Juno Jupiter space probe

Je suis Juno

Today, while we were all busy arguing with each other about the latest political headlines or being collectively outraged over the latest viral scandal, a humble spacecraft quietly made history.

Almost five years after its launch in August 2011, the Juno probe just entered the orbit of our solar system’s biggest planet, Jupiter. To call Juno’s journey “epic” isn’t an overstatement. For the first two years, Juno followed a carefully planned path, perfectly timed to return to Earth in October 2013 and use our planet’s gravitational pull as a giant catapult to slingshot itself into deep space and toward its final destination.

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Smile. We’ll be fine.

Wasn’t 2014 just the best year ever?!

A lot of you may disagree, and you have every reason to do so. This year was full of objectively awful things: rise of ISIS, Ebola epidemic, Malaysian airplanes, events in Ukraine, Ferguson, Hong Kong, Israel, Sydney, Peshawar…just listing all the tragedies would take up an entire article.

With so many sad stories flooding the news, it’s easy to feel like the world is beginning to unravel, as if mankind’s violent tendencies are finally catching up with us. You’ll be forgiven for assuming the worst about humanity. Maybe we are inherently evil and cynical, ready to destroy everyone in our path if given the slightest chance?

Except we aren’t. Not even close.

How can I be so sure? Because you’re alive and reading this post. Because humanity is still here today. Because we live in the most peaceful period of human history, as unbelievable as that may sound. Because from every war and from all the unspeakable suffering we cause each other, we eventually extract lessons and find new ways to make the world at least a tiny bit better. It’s a painfully slow, almost invisible process, to be sure, but it’s gotten us this far. We inevitably gravitate towards being good and doing good.

That‘s our natural state. If it wasn’t, we’d be gone from this planet long ago. The first person to discover how to start a fire would have burned everyone to ashes. Humanity’s brief history would simply have been a massive, all-against-all orgy of senseless violence. We’d never have made it out of the Stone Age, because we’d have stoned each other to death instead of forming tribes and—later—functioning societies.

Do we live in the perfect world today? Hell no. Can we do better? Sure we can. And we do. Every single day, the vast majority of us will wake up and do something—however seemingly inconsequential—to improve the lives of people around us.

We can’t deny that immoral, reprehensible people exist. People who won’t hesitate to harm others to further their own agenda. Stories of wars, destruction, and violence abound. But these stories make headlines precisely because they’re exceptions—something we’re not used to experiencing in our everyday lives. We flock to these stories because they shock us, make us empathize with those in trouble, and remind us there’s still much to be done. In the process, we tend to skip right over the many overwhelmingly good news.

For every terrible crime and atrocity, there are countless tales of quiet heroes and everyday kindness. For every ignorant political statement about Ebola, there are hundreds of brave people risking their lives to help fight it. For every bigot who hates your religious choice due to the actions of a radical fanatic, there are thousands who will “ride with you.” For every act of police injustice, tens of thousands will rally against it. For every skeptic who reads this and tells me to take off my rose-colored glasses, there’ll be 10 others who are inspired to go hug a loved one or help a friend, all because of a few random words on the Internet written by some guy they’ve never met.

The good guys are the majority. Always. It’s who we are. Don’t doubt it for a second.

So when the next awful development invariably hits the news, remember to think about the myriad heartwarming stories you aren’t seeing.

Smile.

We’ll be fine.

No matter how crappy things may get in the short run, we’ll always be fine eventually.

Unless we all get crushed by a giant asteroid smashing into the Earth at 100.000 kilometers per second. But wow, what a badass way to go that would be, right?

Happy 2015, everyone!