

And then, if you must, go back to Doom scrolling.

John L. Micek, an award-winning political journalist, is Editor-in-Chief of The Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pa. Email him at jmic[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.